Technical Writing Service


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Technical WritingTechnical writing is distinctive in that is used to simplify complex ideas. It takes up a large range of characteristics and skills used in every aspect of the work force. People often need very intricate information explained to complete some goal or task.

Some examples include:

  • Policies and procedures
  • User documentation
  • How-to guides
  • Instructions
  • Documentation about technical details of a product or process
  • Procedures
  • White papers
  • Case studies
  • Documentation for marketing purposes

Good technical writing is clear, concise, specific, and complete. It makes a job easier to understand and complete.

A technical writing project typically consists of several phases.

Initial interview

During the first interview, we will discuss the overall requirements of the project. During this interview we need to learn the goal, tone, and viewpoint of the document, as well as the details on how the work is to be performed and delivered.

  • What is the goal of the documentation?
  • What is the subject matter?
  • Who will need to be interviewed? How will those interviews be scheduled and performed?
  • What research will need to be performed?
  • Who is the audience (users, technical people, lawyers, and so forth)?
  • What is the viewpoint (first, second or third person)? Generally good technical documentation is written in the third-person.
  • Shall the document be casual in style, formal, semi-formal, or some combination? Most technical documents are third person, although first person works well for user-level manuals.
  • Is the manuscript to be published on paper, on the web, as a blog, as a PowerPoint presentation, or another format?
  • What kind of graphics will be needed? How will those graphics be provided?
  • How shall the delivery of the documented be phased so the analysis, interviewing, writing, and reviews can be done in small, manageable pieces?
  • An outline, essentially the table of contents, of the document. Each major bullet point generally becomes a chapter (or topic), and each during this initial interview the goal is to get three or four sub-topics for each topic.

Once the initial interview is complete, a plan is produced along with an estimate of the cost and time required to complete the project. Larger projects may require additional interviews to complete all of the points.

Chapters

In order to make it easier to analyze and deliver, technical writing projects generally are split into phases. Each phase corresponds to one major bullet point in the outline.

Typically for each chapter, analysis will be performed. For most technical documents, one interview per chapter is normal, although occasionally more are required. These interviews can be performed via phone, conference call, or Skype.

Once the interview is complete, a detailed outline of the chapter is produced, followed by the first draft. Depending upon the complexity of the subject, the outline may or may not be submitted for approval (this process is agreed upon during the initial interview). Additional research may be performed using the internet or other sources. Once delivered, the chapter is reviewed by the client and returned for any corrections.

This process continues until all chapters have been completed.

Changes in scope

As the project proceeds, it is inevitable that changes in the scope of the project will occur. Sometimes the analysis of each chapter brings additional information to light, or interviews might uncover more that needs to be written. On occasion entire chapters may need to be added or modified dramatically (and, less often, removed entirely).

One of the largest reasons why projects of all types, and technical writing is no exception, fail is due to scope creep. This is the phenomenon of additional tasks being added to a project without good change management. Thus, it is essential to record any change to the scope of the project, no matter how small, and determine if that change effects the cost and completion dates.

For example, let’s assume a simple user guide documenting how to operate four different data entry screens. The manual is specified as four chapters, with a goal of completing one each week. During the analysis of the second chapter, it is discovered there is a fifth screen that must be documented. This is a change to the scope of the project which will probably require additional time and cost. This will be discussed with the client, and an agreement will be made to (a) add cost and time to the project to add the additional screen, (b) not document the screen at this time, or (c) add the documentation of the additional screen to the end of the current project.

Projects fail when these types of changes are not discussed and understood by all parties, and an agreement made as to how to (or even if) they are to be incorporated into the plan.

Conclusion

Technical writing is useful to create documentation of policies, procedures, instructions, marketing support, and so forth. Generally, this type of document is written in third-person, formal, although in many user-manuals first-person informal works well.

These writing projects must be well planned, expertly executed, and completely understood by all parties. When a good plan is produced and agreed-upon, and when change is well controlled, you can expect excellent documentation.

Click here today to get a quote or send a message


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Richard Lowe Jr

Richard Lowe Jr

Owner & Senior Writer, Copywriter, Ghostwriter, WordPress Implementation at The Writing King
Richard is the Owner and Senior Writer for The Writing King, a bestselling author, and ghostwriter. He's written and published 63 books, ghostwritten 20+ books, as well as hundreds of blog articles.
Richard Lowe Jr

@richardlowejr

Author of Focus on LinkedIn, Safe Computing, Surviving Disasters, Help! My Boss is Whacko!, Insider Secrets from a Professional Ghostwriter and many others
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Richard Lowe Jr
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