The Art of Technical Writing: Industry-Leading Tips and Tricks
One of the secrets to success within the online writing community is to possess the ability to adapt to highly diverse subjects while ensuring that quality is never compromised. Of course, Textbroker authors are known for their dedicated work ethic and dependability when the “going gets tough”. There may still be times when a certain subject proves to be entirely overwhelming; resulting in the production of substandard material. Technical articles are arguably some of the most challenging pieces to create and yet, they should always represent one of your faculties as a writer.
Here are some examples of articles that require a greater degree of technical prowess:
- Press releases
- Business or investment proposals
- The majority of product descriptions
- Performance reports
- White papers
So, it is clear to see that technical writing involves much more than scientific studies and theses. It is also a foregone conclusion that you will likely address at least one of these subjects from time to time. The main question is how you can hone your abilities in order to become more comfortable broaching a topic that might be confusing or unfamiliar.
Developing a Flexible Mindset
Recent 2020 statistics have found that there are more than 1.77 million full-time freelance writers within the United Kingdom. While this figure might initially sound impressive, another study estimates that the number of active technical writers stands at just over 9,100. Why is there such a disparity? It can be argued that technical writing represents somewhat of a niche sector; a talent that relatively few freelancers are willing to hone due to the fact that there tends to be plenty of other work available. However, broadening one’s horizons represents the best way to enjoy long-term productivity within such a competitive digital landscape.
So, the first step to success involves your ability to read and understand new information that might initially appear difficult to absorb. As an example, take a look at the user’s manual for a hazardous gas detector or the 2020 Google Analytics training guide. The best way to become more comfortable within such a decidedly demanding arena is to read through such materials in order to better appreciate the styles and grammar often required by the client. It will not be long before you discover that the real challenge lies in the structure and flow of the article as opposed to the content in question. This brings us to the next main point.
Brevity as Opposed to Longevity
Another common misconception associated with the field of technical writing is that all articles need to be extremely long and verbose. While this may indeed be true if you are describing a complicated subject such as quantum field theory, the ultimate goal is to provide the reader with only the most pertinent information. Filler content should be avoided at all costs, as the reader may otherwise become confused. The trick is therefore being able to find a balance between curating substantive material and embedding entirely too many details within the piece. When in doubt, always choose brevity over longevity. The good news is that the client will normally highlight the tonality and phrasing that he or she prefers within the initial brief.
The Power of References
It is just as prudent to remember once again that a good piece of technical writing will adhere to all current SEO guidelines. However, we are not necessarily referring to the benefits associated with authoritative references from an SERP perspective. We are instead more interested in providing the reader with additional information; particularly if you are limited by a specific word count that prevents a topic from being explained in detail. References can serve as a means to “bridge the gap” between the information presented in the article and other related resources that may help to reinforce the content in question. Of course, make certain that all references are vetted and come from reputable third-party sources (unless specified otherwise within the instructions).
Begin from a Firm Foundation
As stated previously in this article, one pitfall which many writers fail to supersede involves the structure of the article. You should always approach any technical piece with a plan in place. This will normally come in the form of an outline. Here is a fictional example of how one might be constructed if you were assigned a project involving how to paint a door:
- Clean and sand the surface.
- Use caulk to fill in any gaps around the panels.
- Paint the door with an initial coat of primer.
- After the primer has thoroughly dried, apply two top coats of latex-based paint.
While this might appear to be oversimplifying things a bit, the fact of the matter is that an outline will save you a great deal of time and aggravation; particularly if you are required to address numerous facets revolving around complicated subjects. Much like constructing a house from the ground up, your article will never embrace its true potential if the blueprints have not been prepared.
On a final note, never be afraid to ask for clarification from the client or to contact the team at Textbroker for further assistance. Becoming a qualified technical writer can open up a world of opportunities, and with a bit of focused effort, there are no limitations to what you can achieve.
About our authorRon first arrived in Barcelona, Spain in 2007. Although initially pursuing a career in wealth management and finance, he learned that the content writing community provided the highest level of personal satisfaction while still being able to personally help clients. He has been a full-time professional writer since 2011. Some of his other interests include martial arts and bodybuilding.