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What Technical Writers Must Know

Technical writing that is purely technical is devoid of meaning.  Good technical writers know that right vocabulary, correct grammar, and clear objectives will not be enough if they are not able to connect the dots  and convey the message in a way that appeals to the needs and sentiments of the readers.

The writer’s ability to connect details is needed in technical writing.  This is the only guarantee that the material he prepares is meaningful to the target audience. Writers of technical materials like policies and procedures, reports, graphs, specialized documents, research will be served best by answering the following questions:

1. Who am I writing for?
Never, ever begin writing without identifying your audience first.  Both your message and tone will vary when you are presenting to your superior or your colleague, to a happy customer or to one who has just recently lodged a complaint.

2. What do I want to convey?
There is no point in even starting if at the onset you cannot specify why you are writing.  Your reason for spending time on conveying your message should be clear and make since from the beginning and carried through to the end of your material.

3. Why do I have to write my message?
There is a chance that your message may be more effectively conveyed in person or through a phone conversation.  In which case, just dial the number and finish the task within a few seconds.  This applies mainly to information that do not need formal documentation.

4. What will my reader need to do with the information?
Technical writers guide their readers clearly on the next steps to take or the ideas to ponder after reading the material.  Short does not mean hanging.  All meaning is lost if the the end of the material, the reader is still clueless on what he needs to do, at least with the information.

5. What do I hope to achieve  with this material?
Technical writers set personal goals prior to writing the material.  The goals for writing a technical material may be directly or indirectly related to the message.

In technical writing, the answers to these questions will ensure that the material is targeted, meaningful, relevant, and interesting to the reader.  Plan your writing by answering them clearly.    This is the only way your reader will benefit greatly.

Posted by TalkShop
Sheila Viesca, TalkShop CEO and Director of Communication finished her bachelor degree in Literature, masters in Entrepreneurship, and doctorate in Applied Cosmic Anthropology. She designed the Philippines' Language Competency Benchmark for the Department of Education and pioneered Integrated Language Teaching (ILT) in workshop designs and corporate communication training. You can follow her on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, LinkedIN, and Google+

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