Technical Writing 101: Learn To Know

If you’re reading this, then writing for a technical audience is a part of your job. You know how important it is to use the right words in the right way. You also probably know that there’s more to effective technical writing than just stringing together words correctly. 

So let’s talk about practical tips for making sure your prose reads well and gets read by everyone on the team! Here are some of my favorite ways to make sure you don’t lose your audience along the way:

Introduction to Technical Writing – YouTube
1. Technical writing introduces complex concepts to non-technical audiences.
2. The basics of technical writing involve clear communication and simplification.
3. Understanding the target audience is crucial for creating effective technical content.
4. Technical writers often work across various industries, including technology and healthcare.
5. Mastery of tools and formats enhances the quality of technical documentation.

Avoid Jargon

Jargon is a tough one because it can be used in so many different ways. It’s hard to know when you should use it and when you shouldn’t, but it’s important to remember that your audience doesn’t speak jargon as fluently as you do. 

If they don’t know what something means, then they won’t trust the information coming from their screen or page and if they don’t trust your writing, then why would they buy what you’re selling?

That said, jargon isn’t always bad sometimes it can add some color or personality to your writing that makes it more interesting and engaging for readers. 

But if everyone at your company uses a certain phrase consistently (even if only internally), then feel free to include that phrase in an article about how great your company is!

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Use Active Voice

If you’re a technical writer, then you may have heard of the active voice. But what exactly is it?

The active voice is a style of writing that assigns the subject as the person or thing doing something. For example: “John broke his leg.” In this sentence, John is the subject and he did something he broke his leg.

In comparison to its passive counterpart (more on that later), using an active voice makes your sentences more direct and concise by focusing on who or what does things rather than when or where they happen. This makes for a clearer sentence structure, which in turn helps with clarity and readability.

Be Concise

Good writing is concise writing.

Concise wording is simple and direct, which means it uses the least amount of words possible. 

This makes for easy reading because readers don’t have to spend time parsing through long sentences and paragraphs. Concise language also helps you convey your message quickly and efficiently, without getting caught up in unnecessary details or filler words like “kind of” or “like.”

Keep in mind that conciseness can be a matter of opinion; some people may consider certain phrases to be brief while others might deem them to be too short or abrupt. However, there are basic rules of thumb you can follow when deciding how much information to include in your document:

Use active voice rather than passive voice (e.g., “John cut down the tree” versus “The tree was cut down by John”). Active voice tends not only to sound more authoritative but also requires less description than passive voice does which means fewer words overall!

Put verbs at the beginning of sentences whenever possible (e.g., “The first step…” instead of “First step…”) for maximum efficiency since this will help keep sentences short and sweet! 

Also, remember not all verbs need an explicit subject so sometimes it’s okay if none is given either I e “Rub hands together vigorously before applying lotion” (whereas without doing this step would result in greasy hands which defeats the purpose).

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Be Consistent With Your Formats

In your writing, you should be consistent with your formats. This means that you should use the same formatting style throughout a document and that you should use the same formatting style for all documents in a series or project. 

It’s also important to be consistent with your formatting across multiple pages within one document so that readers can easily consume what you are saying.

For example, if all of your headers are capitalized except for the first letter of each heading, then make sure they are all capitalized at least once before going back to lowercase for subsequent headings. 

If not doing so would make reading difficult or painful for readers (as it might if their eyes were hurting), then switch between an upper and lower case from time to time as necessary but only when necessary!

Avoid Subjective Language

You can also make your writing more objective by avoiding subjective words. Words like “good” and “bad” should be avoided at all costs. Instead, use words that describe the outcome of something or how it was done, like efficient or inefficient. 

The same goes for the use of “should” and “should not”; instead, use words such as can or cannot to express your thoughts on what should happen in a situation.

Use Verbs For Context And Action

Verbs are the most important part of a sentence because they show what is happening. Without them, you would have to tell your reader what to imagine in their head!

Verbs perform actions and can be either transitive or intransitive. Transitive verbs take objects, meaning something else receives the action of the verb the object. Intransitive verbs always act on themselves they cannot receive any kind of object or complement (that means an adjective that describes something).

Examples: The man walked across town in his red shoes. He sat down on a bench and removed his shoes and socks before putting on his sneakers. With these verbs, we know exactly what happened (he walked across town) as well as how it happened (he sat down).

We also understand who did it (the man), where it took place (across town), when it was completed (this morning), and why he did this task at all (because he wanted to wear sneakers).

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Use Consistent Tense

This is a very basic rule of writing, and it’s important to remember when writing technical documents. If you want to write in the first person, then do so consistently throughout the document. For example: “I installed Linux on my computer,” is wrong; “I install Linux on my computer,” is right.

For the most part, use present tense when talking about things that are happening right now (or soon), or use future tense for things that will happen at some point in time in the future (e.g., 

“Next year we’re planning on upgrading our servers”). You’ll also want to use past tense when referring to events that happened in the past: “A few months ago I decided…” Past perfect tense may be used if there’s some relevance between an event and something else that occurred before it: “…but before he could finish installing Linux.

Include The Audience In The Content

When writing for an audience, it is important to use the word you. This will help your readers relate to what you are saying and make them feel like they are part of the content. You can also use the words your, we, I, they, their, and them when writing about a collective group of people. For example:

The audience can benefit from using more than one person’s experience in their coursework and research projects because it gives them multiple perspectives on how something could be done better or differently to create new solutions for future problems that arise within society (you). 

Using this method may help students improve their grades by giving them more confidence in their work (your). 

If a friend asks what kind of career path interests him most right now then an appropriate response would be “I’m not sure yet but my dream job is something where I get paid well enough while still being able to enjoy my free time with family every weekend so if possible

Start With The Important Information First

The first paragraph of the article is vital to its success. This is your chance to engage the reader and make them care about what you have to say, so you should use it wisely. Start with the most important information, not a summary or anecdote.

Make sure that your lead is more interesting than your summary (if you have one). Your lead should be engaging and exciting enough that readers will keep reading, while summaries are meant to summarize key points from the article and help people who don’t have time for long reads read quickly and efficiently.

You also want to avoid starting with a quote because quotes can be taken out of context and may not necessarily reflect how you feel about something as much as they reflect how someone else felt about it (and sometimes those two things can be very different). 

Quotes should always be used in moderation anyway since they’re often unnecessary you don’t need an outside source’s opinion on something if yours is sufficient!

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Don’t Use Slang Or Colloquialisms

When you write technical documents, you need to use formal language. This means not using any slang or colloquialisms. You also should not use jargon (words that are specific to a particular group of people). Instead, try to use terms that everyone can understand.

If you do want to use contractions in your writing, make sure they are unambiguous. For example: “We’re going to get there by tomorrow.” is better than “We will get there by tomorrow.”

Also, avoid emoticons in technical writing because they don’t convey the same tone as words and sentences do.

Be Logical In Your Writing Approach And Structure

To be logical in your writing, you can use a logical structure, approach, tone, and format.

Use a Logic Structure: A logical structure will make it easier for readers to understand what you are saying. 

You can use a paragraph outline to organize the information in your essay or paper. A paragraph outline has three parts: an introduction that states what you’re going to talk about; an explanation of how you’ll get from point A to point B; and a conclusion that summarizes your main points and restates them differently than the introduction did.

Use Logical Approaches: A logical approach does not jump from one idea to another without connecting them with transitions, such as “on the other hand,” “however,” “in addition,” etc., so the reader knows how each sentence relates to what went before it (the previous sentence). 

This helps make sure readers understand where ideas come from and follow along easily without getting confused by sudden changes in direction or perspective – which is bad because confusion leads people away from reading rather than towards it! 

It also makes sure they don’t feel like they have missed something important along the way – which means they won’t need to reread sections over again just because they didn’t understand some part earlier on due simply because there weren’t enough signals given beforehand telling us when those transitions were happening between paragraphs/sections.”

Use Gender Neutral Language

Gender-neutral language is a way of writing that is inclusive of both men and women. It’s used in place of gender-specific language, which often implies that only men are acting.

For example, “fireman” and “air traffic controller” are gender-specific terms the former referring exclusively to men and the latter to men or women. 

In other words: using these terms leaves no room for female firefighters or air traffic controllers. When you’re writing about these occupations in general terms, there may be a need for gender-neutral language (such as firefighter instead of fireman). 

Another example might be changing “The first ruler did this” into “A previous leader established this practice.” This makes it clear that women can also be rulers, leaders, or have established practices in your post on Amazonian rainforest cultures!

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Proofread, Proofread, And Then Proofread Again!

Proofreading is the process of reviewing a piece of written work for mistakes in content, spelling, grammar, and punctuation. A professional proofreader will find typos, inconsistencies, and other errors in your writing that may make it difficult for readers to understand what you’re trying to communicate.

If you’re not sure whether or not your copy needs proofreading and editing, here are three signs that this step is crucial:

  • You have been given instructions on how often to revise your work before sending it out (for example, once weekly).
  • Someone else has told you that there are mistakes in your writing.
  • You’ve read what appear to be significant errors while taking a break from working on something else that isn’t as important but still requires attention (like personal emails).

Exercise Caution With Humor.

Humor is known to be subjective. What one person finds funny, another may find offensive. It’s important to exercise caution when writing humorous content because humor can easily be misunderstood by readers and misinterpreted as something entirely different from what you intended.

For instance, if you make a joke that has any racial or religious undertones in it—or even appears to have such undertones the reader might take offense at your words or view them as insensitive toward a certain demographic of people. 

In this case, your attempt at being funny could backfire on you by making people feel uncomfortable with what they are reading, causing them to lose trust in the author of the piece and possibly even abandon their interest in reading further into it together!

It’s also important not to misuse humor when writing technical documents because these documents should serve as an informative resource for readers who need accurate information about how something works or how certain processes are carried out; 

Adding unnecessary jokes can distract from such information and make it harder for readers who want just that: factual details about whatever subject matter applies here (such as biology).

Anticipate Reader Questions & Include Resources

You’re not the only one who’s likely to read your work, after all. Readers might want to know where you got your information or how the data you’re sharing was collected. 

They may be curious about some of your sources, or they may have been looking for more details and didn’t find them. Anticipate what questions readers might have and include resources that answer those questions in a way that is both comprehensive and easy to access.

A list of references provides an overview of what other writers have written about a particular topic or subject matter, along with links back to their full articles if necessary so readers can follow up on additional research if desired. 

You could also include references at the end of each chapter—but this can get clunky and overwhelming if there are too many separate lists (and it can also make your book less portable).

An appendix with contact information is good practice as well; people who don’t live in one place often move around quite a bit (especially young professionals), 

so it’s helpful when writers offer up multiple ways to get in touch with them: phone numbers, email addresses, social media accounts like Twitter/Facebook/Instagram whatever works best! 

Just remember that these should all be current; while updating outdated contact info once every few years isn’t exactly ideal either (because then people won’t be able to reach out), changing them every month doesn’t feel professional either and leads us back into our old friend “The Internet Is Forever.”

Read Aloud When Possible

Read your work aloud to yourself. You’ll be surprised at what you hear. Not only will this help you identify awkward sentences, confusing sentences, and overly long or short sentences, but it can also help you detect missing words or phrases in a sentence and even missing punctuation.

Know Your Tools! Master Your Software and Writing Apps

The first step to writing is knowing your tools.

You can’t write without a pen, and you can’t write with a pencil, or with a typewriter (unless you’re writing handwritten letters). You need to know what tools are at your disposal when you start writing and which ones work best for the kind of writing you want to do.

Master Your Software: If you’re using Microsoft Word as your main word processor, for example, learn how to use all its features effectively. Mastering those tools will allow you to create documents efficiently and effectively in any format or style desired by your clients or employers and it will save time!

Build A Glossary Of Terms & Abbreviations

A glossary is a key to keeping your writing clear and accessible. It’s also a great way to help readers understand what you mean when you use certain terms or abbreviations.

Many writers don’t include a glossary in their work, but everyone who writes technical content should have one. It will help your reader understand you better and give them confidence that they can effectively use the information you provide.


We hope that these tips will help you with your future writing projects. If you’re still feeling a little overwhelmed, remember that practice makes perfect! The more often you write, the better your skills will become. 

Remember: if it seems like too much work now, just think about how rewarding it will be when you graduate and get your first real job in the industry as an amazing technical writer! Good luck out there!

Further Reading

Explore more resources to enhance your understanding of technical writing:

Technical Writing 101: Your Complete Guide to Starting Your Journey – A comprehensive guide covering all aspects of embarking on a technical writing journey.

Getting Started with Technical Writing: A Primer – Learn the essentials of technical writing and how to initiate your writing endeavors.

A Beginner’s Guide to Technical Writing – Dive into the world of technical writing with practical insights and tips for newcomers.


What is technical writing?

Technical writing involves conveying complex information in a clear and concise manner, often aimed at helping users understand products or processes.

How can I start my journey in technical writing?

To begin your journey, familiarize yourself with the basics of technical writing, practice writing for different audiences, and consider taking relevant courses.

What skills are essential for a technical writer?

Effective communication, attention to detail, research skills, and the ability to simplify complex concepts are vital skills for a successful technical writer.

What industries require technical writers?

Technical writers are in demand across various industries, including technology, healthcare, engineering, software development, and manufacturing.

How do I create user-friendly documentation?

To create user-friendly documentation, focus on clarity, structure, and addressing user needs. Use visuals, headings, and concise language to enhance readability.