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About Technical Writing Writing Just Enough
About
Technical Writing
Writing Just Enough
Recipe What is “technical” writing? What is it’s purpose? How is technical writing done? When
Recipe
What is “technical” writing?
What is it’s purpose?
How is technical writing done?
When should it be done?
Who does technical writing?
How can you know when technical writing is done well?

What is “technical writing”?

What is “technical writing”? (and where do you find “technical writers?”)

(and where do you find “technical writers?”)

Technical writing is…

Technical writing is… © 2008 Joe Gollner

© 2008 Joe Gollner

Technical writing is not…
Technical writing is not…
Technical writing is done to… Purpose
Technical writing is done to…
Purpose
Define and order standard processes…
Define and order standard processes…
Ensure critical processes are standardized…
Ensure critical processes are standardized…
Present accepted norms for understanding & recognizing quality…
Present accepted norms for understanding &
recognizing quality…
Qualify acceptance& rejection metrics…
Qualify acceptance& rejection metrics…
Simplify complexity…
Simplify complexity…
Codify allowable error and excess in specific environments…
Codify allowable error and excess in specific
environments…
Detail operational necessities…
Detail operational necessities…
Reference systems demands and tolerances…
Reference systems demands and tolerances…
Highlight & describe risk…
Highlight & describe risk…
Structure available knowledge in support of research…
Structure available knowledge in support of research…
Identify useful content…
Identify useful content…
Assemble parts into a whole…
Assemble parts into a whole…
Show the way…
Show the way…
Coordinate functionalities…
Coordinate functionalities…
Facilitate requirements …
Facilitate requirements …
Achieve success
Achieve success
Write 12 volume bo Edit Distribute
Write 12 volume bo
Edit
Distribute

How is technical writing done?

Determine purpose of communication
Determine purpose of communication
2 Analyze the audience
2 Analyze the audience
3 Choose most effective format, organization, and style
3
Choose most effective format, organization, and style
4 Collect information
4 Collect information
5. Organize and outline information
5. Organize and outline information
Write first draft; then revise and edit
Write first draft; then revise and edit

Write first draft; then revise and edit

When should technical writing be done?

When should technical writing be done?

Officially…
Officially…
During initial requirements gathering phase of any project As project requirements are modified Whenever new
During initial requirements
gathering phase of any
project
As project
requirements
are modified
Whenever new versions
of existing “deliverables”
are contemplated
Normally…
Normally…
If you want your customers to walk away from product failures….
If you want your customers to walk away from product
failures….

If you want to reduce customer calls to your technical support team….

If you want to reduce customer calls to your technical support team….

If you want customers to “get” your product and become “affiliate” marketing push….

If you want customers to “get” your product and become “affiliate” marketing push….
If you want each version of your product to flow smoothly into an established market….
If you want each version of your product to flow
smoothly into an established market….

If you want customers who really like your company and your product…….

If you want customers who really like your company and your product…….
then technical writing ought to be included in every step of your business plan.
then technical writing ought to be included in every step of
your business plan.
Who does technical writing?

Who does technical writing?

An experienced, professional technical writer

OR

An experienced writer OR

An experienced writer

OR

An experienced professional with access to a professional content editor

An experienced professional with access to a professional content editor

An experienced professional with access to a professional content editor
How can you know when technical writing is done well?
How can you know when technical writing is done well?
The intended audience will “tell” you. Fewer calls to tech support Fewer customer complaints Fewer
The intended audience will “tell” you.
Fewer calls to
tech support
Fewer customer
complaints
Fewer product
returns
Vocal brand
loyalists
> Market share
Product that
works
Positive spin
Use professional technical writers. Start the writing aspects of project when you’re conducting initial requirements
Use professional technical writers.
Start the writing aspects of project when you’re conducting
initial requirements collection.
Be ready to provide useful, current information.
Follow the “recipe” – K.I.S.S. principle DOES work!
Quality of final product is directly related to level of technical
writer involvement in project development.

Recap

Quality of final product is directly related to level of technical writer involvement in project development.

Millman, Barry, How to Create Great User Documentation: A HandsOn Course ; IgetItNow Training (Internet Training Program), 2008

Reep, Diane C., Technical Writing: Principles, Strategies, and Readings; 3 rd ed., Allyn and Bacon, Boston, 1997

Jones, Dan, Technical Writing Style; Allyn and Bacon, Boston, 1998

Gretchen Hargis, Michelle Carey, AnnKilty Hernandez, Polly Hughes, Deirdre Longo, Shannon Rouiller, Elizabeth Wilde, Developinf Quality Technical Information: A

handbook for Writers and Editors; 2 nd ed., IBM Press, Prentice Hall, New Jersey,

2004

Information: A handbook for Writers and Editors ; 2 n d ed., IBM Press, Prentice Hall,

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