The purpose of technical writing is to impart understanding through careful, clear communication. Technical writers must take raw data and other information, interpret it, and make it meaningful to the audience.
Some common technical documents are research reports, product specifications, and white papers. But skilled technical writing is also needed for the following business communications:
- Promoting a new project to management or to a client
- Writing a progress report on an office remodel
- Describing the benefits of a new product to a customer
- Summarizing what the competition is doing and how to respond
No matter what type of project or document that your team or organization creates, your success depends on your ability to effectively communicate your ideas and/or other information, so that your audience accurately perceives what you presented.
Here are some basic strategies for good technical writing:
- Before you begin, understand the purpose of the document and know the intended audience. A technical document is best when it is tailored to the audience. This dictates length, level of technicality, and tone.
- Be clear. Remember: you are writing for understanding. Use specific words and define unfamiliar terms right away. Avoid jargon, unless it is appropriate for the intended audience. It’s okay to sound natural and use your voice.
- Be concise. Don’t make ideas hard to remember because of wordiness. Excess words slow the comprehension of the main point. Don’t get bogged down in too many specific details; it may come at the expense of reader understanding. Focus on the most significant details.
- Use visuals, such as graphs, tables, and drawings. Well-done visuals enhance your text and reinforce understanding. Unless the information is very simple, visuals should not replace text. (Think how much better Ikea instructions would be if they used text to supplement the drawings!) Your reader can draw the wrong conclusions if a complex visual is not explained.
Like any type of writing, technical writing takes planning, as well as time to review and revise. You don’t have to go it alone. We can help at any stage of the process.
Would your organization benefit from creating or improving its technical documents? Would your organization benefit from technical writing training? Please contact Lexington Writing Firm.