How to Be A Good Technical Writer Even with No Experience

Have a great financial success by knowing how to be a good technical writer

According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary of a technical writer is 57,282 USD. You can double the number if you work for Google. Do you want to get this amount of money transferred to your bank account? Then, you should note how to be a good technical writer.

This profession appears hopeful in this current digital and electronic world. People undoubtedly need a guideline on operating something. A technical writer is responsible to translate the process of a product made by developers to a proper manual. So, common people ranging from children to elders can acknowledge and implement it to the product.

A company does not ask developers to write. But, it hires a writer and teaches him about an application. 

What does a technical writer do?

Technical writing is a skill of communicating technical topics for practical use. The fields are not only limited in engineering and technology, but it also goes beyond medical, finance, and forestry.

If you want to be a good technical writer, you must have this required skill. The communication skill of a technical writer refers to how he can provide qualified and digestible explanations. Even it is for non-technical users.

To develop the skill, a technical writer has some responsibilities and duties to finish.

  • Do research on the products, technical terms, and audiences.
  • Collect the documentation of product development
  • Write, maintain, and update procedures, manuals, installation instructions, and other technical documents.
  • Design style guidelines or templates for texts and illustrations.
  • Coordinate the project plans with engineers, product marketing, and product managers.
  • Edit and review the documents
  • Track the usage and feedbacks of the materials from customers. 

How to be a good technical writer

1. Gather information about the users

It is crucial to know whether your audiences are the expert in the field or absolutely new to the products. You have to determine what their goals are when opening the guidelines and what to input in the guidelines.

For example, when you are a technical writer of a new smartphone and create guidelines for reviewers, you may throw away basic concepts of using a smartphone. Yet, if you write for general consumers, you may need to add an explanation about some basics.

People with an understanding of how to be a good technical writer also focus on their niche and suit it with their interests. In this case, they can build experience in a certain industry like finance or pharmaceuticals. Consequently, they will be effective in writing the guideline.

2. Understand the document types

After gathering the research on the audience and niche, you will come to the document preparation. Your employer or client may have one type of content writing. Still, you need to confirm it first before starting to write because there are wide options for technical writing.

  • Technical reports
  • Technical manuals
  • Emails
  • Technical proposals
  • Specifications
  • The datasheets of technical specification
  • Handbooks and guides
  • Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
  • Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

Writing for technical manuals and FAQs, for instance, is different, right? The first uses formal language, while the latter is more conversational using questions and answers style.

3. Use the correct style

Reaffirming the document types will make it easier for you to apply the correct style in technical writing. The thoughtful planning and preparation process can help you work efficiently in this step.

Generally, a technical document must be direct, accessible, and professional. Fluffy and emotional words are not accepted. The following points are the supporting characteristics of the main requirements above.

  • Active voice
    Like what you have found in UX writing guidelines, passive voice is more difficult to understand. Thus, avoid using passive voice and maintain the use of the active voice when the subject is the doer of the action.
  • Precise word choice
    Match the words you use with the context. Sometimes, the consumer is confused because the necessary details are expelled.
    The wrong example for technical writing is: “If the light flashes, wait for a minute”. People who recognize how to be a good technical writer will type like this instead: “If the green light flashes on the corner of the monitor three times, wait for a minute until the desktop shows up.”
  • Plain language
    Integrating plain language in your technical writing means you use a clear structure. So, the intended audience can easily absorb the information. Avoid adverbs and simplify terms. For instance, do not write “utilization”, but change it with “use”.

4. Enhance with examples

The next step on how to be a good technical writer is to provide examples. Your readers will not be able to portray a real impact if you put too much theoretical description. Expand it with a realistic scenario.

For instance, when you write a user manual for a computer, do not just state “potential problems will arise if you do not shut down your computer” So, what kind of potential problems they would face? Explain it in detail, so the customers can realize the effects.

5. Show the appropriate graphics

Have you ever tried to plug in cables, but you do not know which cable suits which slot? Your readers may encounter this problem too because technical writing can be hard to convey when you rely on text only. So, integrate helpful visuals to supplement your explanation.

However, the image has to be relevant and well-placed, otherwise the readers would be more puzzled. Moreover, do not place decorative pictures in your technical documents and keep them clean.

6. Review and edit 

The final action on how to be a good technical writer, that is to review and revise. It is obvious to any type of well-made writing, but it is indeed not always easy.

So, do not count on yourself when it comes to the editing process. Gather other people to proofread your work. And, maximize tools like Grammarly or Hemingway. These aim to check grammar, spelling, and readability. The salary of a technical writer seems promising. But, you need to take steps on how to be a good technical writer in conquering this profession.