Five ideas to upgrade your technical writing skills
In 2020, improving technical writing skills is more crucial than ever as there are more and more complex technologies to write about and fewer and fewer people willing to devote much time to explore and understand complicated texts and manuals. Making your writing style easy to comprehend is the best thing you can do to upgrade your technical writing skills. Here are the first things you should do when working on your technical writing skills if you want to become one of the top writers in this niche.
What is technical writing?
Technical writing comes in all shapes and sizes. Same as with lifestyle writing, news writing, mathematics essay writing, and others, there are lots of ways one can describe this type of work. In short, technical writing is about writing technical documentation on machinery or software operation. Additionally, a technical writer might have to draft manuals or protocols on how to deal with certain situations like issues with human resources, the creation of technical reports and analyses, etc. Naturally, with such a narrow writing niche, it is crucial for the writer to be good not only at writing itself but also to have substantial knowledge of a certain industry like aeronautics, cybersecurity, bioengineering, and others.
Study your audience
Whatever type of writing you do, you always do it for someone to read. When you write technical pieces, your audience is very different than the one that prefers, say, science fiction. It is crucial to communicate all ideas and concepts in clear and concise language. You need to be aware of the needs, pains, and expectations of your target audience for your writing to resonate with their experience. For example, if you are an expert on space and rockets, your texts will be communicating specific facts to like-minded people, the people who share the same interests and knowledge as you. Feel free to use complex jargon and juggle advanced technical details because they will most likely be expecting that, rather than some basic rocket-related talks even a non-professional could understand. However, if you have an audience who needs to discover the topic on an elementary level, you need to take the opposite direction and explain the topic in simple terms.
Use simple language and clear structure
Being prosaic and eloquent can be needed in some cases, but with technical writing it is just unnecessary. There is no need to make allegories and allusions here. Everything has to be up to a point, literal and straightforward. Nobody reads technical texts for pleasure, so there is no need to sound entertaining. Instead, your writing needs to follow a rather formal tone. The more direct and clear you can be about the subject, the better. Never use complicated language and get to the point right away.
Technical writing does not only have to be simple in terms of its language but also its structure. Technical writing is mostly about facts and data, so try to develop a clear text structure with bullet points, smooth transitions, and proper explanations of each of the concepts you introduce into your pieces.
Do proper formatting
Formatting can be the decisive factor in how readable your technical text is. It is also one of the most important aspects of technical writing you need to take into account. Using clear headings, bullet lists, and even margins will make it much easier for your reader to skim through the text and to define the presented information as something comprehensive.
Before finishing your work, give it another look and see if there is some formatting you can do to make the text more pleasing to the eye and more understandable to someone who will see it for the first time. There are lots of small formatting details that can make your piece an easy read or quite the opposite, an accumulation of unclear data that has little to no relation to the subject. Technical writing topics are always very complex, and introducing proper formatting is one of the best ways to simplify it. You know how they always say: the person who truly understands the subject will always be able to explain it in simple language.
Use examples to support your theory
One of the best technical writing tips you can encounter is about using examples in your texts. Although the theory is of utter importance here, there is always a “too much” line. In order to avoid it, make sure to use examples that will help you describe your concepts in greater detail and clarify the presented information. It is good to present your topic in some realistic scenario for the reader to imagine how this or that thing works in practice. For instance, if you are writing a manual on the use of a commercial lawnmower, telling the reader what action can lead to what malfunction is not always enough. It is much better to give a detailed explanation of the way a properly tightened blade has to look like and what signs might imply that there is some malfunction in the machine.
Undoubtedly, it is quite difficult to use simple language when writing about something as complex as a spacecraft. However, there are lots of alternative ways for you to combine simplicity and complexity in one text. As an option, you can use infographics and images to visualize the things you present in your writing. That way, it will be much easier for your reader to understand the essence of your text and to follow it. Furthermore, it is usually much more interesting for people to explore visuals than bare text.
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