Writing a technical document can be difficult, but you can improve the process by incorporating a few simple strategies. Dr. Shannon Ciston , professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California—Berkeley, suggests the following:
Before you write
- Determine the purpose
Before you can begin to write, determine and define the purpose of the document. Ask yourself, “Why am I writing this document? What action do I want my reader to take as a result of reading it? Is the document informative? Persuasive? Both?” Answering these questions and clearly understanding why your reader is reading and what s/he hopes to achieve will help you create an easy-to-read document.
- Analyze your audience
Identifying your primary audience is as important as determining the purpose and is crucial to tailoring the information. “Thinking about you intended audience can help you make sure you’re writing at the right level,” Dr. Ciston says. In addition, using key terms and an outline can impact how your document is understood and used.
While writing, consider
- Am I writing with clarity?
Clarity is important in the writing process because it helps readers get through the document quickly and may determine how well your reader can make sense of and use the information. All professional writing is reader-based and thus should be clear, succinct, and easy to understand, regardless of the complexity of the information.
- Am I writing with precision?
While the information needs to be understandable, sentence structure needs to be precise to enhance readability. One way to do this is to “place the action at the beginning of the sentence,” Dr. Ciston says, to “make your point clearer to the reader.”
After you’ve finished writing
Many documents are reviewed by supervisors or managers, but writers must have the tools to be able to edit and revise their own documents; peer review is also helpful as, according to Dr. Ciston “Most writers do not notice small errors.”
Hurley Write, Inc.’s courses can help you and your organization incorporate these technical writing strategies for more readable, concise, and precise documents. Our customized online and onsite courses can help you further these skills and perfect your technical writing skills .