A good technical document enlightens you a little more at every step, so that by the end, you know everything you need to about the topic. But creating a document that flows logically is no mean feat. If you're planning a technical document, follow these steps:
- Brainstorm! At this step, you're just getting all the loose material ready; you don't need to work out what order to introduce your information in , or whether you'll include it all. Think of it as a painter opening up his cupboard to consider all the paints at his disposal.
- Decide the goal of your paper. Who do you want to read it? What do you want them to know or be able to do when they're finished?
- Choose a format. Do you want your document to give readers a historical, chronological grounding in the topic? Do you want it to be a reference document, where readers can use headings to find specific pieces of information? Are you writing a general introduction? Are you giving readers training in a specific task or skill?
- Once you have an idea of the format, arrange the information you've brainstormed into the sections where they'll be most informative. Create topics, subtopics, and sub-subtopics , however many levels of depth your outline requires.
- Once you have all these things in place, review the outline you've developed. Is the information organized logically? Do you introduce ideas before other ideas that rely on them? If you scan the outline from top to bottom, do you see any gaps or digressions? Revise the outline before you begin writing.
Planning a technical document can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. For more information, resources, and workshops to help you master the form, contact us at Hurley Write, Inc.