Technical Writing and Documentation
Firstly, we will explain the underlying working of technical writing. It is a form of communication. Communication refers to the exchange of information, ideas and thoughts between two or multiple parties via professional documentation. Hence, technical documentation or communication involves the transmission of technical knowledge about a new technology or product to the non technical users.
Before we go into the purpose and details of technical writing, have a look at the following definitions:
“Technical writing refers to straightforward explanations and/or instructions dealing with a particular technical subject. The subject being written about may be abstract or tangible.”
“Technical writing, a form of technical communication, is a style of writing used in fields as diverse as computer hardware and software, engineering, chemistry, the aerospace industry, robotics, finance, consumer electronics, and biotechnology. Technical writers explain technology and related ideas to technical and nontechnical audiences. This could mean, for example, telling a programmer how to use a software library or telling a consumer how to operate a television remote control.”
“Technical Writing is a term that represents an increasingly broad set of activities that are designed to communicate understandable information that can help people be productive.”
Gerald J. Alred, being a technical writer, wrote a book named Handbook of Technical Writing where he discussed in detail that technical writing is all about enabling the readers to understand a new technological theory, concept or a process.
Transforming Technical Information into Words
It is the job of a technical writer to translate the hardcore technical information into words which are easy to grasp and follow.
Elements of Consideration
Technical writing includes process flows, user journey and story boards, SDLC documents, FAQs and product walk-throughs. It demands an effective and easy-to-understand presentation and explanation of complicated workings.
Formats of Technical Documentation
Commonly, technical documentation is produced in the following formats:
Manuals (Product or user): Mostly they are produced in hard copy
PDF Format: PDF files can be distributed int eh form of e-books or soft form handi-material.
Online Wikis: Organizations mostly use restricted wikis for product information for internal communication.
Infographics: These give a pictorial understanding of a concept or workflow.
Presentations: Powepoint, Prezi or Keynote are used to present concepts and finer details.
Nature of Technical Writing
The requirement of technical writing is that the information presented must be precise and to the point therefore, technical writers make use of objective tone rather than subjective. The technical writing style is strictly utilitarian and emphasizes on clarity, accuracy and corrective-ness, not on elegance and allusiveness like creative or essay writing.
Importance of Technical Writing
Everyday we hear about new inventions in technology; we all need to upgrade our tech knowledge in order to survive in this global world. Thanks to technical writers who create for us the how-to guides, manuals, textbooks, instructional material and explain to us in simple and meaningful words about the technological inventions, their purpose and usage.
What Does Technical Writing Include?
Styles and Methods
Technical writing covers a broad range of areas and includes various types of technical writing areas. However, typically it includes the following deliverables:
Single Source authoring also infamously used for single sourcing is an efficient content management technique which accommodates a single source of content to be used across multiple forums of media numerous times. It requires a bigger pool of resource and time allocation for the editing of the draft, but it’s a one-time effort. Needless to say, you are going to use that document again and again which saves time in future and shrinks room for correction and errors.
Foremost the beneficiary of single sourcing is the editor itself rather than the user. For the user its easy to understand the technical terminologies and brings an overall consistency in the content.
We will walk you through some great insights and benefits for using single source authoring.
It Brings Consistency to the Content
For newbies in this domain, it is a nightmare to get acquainted to the technical terminologies. Well, single source authoring makes this a ‘walk in the park’ and brings overall consistencies in the content and conceptualization.
Adaptable Publishing Outputs
The single source authoring comes handy when publishing to numerous forums like HTML, Eclipse, PDF, XPS, MS Word, WebHelp etc.
Central Control of Information
Due to centralization of a single source scenario, you can always make sure that you are meeting global standards.
Single Source Technical Writing
Single Sourcing in Technical Writing has opened efficient and capable ways of understanding the technicalities and provides a greater insight at less effort for the end-customer. Nevertheless, the work put into single sourcing a technical writing if often harder than it looks for the editor, and mastering this art requires great deal of effort.
Advantages of Single Sourcing in Technical Writing
Single Source Authoring is a Cross-cutting Solution
The way this heading feels so intimidated is the fact that single sourcing has provided a bridge between the programmers (who have trouble putting their thoughts to writing actions) and technical writer (who often knows little about programming).
You would not believe how much time you would save if you formulate an online and printed version of the user manual. Suppose if your manual contains a video tutorial and written content, try making the video content available online and written content printer friendly.
Room for Optional Styles and Scripts
You are at your liberty to play with the styles and scripts, and make your versions differ from each other using different scripting and styles. Each .css and .js file can be optimized for different output settings. You can assign different output tags.
Writing Technical Documentation for Software
Software Engineering and Development is a vast domain with the most important aspect – technical documentation. All software whether manufactured by small or big companies require great deal of technical documentation. Different sorts of technical documentation is required during the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). These technical documents aim to clarify the functionality of product, depict information relevant to project, and unify the discussion between the software developers and stake holders.
Online Technical Writing Courses
We have catered a few online writing courses to help you get along.
Udemy is probably one of the best outgrowing forums to learn technical writing due to its versatility and innovative learning modules. This forum has a virtual course for almost every discipline.
Coursera is a popular online learning platform with more than 33 million registered users and more than 2400 certified courses.
A popular choice among people to learn languages and soft skills. The intensive learning courses on technical writing are state of the art.
Not only does this site provides you with high quality learning but a great chance to network with industry professionals.
OST established (1868) is an international public research university and online accredited institute with a prodigious reputation. Its eCampus is top ranked in the nation with over 70+ degree programs.
Therefore, from the above definitions and explanation of technical writing and documentation we can conclude that it is basically a non fiction form of content creation that relies on information delivery in the most digestible manner. The content and format may vary but the intent is to transform knowledge. Other forms of writing, closely related with technical writing are expository writing, business writing and academic writing.