Principles Of Technical Writing

Well-written and accurate documentation is the part of customer support strategy, and reduces support costs. Technical writing is much more than technical jargon, and concise instructions. Our audience is made up of humans, and not just technical personnel. Technical writing requires that the writer present a main point or thesis, maintain focus, organize and develop ideas, and use the appropriate style for the audience. The following are the basic principles of technical writing.
• Content
Five basic questions – who, why, what, how and when – are applied in various situations to develop the content for any kind of a document. For instance, imagine a situation where you have to create a report based on your balance sheet. Before creating a report, you can plan the content of your report by applying following key questions to the situation:
o Who would like to read the report?
o Why do you want to/or need to present a report?
o What this report is going to present to the audience?
o How is the report going to be presented?
o When is the report going to be presented?
• The writing situation: Audience and Purpose
Before beginning any writing task, the writer analyzes audience and identifies the purpose for the document. The writer asks following questions about the audience:
o Who will read the document?
o What are their biases?
o What are technical writer’s ethical responsibilities when communicating this to audience?
With regard to purpose, technical writers ask: what should this document accomplish? What should it do? Should it:
o Inform
o Request
o Instruct
o Suggest
o Order
o Report
o Reply
o Analyse/Critique
o Compare
• Organization
Writers use an organizational pattern so that it gives consistency to writing. Organizational pattern provide the document with continuity so that audience can comprehend the ideas. For example, writers can organize their ideas chronologically, spatially and categorically.
• Style
Writers change their style depending on the audience. A person would not write an e-mail to a close friend in the same style as a formal memorandum to a manager. Writers adopt either formal or informal styles, depending on the writing situation.
• Accessibility and Specificity
Accessibility refers to the ease at which the audience can gain the information they need from a document. Table of contents, headers, footers, page numbers, headings and sub headings help make the document more accessible for the intended audiences.
• Conventional Grammar and Mechanics
Writers adhere to the rules of conventional grammar and mechanics. Technical writers essentially proofread and edit the document for detecting and correcting errors in graphics, typography and layout.

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