Technical writing is an essential skill and highly valuable in any business. It requires understanding technical information and recording it in a document. It also involves taking high-level information and processing it into readable content for each specific audience.
Here are eight tips to improve your technical writing skills:
1. Knowledge is power.
Be familiar and well-versed in the particular field/ topic on which you write. You need in-depth knowledge to select crucial elements for your document. A broad understanding will ensure text is accurate and communicates necessary information efficiently.
2. Know your audience.
It is important to establish whether your audience has any expertise in the field: is the topic totally new to them, or do they have some understanding? Ask yourself – Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?
3. Work closely with the experts.
Engage your subject matter experts and maintain contact throughout, as they can add value at different stages.
4. Clear, direct and neutral style of writing.
Use active voice – it is easier to read and understand than passive voice. In active voice, the subject of the sentence is the doer of the action and takes responsibility.
5. Choose your words carefully.
Use the best word for the context. Include details that make the text understandable and precise. Avoid jargon and overuse of pronouns. When using unfamiliar or technical terms, define the term when you use it for the first time in the text. For abbreviations, write out the complete term, followed by the abbreviation in brackets, for its first use. Use the acronym for the next page and a half, then repeat the full term and the abbreviation. Continue in this manner for the rest of your document. A glossary of terms is always helpful to readers if you are going to have lots of acronyms.
6. Check spelling and grammar.
Ensure your document is free of spelling and grammatical errors. Spelling errors instantly kill credibility.
7. Images speak a thousand words.
A text-heavy document is laborious to read and the message may get lost. Careful formatting and images/ diagrams help your audience grasp your message clearly. Images should be relevant, and clearly referenced in both the text and an explanatory caption.
8. Review with a fresh pair of eyes.
To ensure your document is technically and grammatically correct, ask a colleague, supervisor or subject matter expert to review your document.