13 Tips For Technical Writers

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    I’ve come up with the following tips to follow when creating a document. You can think of it as a checklist. Hope you find it helpful.

    • Know your SME (Subject Matter Expert) – find them and collaborate; create relationships and work with them and inform them of why you’re there; use any opportunity to gather information. Help them help you-assist them by preparing questions and information that you already know and find out what is relevant. Ask what (is the product or its features, etc.), why (is it done this way, was it created, etc.), where (does this take place or belong, etc.), when (does or did this occur, etc.), how (is a process or procedure done, etc.) and who (is affected or is involved, etc.).
    • Know your target audience and their preferences – share and connect; find out what they want and need and in what format, be it video, print matter, charts, or training sessions. Show examples of previous documents to find out what they prefer.
    • Make sure your stakeholders are all in sync before any material is created; else you will be rewriting and rewriting.
    • Be concise and get to the point, make it simple – less verbiage, No more than 5 sentences per paragraph; use outlines, create quick reference guides and style guides for easy referral.
    • Use illustrations, tables, charts, graphics, print screens – let the image do the describing and make sure you note any exceptions to any process. Use icons, bullets, numbers and alphabetize – make it visually appealing and be organized and helpful by separating out data or material.
    • More white space – have plenty of white space- great for notes and readability.
    • Check your grammar and spelling – get the words right; correct and simple and know your terminology.
    • Know your timeline, workload, and prioritize – don’t be late; be organized and ready. Know your goals and schedule deliverables accordingly.
    • Get it verified and authorized – make it good to go.
    • Create your style guide and check list – list necessities or requirements, and maintain consistency and standardization.
    • Listen and learn, be open – be knowledgeable and collaborate.
    • Your words are your voice – be a trainer through written material. You are the editor, illustrator, and designer of your information. But most importantly, you translate information in a clear and easy to understand language to your target audience.
    • You are the knowledge manager – the gatekeeper; make sure you track and organize your documents.

    If you have other tips to share, please leave a comment.