Writing

Technical writing breaks down complicated information into content for a specific audience. In general, technical content should be:

  • Clear
  • Easy to understand
  • Not subject to misinterpretation
  • Concise
  • Easy to follow

Grammatically pristine content that merely rehashes self-evident information is not useful technical information (“Press the Print button to print”). Good technical content provides information end users cannot easily discern on their own, and it also offers context by explaining how one action can have effects beyond what a user may have intended (“If you activate duplex printing on a printer that does not support it, only the odd-numbered pages will print”). An author must have a deep understanding of a product to offer that level of information, so technical aptitude is as essential as good writing skills.

A detailed discussion of writing technical content is beyond the scope of this book, but some basic principles of clear technical writing are as follows:

  • Know your audience
  • Use active voice
  • Be concise
  • Use the second person (“you can…” not “the user can…”)

Quality technical content is easier to understand, which means that you open up your information to readers who are:

  • Lower literacy
  • Reading in a non-native language
  • Reading about an unfamiliar topic

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