Archive for the ‘Technical Writing’ Category

Preparing Yourself for Technical Writing

August 25, 2012

Most of the reader who have recently completed their education are preparing for their interviews. Probably some of them have not decided their career option till now. If you have ever came across Technical Writing profile, this article helps you to prepare for technical writing. Remember, once you choose this profile as career option, you have to write everyday something. To provide quality documents your writing style should be very good. Follow these guidelines to improve your writing skills.

  1. Write Everyday: As a technical writer you have to write a lot on different technologies. So, to improve your writing skills and develop good quality documents, you need to practice a lot. Write everyday something on a topic or about your daily routine. This gives you a chance to think quickly while writing.
  2. Read Something Everyday: Reading is also a technique to improve your writing skills. When you read an article or document, you learn different writing styles. Everyone have their own writing style and you can learn or pick some writing styles from those documents.
  3.  Proofread: During writing, sometimes you did not remember the basic guidelines of writing and commit the same mistakes. To overcome these mistakes proofread your document after completing scripting. Make it a habit to proofread your written documents, this improves your writing.
  4.  Update your writing skills: Check out the general guidelines of writing at a regular interval. Sometimes, writing style varies for different documents. Various writing tools are available in the market. Update yourself with these writing tools to make your writing effective.
  5.  Specialize in a domain: To enhance your market values try to write on a particular subject. Expertise yourself in a subject of your choice – ranging from a software to technology. This makes you expert in a specific field or technology. I had to write a lot on Adobe InDesign, and Dreamweaver.
  6.  Be Confident: Confidence gives you the power to face a problem. Be confident while asking or answering a question. Control your emotions, and try to show your confidence on your face. While interviewing, initially, you feel that subject matter experts (SME’s) are quite complex. But keep yourself updated with latest technologies, and learn how to ask questions. Make notes, and a list of questions to ask. You get expertise in the subject as time goes.

In this way, your writing skills will be improved which helps you to shape your career.

Requirements of Technical Writers

August 25, 2012

As long as manufacturers keep producing technology oriented products, technical writers exists in the industry. Technical writers are required to explain the usage, benefits, and working of these new technologies to the end users. The requirement of technical writers is increasing everyday in the market. Technical writing is a fascinating and lucrative career option for many reasons. Technical writers have the opportunities to:

  1. Develop a wide range of information including writing, book design, graphic design, web development, training and videography.
  2. Express your creativity in a variety of media and formats.
  3. Learn new subject from the experts.
  4. Find work in almost any industry.
  5. Be involved in interesting programs throughout the product development life cycle.
  6. Start working as a business analyst after a good experience as a technical writer.
  7. Promoted to Sr. Technical writer after a good working experience in this field.

Technical writing is an emerging industry in the market. People gets aware about this profession, and looking their career as a technical writer. Technical writing becomes a well known profile in the industry. This article is for those people who are not aware of this profile.

Well, technical writer is a professional who prepare technical documents for software and electronic products (mobile, I-pod, Digital Camera, and other appliances). These technical documents include; installation guide, user manuals, troubleshooting, and device configuration. It is responsibility of a technical writer to describe all the technical aspects in an easy to understand way. User manual is provided with all the appliances or gadgets sold in the market.

Technical writer gathers information from various sources, and prepare documents accordingly. When preparing user manuals for software, writer uses the software, and gather required information. By using the application, writer will come to know various facts. In this way, author becomes familiar with the appliance, and can represent all the features in a better way. Generally, technical writer plays a major role in success of a product.

The advantage to work as a technical writer is, you get a chance to work on different technologies. As a writer, you need to prepare user manuals, installation guides, white papers, story boards, business proposals, and e-learnings. Preparing different kind of documents is a very nice experience. But while preparing these kind of documents, audience level should be clear to the technical writer. Audience are the end users who are going to use the technical documents.

Different Types of Writing

August 25, 2012

When we talk about writing, it can be of any kind. Type of writing can vary, depending on the style, motive or technology on which you are writing. In my technical writing career, I have done various kind of writing, and today I want to share my knowledge on different types of writing which are given here:

  1. Technical Writing: It refers to writing technical concepts, and ideas in an easy to understand method. Today cell phones, computers, televisions, and refrigerators become an essential part of our life. Thus, it is necessary to understand installing, and troubleshooting these gadgets. Technical Writing involves writing on these kinds of gadgets, and creating online help, user manuals, installation guides, reports and other technical documents.
  2. Content Writing: It refers to writing on various fields, such as business, technology, politics, market, and research. Generally, content writing deals with the contents prepared for web. Main objective of content writing is to understand the target audience, and prepare content that can catch their attention. Content writing also used to prepare the content on the basis of search engine optimization to achieve the top ranking on the search engines.
  3. Copy Writing: Copy writing refers to write the content for advertising and media to promote a product, a group, a company, or an idea. Aim of copy writing is to sell a product, service, or suggest your target audience to choose your business, or organization. Copy writing may also deals in creating proposals, whitepapers, newsletters, brochures, press release, and other promotional materials.
  4. Creative Writing: It covers a broad range and involves writing on different topics – fiction or non-fiction. Generally, creative writing includes writing short stories, poems, and novels. Main objective of creative writing is to look the world from a different perspective, and express your thoughts creatively.
  5. API Writing: This kind of writing deals with application programming interface. API is a source code interface provided to interact with applications. API writing involves writing for programmers or developers. API writing helps end users to learn about the API functions, their purposes, and parameters that are available in the application. In simple words, API writing tells you, what a function is supposed to do.
  6. Instructional Designing: Instructional designing deals with systematic development of learning objectives using instructional concepts and theories. Instruction design is used to make the learning as much interesting as possible. This kind of writing is widely used to prepare induction training programs.
  7. Journalism: Journalism refers to writing and reviewing, articles and news. Journalism is related to writing the content for print media like (newspaper, and magazines), and electronic media like (television, radio, and internet). Journalist reports and writes on a variety of topics which includes politics, business, market, health, education, sports, and relationships. Purpose of journalism is to educate, inform, and enlighten the reader.
  8. Editing or Reviewing: It deals with modifying a document, audio or video to meet the end user requirements. Editing and reviewing involves checking the document for consistency, grammatical correctness, and styles used to design the document. This process confirms that documentation or audio/video material is of good quality, and is ready to dispatch.

These are different types of writing used in the industry. Each type of writing requires hard work, focused mind, and a learning temperament.

Different Phases of Document Development Life Cycle

August 25, 2012

Technical documents play a major role in the success of software/product. These documents include user manuals, installation guides, and help pages. For good quality technical documents, DDLC must be followed while preparing these documents. Different phases of Document development life cycle are given here:

  • Requirement Analysis
  • Audience Analysis
  • Document Design (Outlining)
  • Development
  • Review
  • Publishing
  1. Requirement Analysis:- In this phase, technical writer understands the software requirement, and starts gathering information regarding the same. Technical writer explore the software, understand various features by working on it, and meet software developers to gather the valuable information. Once this phase is completed, all the queries related to software requirement must be resolved.
  2. Audience Analysis:-Technical document which needs to be prepared by technical writer are used by certain users. It must be clear to technical writer who will be the audience of these documents. Audience level is not same for a software, and may vary depending on their knowledge about the software. Audience can be categorized in two parts – novice audience, and experienced audience.

    Novice audiences are completely new to a software. They do not have any idea/knowledge of the software. On the other hand, experienced audience either have complete or a little knowledge of the software.

  3. Outlining the Document:- In this phase, outline of the document is prepared, which contains overall plan/structure of the document. Outlining is skeletal format of the document, and gives an idea of placing the elements. This skeletal information contains, introduction, table of contents, chapter/section information, and index. Outline gives the clear view of complete document at a glance.
  4. Development :- In this phase, actual development of the technical document is done. Technical writer explains all the contents that are collected, and planned in the outlining phase. Development phase require some extra time as complete drafting is done under this phase. Detailed table of content is also prepared with page numbers under this phase.
  5. Review:- Reviewing of documents include, checking the document for technical or grammatical errors. Testing review is done for measuring the quality of document for technical correctness while quality review is done by quality analyst to find grammatical mistakes.
  6. Publishing:- After completing testing and quality reviews, the document is ready to print. After completing all the previous phases, this phase relates actual delivery of the document to its target audiences.
Understanding the DDLC process helps in creating efficient, error-free, and quality documents.

Software Used in Technical Writing

August 25, 2012

In technical writing, you need to create documents in various formats like online help, user manuals, courseware, print media, and web based trainings. Various tools are available in the market to prepare these documents. These tools can be categorized according to the task performed by them. Let’s have a look on these tools:

  1. Publishing Tools (Microsoft Word, and FrameMaker) – Microsoft word is widely used to do the publishing tasks. It is easy to create, review, and modify your documents in Ms Word but with larger documents (more than 600 pages), it can create some problems. On the other hand, FrameMaker is considered as more stable and consistent tool to design documents. Styles are very consistent and rigid in FrameMaker that helps in handling larger documents.
  2. Help Authoring Tools (RoboHelp, Epic Editor, and HTML Help) – With the increase in internet usage, users become more dependent on internet. Online help allows the user to resolve their problems quite easily rather than turning pages of manuals. Help authoring tools like RoboHelp, Epic Editor and HTML Help are used to create online help manuals.
  3. Image Editing Tools (Photoshop, SnagIt, Corel Draw and Illustrator) – Graphics play an important role in making a document attractive. Image editing tools are used in designing, capturing, cropping, and modifying an image for the document. SnagIt is a screen capturing tool while others are used as image editing tools.
  4. Screen Recording Tools (Adobe Captivate) – These tools are used to create product demos, engaging simulations, and scenario-based training. It does not require programming knowledge or multimedia skills to work on these tools. Adobe captivate is a screen recording tool and widely used to create simulations.
  5. Web Designing Tools (Dreamweaver, FrontPage) – Web designing tools are used to prepare the content in the form of web pages. The valuable information is provided on these web pages and helps the user to solve their problems. Animations can also be used to make these web pages attractive.
  6. Template Designing Tools (InDesign, and PageMaker) – Templates are used to provide same layout throughout the document. Adobe InDesign and PageMaker are used to design templates. It is very easy to design datasheets, whitepapers, brochures, and other technical documents using these tools.
  7. Multimedia Tools (Flash and 3D Max) – Multimedia tools are used to create audio and video content. Animations can be added to your web pages or web content to make them attractive. Flash and 3D Max are widely used to create interactive animations and demonstrations.

These are some of the basic tools used in technical writing. However, various tools available in the market used for technical writing. Companies used different software for technical writing according to their convenience and usage.

Importance of Quality in Technical Writing

August 25, 2012

People often respect good quality writing, if you deliver your work in a strong and error-free package, readers take you seriously, and your message comes clearly to your audience. Your words reach people’s hearts and minds. Your writing is more powerful than a sword. It inspires, educates, and sometimes entertains your audience. If your writing is weak, readers say, “So what happen next?” If your writing contains errors, readers may confuse or distract from the actual message.

Interesting, error-free, and quality writing is what people expect when they buy a book. As a technical writer, it becomes your responsibility to provide your audience exactly what they expect. Readers will recommend good quality book to their friends, give it as a gift to their loving one’s, and wait expectantly for your next publication. Reader-by-reader your world gets change. What a tremendous responsibility! What a wonderful benefit!

When you write something that you know, you write it with authority. People listen to you because you are one who knows. Your knowledge is a gift to share among people. If others have different opinion in the field, you are writing about, acknowledge the other side also. Your statement will come across more strongly if the reader knows you have addressed the arguments/questions they would raise.

Remember, once you write something, at least some of the readers are going to believe you. Nobody notices when it is done well, but everyone see your mistakes clearly. Mistakes distract even the most sympathetic reader. Try to use active voice as much as possible because active voice is stronger, and moves the action along. Usage of passive voice seems like you are trying to hide something from your audience. So go ahead, and provide the best quality writing to your readers.

Skills Required in Technical Writing

August 25, 2012

Technical writing is now noticed and gaining recognition with time. Recently, I read about technical writing in the employment news. An article about technical writing was published on the front page. It indicates that people now looking technical writing as a career option. When I have joined as a technical writer, nobody knows about this field. I need to explain about my profession, when someone asked me about it. It makes me quite disappointed when I found that nobody knows about this profile. But, now as I tell somebody about my profession, people praise my work.

The qualities of a good technical writer include analyzing, writing, interviewing, and instructional designing skills. To be a good technical writer, you should be able to understand complex subjects quickly, and explain them in an easy language. You should be able to identify your audience, and explain the things in a simple way. You should be able to write clear, concise, error free, and user friendly documents. Personal and technical attributes are also necessary for a good technical writer.

  • Personal Attributes: As a technical writer, you should be a good listener, and quick learner. You should have good communication and writing skills. You must know organizing your thoughts in a better way, and write them accurately. You should be creative, focused, and able to interact with end users.
  • Technical Attributes: Generally, people having degrees in journalism, English literature, mass communication, and engineering are preferred for technical writing. However, it is not stable, and varies from company to company. For example, a software company prefers a person with technical or engineering backgrounds whereas, a company into media and publication prefers a person with a degree in journalism and mass communication.

With the increase in desktop publishing work, technical writers are increasing regularly. These technical writers are responsible for the publication of books, courseware’s, graphics, and document design. Major tools used by technical writers are as follows:

  1. Microsoft Word
  2. Adobe RoboHelp
  3. Adobe FrameMaker
  4. Adobe Captivate
  5. Adobe Dreamweaver
  6. Adobe Photoshop
  7. Adobe PageMaker
  8. Adobe Acrobat
  9. HTML Help
  10. Snag It
  11. Macromedia Authorware
  12. Epic Editor
  13. Web works

These are certain tools generally used in technical writing. However, if you are not familiar with these tools, you can learn them with time. There are online tutorials available to learn these tools at your own. You can also learn these tools using the Help section included in the software. Some companies hire freshers (having no experience) for technical writing, and train them on these tools. But, if you have the knowledge to work on these tools, then it will give you an advantage in job search.

After all, technical writing is the field of professionals who know “how to keep the balance of content, grammar, and style to achieve the goal”. As a technical writer, you have to produce quality documents that help people to learn, and use the technology easily. You may ask to write documents for people who have different experience level on the technology. So, always keep your target audience in mind while writing.

How to improve your writing skills

August 25, 2012

Having good writing skills can be very useful at times. For aspiring writers, it will be an essential quality. Some people naturally have good writing skills, while others may lack it. If you ever feel that you can never gain good writing skills, you are totally wrong. Everyone can attain quality writing skills, if they try. Some helpful tips are given here, which helps you to improve your writing skills.

  1. Write: – Write something daily as it helps you to improve your writing skills. If you don’t practice, you would not gain anything. Writing is an art, and you have to keep on writing to brush-up your skills. But, if you are wondering on what to write about, not to worry as I can give you some ideas. You can write on an incident that happen to you earlier, or about anything interesting that caught your eye when you were walking on the street. But, if there is nothing interesting that happens to you while you were strolling, get creative, and think of anything to write. It does not matter what you write as long as you attempt to write something.
  2. Criticism: – Write on a topic of your choice and allow it to be read by a critic. If you always write, but never shows it to someone to read, and edit the article, you might not be able to spot the mistakes in that piece of writing. Once you write an article, proofread it, and check it for errors. Then got a critic (it would be great if the person is an experienced critic) to comment on your work. This would allow the person to give you feedback on your work, and at the same time, you can learn how good your standard of writing is. Even, if your first article gets a lot of criticism, do not lose heart. Take the experience as a learner, and remember not to make the similar mistakes again.
  3. Read: – Reading is another way to improve your writing skills. You could go to the library to search for books on writing. You can read the books of your favourite writer or subject to know about various kind of writing styles. These books contain essential steps of writing and help you to improve your writing skills. Apart from non-fiction books, you can also read fiction books of a wide range of categories. This will allow you to observe the styles of various authors.

Write something everyday, after sometime writing will become your habit. This way, you will be able to write almost every topic.