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Every job, every occupation has its rules, correct?
Break these rules and you’ll be in trouble.
Here are some general rules in tech writing:
Tech Writing is Correct
This is the most important (but not the only) characteristics of technical writing.
No matter what else it is, a technical document first of all needs to be CORRECT and ACCURATE.
If it’s not correct, nothing else matters. You can dump such incorrect document straight into the trash bin.
For example, if a document instructs the user to connect a 100 Volt appliance to a 220 Volt outlet, that is an incorrect and dangerous instruction. Wrong technical instruction can be very costly and even lethal at times.
So I cannot emphasize this one enough: please make sure your documentation is CORRECT above anything else. Double and triple-check the accuracy of everything you write.
Tech Writing is Detached
Technical writing is detached from our emotions and value judgments as human actors. For that reason, a technical writer should refrain from projecting human desires and emotions onto technical systems.
BAD DESCRIPTION: “When you press the START button, don’t worry if the engine does not want to come alive right away.”
BETTER DESCRIPTION: “Press the START button to start the engine. Wait a few seconds if the engine does not start right away.”
(What do you think about this post and video? Please leave a comment. I’d like to know what you’re thinking. Thanks!)