Tools of the Technical Writing TradeTechnical data just cannot be created out of thin air. Data that is being written and explained requires an agile mind to get simplified. But of course it takes more than intelligence to make everything work according to how the data is best interpreted which means more than text and graphics choice. Universal logic flow is the most core of technical writing skills. Knowing the tools for better technical writing can help you out in sharpening your writing skills and build your reputation for creating technical documents that are reliable and supported by facts.
Here are some of the most useful tools and talents that you need to hone for leveling up your technical writing skills.
You need to be a learner, and a willing one at that. Of course, technical interpretation of data might need some degree or diploma to be able to understand a concept but most of the time it does not require so. A lay man might become an expert in a field that rock scientists are thriving at. It is the willingness to learn and an insatiable curiosity of understanding complex systems and theories that create expert technical writers. You might have an engineering or scientific background but if you do not have the willingness to learn, then you might get narrow-minded and limited in your thinking.
Contrary to common notions, creativity spawns from curious minds and not from freedom of thoughts that technical information might seem to be devoid of compared to creative or fictional writing. Most technical writers are assistants to scientists and engineers but they do not have the necessary academic qualifications to write brilliant white papers most of the time.
You need to learn to be simple writer of complicated stuffs. As a technical writer, you might get a project that documents complex systems or topics like flow charts, machine manuals, quantitative research and statistics, new theories, and specific studies. Your employer might want his scientific study in presentation to a average person audience that requires non-jargon terms to be able to get understood.
The ability to write clearly with plausible logic flow amidst the technical terms can be very challenging to write since it can take out the distinct writing style you use freely in creative pursuits. Manuals and procedures for example need to be actually performed to be be able to write comprehensive manner. As to most writing, topics that you do not have any idea about is hard to achieve and done. Rely on your own objective understanding to be able to back up any factual data you need to expound. As in many cases, resourcefulness also comes in handy and be aware of the right source references and citations you might need to acknowledge in your output documents. Simple is always the best way to get understood.
You need to use the right document and imaging processing tools. Presenting graphic figures and ideas can greatly appeal to most of the readers out there, regardless of how boring or scientific your topic can become. Visio, Word, Adobe photoshop, flowchart maker, and other platforms can be great partners in creating those technical documents that can greatly influence the visual of your general audience. Most of these applications are available in freeware hosting sites or on the market with affordable price tags. But you do not have to rely in these popular programs to be able to have a good lay out of graphics and ideas.
Presentation of ideas in graphical form is a honed skill. This can be achieved by assuming your reader’s eyes. Whatever works for those type of eyes can well work for your technical presentation. Of course, you should be updated once in a while of the latest applications that can help your technical presentations.
You need to be interactive with the people in the specific industry. Writing white papers for a scientific team might require some interaction with team members to be able to gather the right updates and ideas about their project that you need to document. If you do not have any technical background specially, you need to be inquisitive to the people involved in a scientific or technical project to be able to relate and know about the progress of their studies. You might also meet some questions along the way about operational terms or too complicated systems. Asking the people directly involved with the project or topic can greatly reduce the time wasted on finding the right answers.
You need to learn from other technical writers. Having someone else to look up to by reading or subscribing to their works can do wonders to your own writing of technical papers. Most technical writers started out doing their papers with the same format and layout style with similar or closely related topics. Your own skills of gathering, presenting, and writing have already developed into their distinct style that starters would also likely follow.
Skilled technical writers are sparse and are real assets to technical and scientific collaborations and projects. Good documentation made simple by technical writers make profound ideas find their way to the general public’s understanding. Their efforts and works in the technical fields become more easier to merge in similar and related fields with superb technical writing.