Technical writing is one of the most important areas of writing. It comes from an expert point of view and ensures that the readers are familiar with the terms being discussed. Technical writing has evolved over the years to ensure that consumers are offered key information on products and/or services they’re enjoying. If you’ve ever read a product description, troubleshooting guide, or user manual, then you’re already familiar with technical writing products.
However, as a technical writer or as a curious reader, it is important to know the basic components of effective technical writing to understand whether you’re serving the audience or not. As described on the AEC Inc website, here are the important components of effective technical writing.
Clear and Concise Language
Technical writing or technically written documents aim to inform and guide the reader. This means that they should aim to be as clear as possible in the delivery of specific information. In addition to being clear, the language and mode of delivery should be concise.
As with any high-quality and concise document, technical writing should be fluff-free and avoid unnecessary words. Experts should also avoid using unnecessary technical jargon or overly complicated sentence structures that could confuse readers.
The acceptable rule of thumb is to create a document that can be easily understood by a layperson and in layperson terms. Doing this helps ensure the intended audience fully grasps and understands the information conveyed.
Accurate and Detailed
Accuracy and correctness are two important parts of any technical documentation. Technical writers or documents must aim to present detailed information in accurate forms and formats.
It is important to note that the accuracy of any technical document can have health or safety implications for the final user. This is why each documentation must aim to be detailed, simple, and follow a set string of technical procedures in a clear and understandable way.
As a means of quality checking, technical documentation should avoid redundant information.
Logical and Sequential
Another aspect of a technical document is logic. Each step or concept should be explained in a logical and relatable way for all levels of users. It is also important that the information shared should be organized and ordered in sequential form.
Technical writers can employ bullet points, ordered or unordered lists, as well as sections and subsections to make information clearer to their target audience. Making the information easy to follow can significantly improve the document’s effectiveness.
Visual aids are a great way to help the target audience or product user understand what is required of them and how best to follow the documentation guide. As a technical writer, it is important to implement visual aids where needed to improve user engagement.
In most cases where products do not readily require visual aids as guides, it is important to employ visual aids to draw attention to important sections on health and safety, hazards, and the common mistakes to avoid.
Technical documentations have been reported to have better success in preventing health and safety concerns when dangers or hazards are aided with visually stimulating images or icons.
It is also important to ensure that all visual aids are simple, well-designed, easy to read, and related to the section or information being delivered.
Technical documents are directed at helping the final consumer navigate the complexities of a product or service. This means that they are only effective when they are focused on the end user.
To enhance end-user focus, it is important to pay attention to the language, tone, and flow of the document. It is also important that the document approaches the audience from a helpful angle rather than a condescending one.
Writers should also aim to deliver clarity at each stage of the writing, ensuring that points are succinctly passed in as few words.
Consistent formatting has been found to improve engagement rates. A technical document must maintain a uniform formatting across the board. Writers and designers must ensure a consistent font, style, and layout throughout the document. Visual aids should also be designed with the same guideline in mind.
Revision and Editing
Technical documents are never perfect, especially on the first try. It is important that each technical documentation undergo rounds of reviews and editing by several new pairs of eyes to ensure clarity, uniformity, accuracy, and conciseness.
With rounds of editing, the chances of catching errors and improving the document quality increase.
In creating a technical document, writers must understand the power they wield, especially as they guide product users through an unknown path. It is important to ensure all the above elements and components are met to improve safety, adoption, and overall user satisfaction.