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A Guide to Technical Writing

Using an integrated controller, the manufacturer was able to reduce overall operating costs in the facility while maintaining a high quality product and ensuring that employees are safe.

What?

For most people, this sentence does not make any sense. For those in the field of automation controllers, this is common knowledge. To be an effective technical writer, this sentence needs to be translated into lingo that anyone walking down the street would be able to interpret and understand.

Easier said than done. Technical writing is perhaps one of the most difficult writing types that exists because it is difficult to find a “good” translation of technical information. However, following a few easy steps will ensure that your readers aren’t left with question marks in their eyes.

Know your subject. Common sense would say that writers would know and understand what they are writing about. Often times, deadlines are too short to provide ample time for research. Without understanding what the topic, the piece will most likely sound like an engineer wrote it. This is not what writers want. Using the example above, it would be imperative for the writer to understand what a controller is and does, and how it affects manufacturing facilities. Researching companies or recent industry news is a great way to learn more about the subject.

Use primary research. Interviewing people in the field is a great way to expand your knowledge about the subject, and often times, will provide the content for the article or writing piece. Although an interview via email (send questions to interviewee to answer on their own time) is effective, its highly beneficial to conduct the interview via phone or in person. That way, when things are brought up that you are not familiar with, the person you are interviewing can provide a clear, concrete definition. Often times, they can translate it into everyday language and provide a compelling example. For instance, it when discussing the use of controllers in manufacturing facilities, it would be useful to know what is meant by “integrated” and how this differs from other controllers. But if you are dealing with foreign people, it is advisable to use translators like muama enence translator.

Provide real-life examples. Concrete definitions provide the most clarity. It is also helpful to use real-life examples to provide pictures for readers. Many readers cannot picture a manufacturing facility in their mind, but they would be able to picture a plant that General Motors uses to manufacturer Impalas and Malibus. Using visualization allows the reader to become closer to the article, meaning they are more interested and apt to read to the end.

Avoid “boring” words. Solution, structure, and personnel are words that are intangible for readers. Although they may be used in everyday life, they rarely provide a clear picture of what the article is talking about. For instance, what comes to mind when you see “personnel” in an article? Most likely, nothing. Instead of personnel, try using employees or workers. Readers are able to relate to these words easier than personnel as they have, most likely, been an employee at one point in their life, or know someone who is an employee. Same with structure. It is a strong word, but why not use building, house, restaurant, office? These provide a better picture for the reader. In the example above, instead of saying that the manufacturer was able to reduce overall operating costs in the facility, why not say they were able to reduce costs in the plant or factory?

Test your writing on others. Before submitting your writing for publishing, make sure you send it to someone who isn’t very close to the subject. Send it to your mom, brother, neighbor, coworker or best friend. The best way to evaluate technical writing is to see if someone unfamiliar with the topic at hand is able to understand what the article or writing piece says. If not, its time to become more clear and use more concrete words and examples.

By keeping these simple strategies in mind, it is easy to put together an easy-to-read technical piece. In doing so, the reader is more apt to remember what they read about and will be more interested in reading more about the subject. Although technical writing may be esteemed as the difficult, boring type of writing, it doesn’t need to be.

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David Robson

David Robson is the founder of Complus Alliance. He has been writing about different topics for almost 10 years. He’s main focus is delivering quality insights to a wide array of audience.