I’ve been a writer for years, but I’m always looking for ways to improve my craft. If you’re like me, you probably feel the same way. But when it comes to technical writing, especially in the IT industry, some conventions can make it hard to write with your voice.
After all, IT documentation is often written by people who aren’t professional writers; instead, they’re engineers and technicians who have mastered their craft but aren’t necessarily versed in how words work together on a page or screen. This can lead to some unfortunate outcomes:
|1. Embrace creativity to make technical writing enjoyable.
|2. Explore ways to inject fun and excitement into your content.
|3. Don’t shy away from using engaging examples and anecdotes.
|4. Prioritize clear communication while maintaining enthusiasm.
|5. Remember that enjoyable technical writing can be impactful.
Welcome Your Audience
Welcome your audience, briefly but warmly. Get to the point: that you’re here to help them make the most of their time and money.
This is a great place for an infographic or any other kind of quick visual aid (such as a table, chart, or graph) to support what you’re saying.
Explain why they should care about this article; why it matters; why they should trust you—and most importantly how this piece will help them grow their business/understanding/skillset. In other words:
Why are you writing this? What problem does it solve?
Why should I read it? What value will I gain from doing so?
How can I trust that what you say is true?
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Use A Conversational Tone
As a technical writer, you are writing for the reader. The goal of your writing is to communicate ideas in an easy-to-understand manner. You want your readers to be able to digest and understand the information with minimal effort.
While many people believe that technical writing should be dry and boring, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Technical writers don’t have to write in a dry tone or boring style—they can use this opportunity as an opportunity to connect with their audiences!
You must keep things conversational when writing technical documents so that they’re easy on the eyes (and brain). When it comes down to it, if someone has trouble reading something, chances are they won’t bother reading it at all so make sure everything you write is clear and concise!
Write Without Jargon Whenever Possible
What’s jargon? It’s a word or phrase that is used in a particular context and means something different from its literal meaning. That sounds confusing, but it isn’t jargon that can be simple or complex. If you want to use jargon, make sure you explain it in plain language so your reader understands what you are trying to say.
Also, remember that technical writing should be clear and concise. Using jargon may confuse your audience because they might not understand what you’re saying.
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When You Must Use Jargon, Explain It In Plain Language
One thing to remember is that you’re writing for a human audience. Your readers may not be experienced in the topic you’re writing about, so they won’t know what terms like “user experience” mean if you don’t explain them.
They also won’t know what specific aspects of your subject matter are most important or relevant to their needs, so it’s up to you to figure that out and make sure only those things get included in your text.
When using jargon, explain it in plain language (for example: “User experience design is an approach that considers how users interact with products and services.”) Don’t assume readers know a subject without explaining it first!
The last thing anybody wants is for something else she knows nothing about to become lost in translation between her brain and yours because we didn’t communicate well enough beforehand – especially when we could’ve been having fun instead!
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Don’t assume everyone knows what an acronym is.
I’ve seen this happen a lot: if you’re writing something and want to refer to something that’s been done before, don’t use the full name of the thing in your document. Use an acronym instead. You might think it saves space on the page or in your email, but it does more damage than good.
The first time I read about this someone was using an acronym for “the old system” when he meant “the previous version of our software.”
At first, I thought maybe he just didn’t know what he was talking about (which happens), but then eventually realized that he meant “the current version” instead of just saying so. This kind of thing makes it seem like you’re hiding something from people who are reading your work and they’ll be unhappy when they find out what it stands for!
Don’t Assume Readers Are Familiar With The Topic You’re Writing About
When you’re writing technical documentation, you have to assume that readers aren’t familiar with the topic. You need to explain what it is, why it’s important and relevant to them, and why they should care about it.
It’s like when we were kids and our parents told us there were toys in their closet. We didn’t believe them because we didn’t see any toys in there! And then when we finally opened up the closet door, there were all these amazing things Tickle Me Elmo dolls, Pokémon cards my imagination was running wild!
Your audience probably feels like they’re opening up your closet door for the first time too. So don’t be afraid of over-explaining things; just keep them entertained while they figure out how to use your product or service effectively by providing clear explanations at every step along the way.
Refer to other pieces of documentation and explain why they’re relevant early in the piece of documentation you’re writing.
The first thing you should do is explain why the reader should read your article. Explain how it relates to other documentation, or how it differs from existing documentation. If there’s a problem with any of the existing content, address that in your initial thesis statement.
Make sure your audience knows why they’re reading this article, and don’t be shy about referencing other pieces of documentation that are relevant to what you’re writing about.
Provide as much context as possible for your readership before diving into the details of your topic, so they can get started understanding what they will be reading without being confused or overwhelmed by unfamiliar terminology or concepts that may not make sense at first glance.
Explain how readers should benefit from reading the documentation you’re writing and mention any relevant certifications or credentials that qualify you to write about this topic.
Write to the reader. Give readers a reason to think that their time will be well spent after they finish reading your article by framing the information as a practical tool. Provide an example or ask a question that shows how it’s useful in their real life.
For example, if you’re writing about how to change the oil on your car, including a list of tools needed, but also mention how much money you can save by doing this yourself instead of taking it into the shop for service (and then let them know that if they want additional tips on DIY maintenance, there are plenty more articles available).
Give readers a reason to continue reading before launching into your main point. You can use an intriguing question, a statistic, an interesting quotation, or a case study to grab readers’ attention.
As a writer, you know that your job is to grab your readers’ attention and hold it. You also know that every word counts when you’re trying to push an idea through to a reader’s brain.
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So, How Do You Accomplish These Things?
One way is by using an intriguing question or statistic at the beginning of your piece. This can be anything from: “Why aren’t we outsourcing our housework?” Or: “What would happen if we all learned how to do our laundry?”
To: “How long does it take for the average person’s clothes dryer repair bill to come in the mail after their washing machine breaks down?” Whatever it may be, this opening statement will pique people’s interest in what else is going on in this article.
You could also open with a quotation from someone who knows something about whatever topic it is that interests them most or has experience with something related – like Mark Twain talking about his many travels abroad in Europe during his lifetime (he lived until 1910).
Or maybe even an excerpt from one of his writings containing some wisdom helpful toward understanding life better today.”
Give readers a reason to think that their time will be well spent after they finish reading your article by framing the information as a practical tool.
You can give readers a reason to think that their time will be well spent after they finish reading your article by framing the information as a practical tool. You can use an intriguing question, a statistic, an interesting quotation, or a case study to capture your reader’s attention and give them something tangible to do with the information you’ve provided.
If you’re writing about how to use Excel spreadsheets, for example, you might start with a statement like: “Have you ever wondered how much time it would take someone else to perform all of those calculations manually?”
The reader knows where this sentence is going they’ll likely agree that yes, they have indeed wondered this but by using words like “wondered” instead of more direct language (such as “you should know how long it takes”).
We humanize our content slightly and make it seem less like cold facts; instead, we’re inviting people into our world and asking them for help in solving problems together!
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I think technical writing should be fun again. I think we can do this by taking a few simple steps and making the process more personal for our readers.
So go ahead! Write a blog post or create your next email campaign with humor, good grammar, and alliteration and see how much better it feels when you connect with people who appreciate what you’re doing even if they don’t know why they like it so much!
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How can I improve my technical writing skills?
Enhancing your technical writing skills involves practicing regularly, studying style guides, and seeking feedback from peers or mentors. Utilize online resources and courses to further develop your skills.
What are some common challenges in technical writing?
Technical writers often face challenges such as simplifying complex concepts, maintaining consistency, and adapting to rapidly changing technologies. Overcoming these challenges requires creativity, adaptability, and continuous learning.
Is technical writing limited to specific industries?
No, technical writing is not limited to specific industries. It’s essential in various fields like software development, engineering, healthcare, and more. Effective communication of technical information is crucial across different sectors.
What should I focus on when writing technical documents?
When writing technical documents, focus on clarity, conciseness, and accuracy. Break down complex concepts into digestible sections, use visuals when appropriate, and ensure your content is user-friendly and accessible.
How can I make technical content more engaging?
To make technical content engaging, incorporate real-world examples, stories, and relatable scenarios. Use visuals like diagrams and infographics to simplify complex information. Additionally, adopt a reader-centric approach and use a conversational tone whenever suitable.
Costantine Edward is a digital marketing expert, freelance writer, and entrepreneur who helps people attain financial freedom. I’ve been working in marketing since I was 18 years old and have managed to build a successful career doing what I love.