Technical writing

Technical Writing Skills and Examples

Technical writing is a discipline in writing that serves to provide clarity in discussing complex concepts. This does not mean that your article or essay will only be littered with jargon, meant only to be read by subject matter experts alone. Technical writing is about your ability to write about complex ideas and concepts, tailoring your wording towards the skills and experience of the audience for which you are writing.

 

Many industries may require technical writing skills since technical writing is not limited to how-to manuals for understanding any given type of machinery. Technical writing can be used in law, medicine, or even the arts. Most forms of technical writing are not created for public consumption and can fall into multiple categories. Technical writing can come in the form of instructions, project planning documents such as flowcharts or a work breakdown structure, or even a policy brief.

 

How To Do Technical Writing Well

 

Know your audience

Recognize that explaining rocket science to an avionics engineer will look very different to explaining it to a corporate venture capitalist. Vice versa, you would explain how to complete complex financial calculations in Excel software the same way to an engineer the same way you would to an MBA graduate. If you don’t know and understand your audience, it will be difficult to keep your readers interested.

 

Structure Intentionally

Providing a structure to your writing makes it easier to follow. Your words should flow, and ideas should build on each other. Not all readers will read through the entire document as some will seek only the information interesting or useful to them. Ways to structure your piece include adding bulleted lists, page breaks, and headers with different font sizes. These elements facilitate improved comprehension of the material and make it easy to follow the material.

 

Don’t Forget the Pictures

Visuals are great for assisting the reader in connecting the flow of ideas to each other. These visuals can include comprehensive tables, graphs, or diagrams to help the reader follow along with the material. For instance, in an instruction manual for assembling a device, labeling the images of parts needed can help your audience assemble the device correctly. Like with the text, the visual must correspond with the audience’s level of understanding of the topic at hand or be reflective of their present knowledge base.

 

Follow the 3 S’s (Short, Specific, and Simple)

The fastest way to frustrate a reader is by providing too much information and not enough tools to understand it all. You have to be clear about what you want to explain to them, spell out the steps, and help them understand in their own language. Keep track of how long your sentences are, how many you have, and how they are spaced together throughout the document. Be mindful of the words you use as well, because one word may have a different meaning depending on which industry your audience is part of. It would be best to also be specific in your instructions so that the reader does not need to do their own research just to figure out what you wrote. Furthermore, avoid using idioms or what would be considered conventional expressions in this type of writing, since it is not fair to assume everyone will know what the expression means.

 

Overall, technical writing is a valuable skill since people will always seek ways to understand what they do not, especially regarding technology. The most important thing to consider when doing technical writing is to recognize your audience and build everything in your technical writing around their needs. This means organizing with intention, using specific and straightforward language, and adding relevant visuals, so that your words are easier to follow.

 

 

Author: Maaida Kirmani

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