An Insider’s Guide to Technical Writing: A Review

A few weeks ago I read and reviewed (and did not particularly like) How to Get Started as a Technical Writer by James Gill. A reader suggested I check out The Insider’s Guide to Technical Writing by Krista Van Laan, so I’ve been working my way through it during down times in my first two weeks of training.

I love it!

The Insider’s Guide is a surprisingly comprehensive collection of answers to the questions I had about my new career field –

  • What am I going to be doing all day?
  • How do I best conduct an interview with a Subject Matter Expert?
  • What is the style of technical writing?
  • How does a TechComm department interact with the rest of the company?
  • What best practices and standards do I need to be aware of to avoid embarrassing myself or making more work for my boss?
  • What does the work flow of a documentation project look like?
  • Can I be successful working from home or consulting?

Of course almost all of this is variable depending on the individual department in which one works, and all of these are things one will learn sooner or later through experience, but sooner is always better when it comes to understanding the basics of one’s job, right?

Van Laan lists quite a few books, conferences, professional organizations, websites and other venues for continuing one’s education, and she also peppers in trivia, references to technical writing in popular culture, and evidence of the “lighter side” of tech writing – making it a quick and entertaining read that left me feeling inspired to get to work!

*Originally posted on*

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