Brian Arlington is a freelance technical writer who has worked with some of the reputed companies to date. But at one point in his career, he felt lost.
He didn’t know how to improve his technical writing skills and the content he created failed to provide value. In the process, he ended up losing a few clients.
Now, if you’re a technical writer like Brian, you need to constantly think of improving your technical writing skills.
Technical writing involves simplifying high-level details and explaining them clearly to a particular audience. The challenge is to turn the complex information into a more accessible text.
Now, to deal with this challenge, the writers need to improve their writing skill. And how should you bring in this improvement? Read the strategies below and find out.
The crux of efficient technical writing is all about keeping your audience at the centre of it.
The audience has to be defined while you’re planning to write the paper and also has to be considered at every step of the writing process. Technical writers know that a tech-savvy boss needs different information about a product than a 13-year-old student.
After identifying your audience, refine it further by developing an ideal persona. Imagine the person who will be reading your content.
So, assign your reader a particular gender, age, educational background, career, a story for why they are reading the document, even a hobby. Rather writing for a theoretical audience, write for a specific (although fictional) individual.
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When it comes to content writing, it’s not simply about what you say. It’s how you present it. Your writing has to have a clear structure. Don’t just put a handful of data and expect your reader to be blown away by it.
Consider how you present the information. What needs to be emphasised first? What requires extensive explanation, and what doesn’t?
How should the information be sequenced and paced? Your writing should indicate a clear direction of development, transitioning seamlessly from one point to the next without any major jumps. It also needs to clearly highlight the most crucial ideas.
Your written text may be structured appropriately. But without proper layout, it will still be quite tough to navigate. This is why you shouldn’t undermine the power of layout.
The layout isn’t only about making your text aesthetically appealing. Even though that’s a function; but the main objective is to make your text more legible and easy to skim through.
“When you maintain the proper layout techniques, you create a map for your reader and guide them with it”, states Joe Morgan, a technical writer who offers efficient yet cheap assignment writing service online.
Numbered and bulleted lists, page breaks, headers, bold keywords, italicised examples, etc. will highlight the major ideas and make your message clearer.
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Your content is a bridge between the service you provide and its consumers. Always bear in mind that humans will read your text.
So, try not to sound robotic. Make your writing style more conversational. But that doesn’t mean you have to be less precise. You don’t have to include jokes in the text. Just be human.
People usually don’t like to be referred to as “the user”, so writing in the second person will humanise and make your text easier to read and process.
Also, Make sure you write in present tense and active voice whenever it’s possible and keep things simple. Your target consumers may range across different comprehension levels, and making your written text accessible is important.
Examples allow your write-up to connect with reality, and this is essential since technical writing deals with practical things.
If you are writing a marketing case study or a data recovery guide, then it would be ideal if the text begins with a scenario of things gone wrong.
When writing content, it’s best to refrain from being too theoretical. If you are writing a case study, you can use real-life examples of people facing specific issues.
Also, discuss what causes these issues, and how the issues got resolved with the help of the service or product that the case study was based on.
A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words. In fact, graphics and illustrations serve as a nice break from the chunks of dense text that can be boring and hard to digest.
You can use different kinds of illustrations, like diagrams, tables, charts, and screenshots to balance out the written text.
But include these graphics only if they add value, not just to make the written text visually appealing. Remember, your reader will be specifically searching for a particular piece of information and images can distract them from this search.
Don’t add any information that your reader can do without. The visuals you add, need to have a justification for their position in the document.
Also, make sure to highlight and crop the images properly, emphasising on the relevant information and leaving out everything else.
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Present your technical content in a manner that it requires little to no update. Where applicable, avoid making time-sensitive claims, or delineating information that will become untrue or inaccurate as soon as a certain date comes to pass.
For instance, if I said that we are waiting to see what happens to the technical writing profession in 2021 owing to the danger of people being replaced by robots, that statement will be outdated as soon as 2022 comes around.
This would open up an unnecessary need for updating. Try to keep your writing timeless and “evergreen” whenever possible.
Here’s a very important bonus insight that’s as useful as the other ones.
Nothing is perfect the first time around, and that applies to your technical write-up as well. You need to revise and then do it again until the text is flawless. But doesn’t mean you can simply turn the spell check on and call it a day.
You need to step away from the draft you’ve prepared for some time at least and return to it with a more critical approach. What can be made more concise?
What can be elaborated on a little more? What can be omitted? Make sure your writing serves its purpose, and that it maintains consistency.
When in doubt, seek a second opinion, and maybe a third. Also, reading the text aloud might be quite helpful. This simple activity can do wonders for detecting and rectifying unclear writing.
These ideas on improving technical writing skills can work wonders when you follow them sincerely. As you improve your technical writing skills, you’ll be able to provide value to your clients even more, and that will guarantee your success.
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