The Tools I Use To Write Technical Documentation

I write technical documentation for a living, and I have a lot of tools that help me do my job. Here are my favorite online writing applications and word processors:

Tools & Process for Effective Technical Documentation
– Utilizing the right tools can significantly enhance the efficiency and quality of technical documentation.
– A well-chosen set of tools can streamline tasks such as writing, editing, formatting, and collaboration.
– Technical writers should explore a variety of tools to find those that best align with their specific needs and workflow.
– Grammar and spelling checking tools can help ensure the accuracy and professionalism of technical documents.
– Collaborative tools play a vital role in maintaining consistency and accuracy, particularly for complex projects.


Focusrite is a free, open-source writing tool that’s available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. It has a free trial and supports about 40 languages.

It supports Markdown for formatting and distraction-free full-screen mode. Focusrite also has a lot of keyboard shortcuts that make it easy to navigate around the document without touching the mouse or keyboard much at all.

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Typora is an open-source editor that’s designed to be simple and fast, with a focus on writing prose. It’s based on Electron, so it runs in your web browser (or desktop app) without any installation necessary. In addition to supporting Markdown syntax and providing a variety of export options, Typora also includes some helpful features for technical writers:

A live word count that updates as you write

Autocompletion for code blocks in Markdown

Custom keyboard shortcuts


TiddlyWiki is a non-linear personal notebook for capturing and organizing thoughts, ideas, to-do lists, and other information. It’s an open-source wiki application that is designed to be run from a USB flash drive (and can be downloaded here). 

This means that you can take your data with you wherever you go you never have to worry about losing it. Plus it’s super easy to use! All of the sections in this article were created using TiddlyWiki, so I’ll show you how:

First, download the latest version from Then unzip it into your desired location (for simplicity I recommend choosing one folder per project). Next, open the index file found inside with notepad or some other text editor (I use Notepad++) and change the value of MainMenu at line 6 from “

Google Docs

Google Docs is a free online word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, drawing tool, form builder, and document collaboration tool. It allows you to create and edit documents from anywhere that you have access to the Internet.

Google Docs is part of Google Drive which also includes other tools such as Sheets (spreadsheet), Forms (form builder), or Slides (presentation).

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Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a word processor. It was originally used to write letters and other documents, but it’s evolved over the years and can now be used for many different types of writing projects.

Word Has A Lot Of Features That Make It Useful For Technical Writing Tasks

Spell-checking: This makes sure your words are spelled correctly. If you’re writing about something technical, spell-check can help prevent embarrassing mistakes like saying “detergents” instead of “dehydrated.”

Grammar checking: This checks for grammar errors in your text. If you’re writing about how a certain product needs to work correctly under various conditions, this feature will make sure that everything flows well together when people read through your documentation later on.

Apple Pages

Apple Pages is a word processor app for macOS that helps you create everything from resumes and school papers to wedding invitations. It has all the basic features you expect in a word processor, but there are also some handy extras. 

For example, if your document contains a lot of graphics or tables that need to be formatted differently than the rest of the text, Apple Pages will let you specify exactly how those elements should look.

Openoffice Writer

OpenOffice Writer is a free, open-source word processor that’s compatible with Microsoft Office. It’s available on all platforms and is compatible with LibreOffice, so you can use it to collaborate with anyone who uses Microsoft Office or LibreOffice.

The writer also has a built-in presentation viewer (to view presentations created in PowerPoint), spreadsheet tool, database management, and forms creator. This means you can create documents from scratch, or use the tools to modify existing ones. 

The software is very stable I have never had any issues using it at home or work; however, if you find yourself having any problems there are lots of resources online that will help solve them

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Latex (Text-Based)

LaTeX is a document preparation system, which means that it’s used for writing documents. The LaTeX markup language is used to describe the structure and formatting of your document. This is the first step of what makes up LaTeX: it’s all about providing instructions on how to format your text in different ways.

You can think of LaTeX as being like HTML, except instead of describing how things should look and laying out the content on a page, you tell it what sort of information goes where and then let LaTeX do all the hard work by itself. 

It also does most things automatically for you so that you don’t have to spend hours working out how best to lay out each part yourself or even worrying about some silly thing like whether paragraphs are separated by two lines or just one line (spoiler alert: they’re separated by two).

What’s great about this system is that not only does it do all this tedious stuff for you but also allows flexibility when it comes down to styling text within specific areas. 

For example, if someone wants bold text in my documentation then I just put b next to their name at any point during our conversation! That way we both know exactly who said what when they said something important or funny…

LibreOffice Writer / Openoffice Writer

LibreOffice Writer and OpenOffice Writer are both free word processors and spreadsheet applications, and they’re the ones I use to write documentation. They’re open source, available on Linux, Windows, and macOS (and also in the cloud). 

Both can be customized with extensions (for example, you can add a table of contents template or a mail merge tool) to make your work easier.

While LibreOffice Writer is still being developed by The Document Foundation the organization that oversees the development of LibreOffice they have announced that they will stop working on it once version 6 is released later this year. 

It’s currently at version 5.4., so if you want to continue using it after version 6 comes out you’ll need a separate piece of software called LO Writer for macOS v5.4., which will run alongside LO Writer for macOS v5.*

Microsoft Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code is my favorite code editor, period. It supports multiple languages and has a ton of built-in functionalities that help you write code faster.

Code completion: VSCode automatically suggests completions for your current line of code as you type, so you can save yourself some keystrokes.

Code navigation: This is one of my favorite features because it lets me jump around quickly within the same file or between files. For example, if I want to go back and change something on the previous page in this document, all I have to do is click on the symbol at the top left corner of a paragraph and then click on “Previous Page” it’s super easy!

Refactoring: With refactoring tools like Rename/Move/Extract Method/etc., we can easily rearrange our sources without breaking anything else (or even introducing new bugs).

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Emacs (Text-Based)

Emacs is a text editor that is extensible in a variety of ways. It has a “help” section that can be accessed using the ‘C-h’ command. 

From there, you can browse through the documentation to learn about all the different commands available within Emacs, which is useful if you’re looking for something specific and don’t know where else to look. You can also find out about how to configure your settings for customizing your workflow or navigating around files on disk.

Emacs is extensible in many ways: it supports major programming languages such as Python and JavaScript; it allows you to write code (and edit it) with syntax highlighting support; it supports coding with auto-completion; and much more!

Vim (Text-Based)

I use Vim, a text editor that is modal and is a clone of the Vi text editor.

Vim is a clone of Vi, which was created by Bill Joy in 1976. It’s an old-school tool that has been around for decades, but it has remained relevant by being updated constantly over time. Today, Vim has many more features than the original Vi does it even supports plugins!

Pluma Text Editor For Ubuntu / Gtk Apps For Linux

Pluma is a text editor for GTK+ 1.2 and above. It’s designed to be small, fast, and usable. Pluma combines some of the best features of popular editors: multiple document interfaces (MDI), a built-in file manager, syntax highlighting, auto indentation, and more.

It was originally developed as a fork of PTE, but over time it has diverged significantly from its parent project. Although it still includes many of the same features as PTE (e.g., split windows) it now also has many unique ones that were not present in PTE before being added by its developers (e.g., support for spell checking).

Slite for Collaboration / Tracksmith for Collaboration / Quip for Collaboration / HackMD for Collaboration / Penflip for Collaboration etc.

If you’re looking for a tool to help you collaborate with other people on your writing, I have some recommendations. Some of these tools are for teams and some are for individuals, but either way, they all provide the ability to track changes in your writing.

Markdown Documents With Github Pages Or Gitlab Pages Or Netlify Or Hugo Or Jekyll Etc

Markdown Documents with Github Pages or GitLab Pages or Netlify or Hugo or Jekyll etc.

GitHub Pages is a static site hosting service. It’s free and open source, created to host project documentation and tutorials more easily. If you’re already using GitHub to manage your code, setting up a new page on your repository is as easy as typing in a few commands into the terminal.

GitLab Pages is another great option for managing your documentation; it’s based on Jekyll in the same way that GitHub’s version is based on Hugo (see below). 

Like GitHub, GitLab offers free plans although they only allow one page per repository unless you pay for additional pages and support more than one language which might be important if you want to publish content written in multiple languages at once without having to create separate repositories per language.

Netlify works similarly to both of these options but rather than allowing users access through their repositories like GitHub does or using existing content management systems like GitLab does (which will require some programming knowledge), 

It allows users who don’t have any technical know-how whatsoever to create their website from scratch within minutes simply by filling out some basic information about themselves such as an email address where notifications can be sent when changes are made along with what type of content they’d like included onto their homepage before clicking “Create Your Free Site”.

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I hope this post has given you some insight into what tools I use to write technical documentation. As much as possible, it’s important to me that the process be as simple and efficient as possible. The tools I listed above have helped me achieve that goal, and I hope they can do the same for you!

Further Reading

Tools for Technical Writing: Explore a comprehensive list of tools that can enhance your technical writing process and boost your productivity.

Technical Writing Tools: Enhance Your Craft: Discover a curated collection of tools specifically designed to streamline your technical writing tasks and improve your content quality.

Must-Have Technical Writing Tools: Learn about essential tools that can simplify your technical writing endeavors and help you produce effective documentation.


How can I improve my technical writing skills?

Enhancing your technical writing skills involves consistent practice, studying industry best practices, and seeking feedback from peers and experts. Consider taking online courses, attending workshops, and reading widely in your field to refine your skills.

What are some common challenges in technical writing?

Technical writers often face challenges like simplifying complex concepts, maintaining consistency in style and terminology, and ensuring documentation accuracy. Adapting your content to the target audience and incorporating user feedback can help overcome these challenges.

Are there tools to help with grammar and spelling in technical writing?

Yes, there are several grammar and spelling checking tools available that can assist in ensuring the accuracy of your technical writing. Tools like Grammarly, ProWritingAid, and Hemingway Editor can help you identify and correct errors in your content.

How do I choose the right tools for technical writing?

Choosing the right tools depends on your specific requirements and preferences. Consider factors like the complexity of your projects, collaboration needs, and your familiarity with the tools. Research and trial different options to find the ones that align best with your workflow.

What role does collaboration play in technical writing?

Collaboration is crucial in technical writing, especially for larger projects. It allows subject matter experts, designers, and reviewers to contribute their expertise and ensure the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the documentation. Tools that support version control and real-time collaboration can facilitate this process.