Being a tech writer is not always easy, especially since technology wants to constantly change. This means that tech writers not only need to be extremely knowledgeable in their topics and area of expertise, but they also need to be able to become knowledgeable on new topics as well as update their style of writing to adapt to new changes.
Thankfully, there are a great deal of tips to help tech writers, and the following are some of the best.
Know your goal.
Before you start writing, it’s important that you know your end goal. Are you simply informing your audience about a new change to an old system or program, or are you writing instructions on how to get started with a new system or program? When you know what your goal is, you can better create the right type of content that is needed to reach this goal.
Know your audience.
It’s also very important that you know who your audience is before you start writing. Are you writing for people who already know how to use the technology, or are you writing for people who may have never used technology in their life? This can make a huge difference in how you write your content.
Tech writers have to understand that their audience may not be as knowledgeable on the subject as they are, which is why it’s extremely important to use examples as often as possible. Giving your audience examples will help them to more thoroughly understand exactly what you’re talking about without becoming more confused on the topic.
Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself.
If your audience is not an expert, it’s a good idea to possibly repeat certain items that are extremely important (or at least lead your audience back to a page where they can find more information). For example, if you’re discussing how to use a new technology and you briefly mention a topic that you already covered, it’s okay to re-convey that information or to place a page number down where they can access that information again in case they forgot (or overlooked it).
Whenever possible, add images or screenshots to your work to help your users better understand what it is you’re talking about. Sometimes this picture or image will help them locate the right location on the technology or simply give them a valuable visual that will better help them understand your copy. Always make sure that your screenshots or images are large enough for them to read or see without taking up too much space.
Proofread your work.
Like with any writing, proofreading your work is extremely important to ensure that your spelling and grammar are both correct. One minor error could end up causing major confusion among your readers. Aside from using a typical spell checker, you should also invest in a grammar checker.
Aside from allowing technology to proof your work, it’s also a good idea to have someone else proofread it. As a technical writer, you may want to consider having another technical writer as well as someone who doesn’t know the topic you’re writing about. This way, you can catch areas on both the technical and layman’s side of your writing.
Jessica Brown is a freelance writer and dedicated mother from Austin. She often uses the Grammarly grammar checker to proof her work before publishing.