Technical Writing: Getting Started

Technical Writing: Getting Started

Typical Characteristics

  1. Solve a problem
  1. Address a specific Audience
  1. Layout and structure are used to increase readability.

How does it help

  • It helps making well-informed decisions.
  • It reduced risks and prevents accidents.
  • It saves money by reducing support request.
  • It helps users use and recommend a product.
  • It enhances product quality.
  • It pushes scientific progress by helping us comprehend technical processes.

Common Misconceptions

  • Any Engineer can do it
    • The person need to have 360 degree knowledge of the topic
  • Any Writer can do it
    • There is a certain way to write Technical writings.
  • Technical writing is writing
    • No, research, communication are required.
  • People want to read writing
    • Do not use GIFs or Emojis

What’s good technical writing

  1. Correctness
    1. Correct, Honest, Tone, Proof read
  1. Complete
    1. Include necessary info
    2. Level details
  1. Usable
    1. Readability and scan-ability
    2. Logical chunks organisation
    3. Clear structure/layout
    4. Give tags, links, references
  1. Clear
    1. Clarity
    2. Simple language
    3. Use graph, image, map
  1. Concise
    1. Active voice
    2. Short simple terms
    3. Remove unnecessary info
    4. Do not repeat texts
  1. Consistent
    1. Consistent naming system
    2. Headings
    3. Follow an SOP
    4. Do not mix active, passive while addressing audience
    5. Do not vary tones


  1. Planning
  1. Information collecting and drafting
  1. Revising and Editing
  1. Proofreading and Testing


  1. Research skills
    1. Interview SMEs
    2. Run surveys
    3. User tests
    4. How to interview Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
    5. How to interview different user groups
    6. How to design and conduct user tests
    7. How to design and run surveys
    8. How to analyze primary data
    9. How to analyze secondary data
  1. Writing skills
    1. How to write correctly
    2. How to write clearly
    3. How to write efficiently
    4. How to write user-centered
  1. Inter-personal skills
    1. How to ask experts and users for certain information
    2. How to ask stakeholders for their expectations
    3. How to translate user needs, experience and knowledge into writing
  1. Learning skills
    1. How to fully understand products and processes
    2. How to analyze, structure, and make sense of data
    3. How to learn and apply new terminology
    4. How to improve your various (writing, research, technical) skills continuously
    5. How to be open for criticism


  • Your purpose is poorly defined.
  • Your audience is poorly defined.
  • You write for yourself, not your audience.
  • You use lengthy sentences.
  • You use complicated words.
  • Your page layout lacks structure.
  • You use inconsistent naming.
  • Your document contains useless information.
  • There are too many authors working on your text.
  • You use the wrong writing tool.
  • You don't research.
  • Your don't test.

Bonus tips to make life easier

  • Show authentic interest in your audience.
  • No writing without research.
  • Collaborate wisely!
  • Invest time (and money) in the right tool.
  • Work on improving your skills.
  • Treat the writing of your doc like a project.
  • Treat your document like a product.
  • dTest and improve continuously.

Additional Resources

Gales, C. et al (2020): The Product is Docs.G.J. Alred, C.T. Brusaw, W.E. Oliu (2011): Handbook of Technical Writing, 10th Edition. P. V. Anderson (2017): Technical Communication, 9th Edition. Van Laan, K., Hackos, J.T. (2012): The Insider’s Guide to Technical Writing.
Articles & Blog Posts What is Technical Writing? Instructional Solutions: What is Technical Writing?
FFeathers, Blog: https://ffeathers.wordpress.comI’d rather be writing, Blog: https://idratherbewriting.comOnline Technical Writing:
Technical Communication Quarterly:
Journal of Technical Writing and Communication:
YouTube Channels
Amruta Ranade, Youtube Channel:
Associations & Forums
Society for Technical Communication: Technical Communication Library:
Documentation & Technical Writing LinkedIn Forum:

Further reading

Technical Writing by Google

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