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5 tips to help become a better technical writer

Sromona Bhattacharyya
10th Nov 2016
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Many people have heard the term “technical writing” at some points in their lives but not a lot of them know what it means. Sometimes defined as simplifying the complex, technical writing is a type of writing where the author writes about a particular subject that requires explanation, simplification, and instruction. This style of writing has a purpose altogether different from any other styles of writing, be it creative, academic, business, or otherwise.

tips-for-technical-writing

The key to effective technical writing is straightforwardness and simplicity. It is an efficient and clear way of explaining to its readers how something works, and the likes of instruction manuals, reports of analysis, and user manuals can be considered to fall under the category of technical writing.

Here is a few points to help one become a better technical writer:

Use plain language

Always remember that as a technical writer, you are writing for a particular audience or the user of a product, and hence knowing your readers matter. The goal of technical writing is to get complex information to the readers using the simplest possible language, and if you fail to do that, the mark has already been missed. If the type of vocabulary or context used is not understood by people, then it loses its purpose. Make sure your writing is concise with simple use of vocabulary.

Be impersonal

As a good technical writer, one cannot afford to write in first person. Use an impersonal style of writing and from a third person perspective, much like how a teacher would talk to a student! Even if you feel like presenting your point of view, forget about it. Any sort of an opinion must be omitted.

Lower the usage of ambiguous terms

Terms like ‘a bit’, ‘a while’, ‘some’, ‘many’, are ambiguous terms and must be avoided at all cost. Terms like those can be detrimental as they tend to confuse the readers. Use specific and scientific terms instead. So, if one is writing an instruction manual on how to boil pasta, they should mention the specific quantities of the different ingredients that are required in the process, like 200 ml of water for 150 grams of pasta.

Substantiate with visuals

Sometimes even the simplest of the terms might get difficult to understand and hence, your write-up should have ample amount of visuals to help the readers comprehend and perform the complex task all by themselves. These visuals can be in the form of illustrations, diagrams, screenshots, and even flow charts! They are a great way to balance the text out and help connect you to the readers.

Use examples

Clarity and credibility are the two C’s that every technical writer must keep in mind. Nothing can help comprehend information better than a couple of examples. More examples often mean more clarity and in order to get a complicated matter across, use as many examples as you can.

Like in all cases, practice makes people perfect, and technical writing is no different. Technical writing is far from being easy, and if one is able to come close to mastering it, then they are really capable producing some great writing.

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