Currently, each of us uses various technologies both in life and at work. Therefore, we can say with confidence that our life depends on technical content. In this regard, there is a need for a quality and skilled technical writer. We will talk about this in this article.
Technical copywriting: what is it?
The definition of a technical writer is an expert who engages in technical communication and transforms complex information into clear and concise documentation.
He creates the following types of technical content: user manuals, release notes, API documentation, reports, overviews, web pages, specifications, etc. This profession seems straightforward. There are many hidden gems in being a technical writer, and as far as being good, there are many more.
Effective technical writing: criteria and features
1) Writing skills
The main criterion for good software documentation is the clarity of the text. This can be achieved only by those who know how to write, to express the most complex thoughts in simple words. A good writer usually just knows these things, feels when to use this or that construct, what words work best, how to simplify complex topics, etc. It seems that a person has some kind of talent or not. But it comes down to hard work and practice.
2) Interest in science and technology
Of course, a technical writer must have special experience to be able to describe complex things. Much depends on the industry: mechanical engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, and many other industries have their standards and requirements.
The deeper a technical writer dives into an industry, the better they can explain complex things as they have a solid understanding of the general processes and concepts in that industry. Let’s say that a person who is not interested in programming and has no idea what it is is unlikely to be able to create software documentation. The same can be said about all other areas.
3) Ability to work with technical writing tools
Technology continues to move forward. Nowadays it’s all about efficiency, teamwork, and flexibility. Unsurprisingly, skilled technical writer are designed specifically for technical writing, offering task-specific functionality as well as just a handy text editor.
A good technical communicator must be aware of what is on the market. Ideally, they should try a couple of documentation tools to see how things work and find out what they like.
4) Research skills
This knowledge can apply to any technical writer, but it probably affects outsourcers the most. Writing software documentation in such circumstances is a difficult challenge and requires experience. Only after a few hours of careful research can you gather enough information in a given area to begin the writing process.
5) Proofreading skills
Proofreading is an essential skill for technical content. It is important to be able to view your texts and the content of your colleagues. Ideally, there should be an editor for proofreading technical documentation, but sometimes this is not the case.
6) Be systematic
The software documentation is the system. Some user guides can get so big, complex, and filled with help articles that it’s hard to believe it’s a system.
First of all, poorly structured documentation ruins the user experience because it doesn’t fulfill its primary function of providing people with easily accessible data.
Second, documentation writers also suffer. When there is no system, it is very difficult to maintain the user manual.
Thus, a good technical writer is one who always plans the structure of the documentation ahead of time and never creates a mess hoping to clean it up later.
The technical documentation group is part of a larger mechanism. They should be able to communicate well with other departments. Technology writers need to talk to each other, editors, designers, and developers. At first, technical writing seems like a job cut out for introverts, but that appearance is deceiving.
8) Knowledge of the basics of sociology
Technical documentation is created for users of a product or service. Each product or service has its primary user base and target audience. One of the tasks of any technical writer is to figure out who the end users are. Once this is done, the writing process can begin. The simplest technical writing sample is the difference between B2C and B2B user manuals.
In the first case, the explanations should be really simple and somewhat mundane. While in the second case, the content should be deeper, more complex, and more detailed. Sociology in terms of documentation development is knowing how readers think and figuring out the best way to deliver content to that particular section of society.
9) Critical thinking
In principle, it can be explained as the ability to make reasoned and clear judgments.
This concept includes the collection of information, its analysis, and systematization. Just being systematic is only a small part of the whole history of critical thinking.
What makes a good critical thinker? Well, most theories on the subject say that the answer is a personal experience. And it makes sense. The more conscious the whole process of receiving and processing information is, the clearer the result will be.
The list of skills that can be useful for any technical writer is now complete. This of course doesn’t mean that a technical writer has to be all of those things, no. But in technical writing, as in any other professional field, there is always an opportunity to grow as a specialist.
You can also try different spellings, technical writing samples, and experiments. We hope that this information together will show you the direction to improvement and success.