When you think about it, technical writing seems mundane, old school, and complicated.
But technical writing can be fun in its own way.
Even if the topic is complicated, your writing shouldn’t be and that’s what technical writing is about.
Technical writing can be a bit tricky to master because writing is subjective, it can be hard to quantify if you’re doing things right. That’s why we’ve got some actionable tips for you. Let’s dive in.
What is technical writing?
Technical writing is a way of explaining technical information by breaking down the concept to make it easy for readers. Technical writing isn’t about how much the ‘writer’ knows about a topic but how ‘attention-grabbing’ they can make it for their reader. It is an art to provide clear and concise information to the reader.
Now that you know what technical writing is, let’s understand what you can do to master the art.
7 tips for better technical writing
Technical writing is a skill badge that every content writer must add to their cap. Here’s how you can do that:
1. Know your audience: It holds true for all forms of writing, know your audience well. For instance, if you’re writing for executives who are generally decision-makers with basic knowledge, you can put emphasis on the unique capabilities of your product/solution that solves certain complex challenges. Yet, if it’s an instruction manual, for the end-user of the product, you need to list out instruction steps and basic terminology. To understand your reader, you can create a persona to guide you with the basics.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- who are your readers?
- what do they need?
- where will they be reading your content?
- why should they be reading your content?
Once you’ve answered these questions, only then can you pen down the technical information in an easily digestible manner.
2. Simplify your language: As Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplification is the ultimate sophistication”. That’s true when it comes to writing. If your audience is unlikely to understand an industry jargon, best to avoid it. If it is necessary to include a technical term, define it in a simple way. Some technical terms or abbreviations like RPA (Robotic Process Automation) and NLU (Natural Language Understanding) often can’t be interpreted from context, be sure to explain them in advance so that your readers don’t feel lost.
3. Don’t stop learning: Michelangelo said, “Ancora imparo”, which means “I’m still learning”. Writers should have the same motto and should focus on solidifying their foundation. Improve your domain-specific knowledge, do in-depth research, consult subject matter experts, or the back-end teams to grasp more into the ‘what, why, and how’ of the subject. Every content piece you write, i.e, how-to videos, product release documents, knowledge base articles, or training guides, you will need different technical insights from other team members like solutions architects or technicians. So, don’t refrain from reaching out to the tech wizards.
4. Prepare your game plan: Every game requires a plan. Similarly, in technical writing, you need to create an outline before you plunge into the writing. Readers should be able to navigate your copy, it should flow logically, and must be straightforward. An outline helps you do that and set a direction for your writing.
5. Establish a structure: A technical copy has a lot of technical information which may hinder its readability. To deliver information efficiently, structure your copy in a way that is easily scannable for people who choose to skim by adding tables or charts. Maintain consistency, break your text into headers, sub-headers, and keep enough white space for readers to not feel bombarded with information. Maintain consistency in terms of format, font, and spaces throughout your copy.
6. Use examples: In technical writing, you’ll often be covering complex topics. So, it’s even important to use an example or two to make it clear how it relates to the real world. Maybe introduce a couple of hypothetical scenarios or try using a metaphor or a story to make your points more relatable.
7. Ask for and embrace feedback: It’s crucial to identify areas of improvement, ask for feedback from your co-workers or clients by asking them these questions:
- did they find your writing helpful?
- did they understand the concept that you were trying to convey?
- was your content clear and crisp?
- did your content help answer their questions?
- was there anything that they found missing in your writing?
With insights into this, you can figure out what does not add value to your copy or if there is a recurring pattern that you generally tend to overlook. Feedback is an opportunity to work on and improve your skills, embracing it will only do you good.
Writing is an iterative process but the key is to have fun in what you write. Through good planning and practice, you will grow and improve your technical writing skills. It’s not a one day match but a long haul game. It could be a hard game to play but as in life and in business, the best thing is to work towards stepping up your game.
Wish to be a technical writing ninja? Let’s talk.
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