How Engineers Can Improve Technical Writing Skills

Engineers are highly technical people who essentially don’t mean they are good technical writers. Engineers should understand that they are documenting their ideas and not to impress. This is the main key for successful documentation. In this article we shall discuss some important points that an engineer should follow before documenting any product or service.bw

One of the main Keys for successful documentation is “keep it simple”. Relaxed writing style can add clarity and vigour to your documents.

Know Your Audiences: Before documenting any product or service you must know the knowledge level of your audiences (end-users). Your document should serve the purpose. Assume the document is intended for lay people and you have written the document for engineers, then the document is of no use. You have to re-write the entire document.

Be Concise: Technical personals are busy people, so your document should be crisp clear and concise. Avoid usage of redundant words. Avoid usage of wordiness in which a modifier repeats an idea which is already conveyed.

Be Consistent: Inconsistency in the document may confuse your readers, and convince them written document is disorganized. Good technical writers strive for consistency in the use of grammar, technical terms, symbols and abbreviations.

Avoid Big Words: Sometimes Writers prefer to use big words instead of short words. Use simple and straight forward English, your readers will love you for it. Some of the big words used are terminated, optimum, and incombustible and so on; these words can be replaced by the end, best and fireproof.

Use Visuals: We all know that a single image represents 1000 words, so drawing, graphics screen-shots can re-enforce your text. Visual representation can make your document more attractive and more effective. We remember 12% of what we read, but 35% of what we see. Different types of visuals that can be used in the documentation are photographs, schematic diagrams, tables, graphs, charts (Pie, bar, graphs), and maps.

Use Active voice: In active voice, action is expressed directly. In passive voice, the action is indirect. Statements written in active voice are simple, easy to understand, and concise. When possible, use active voice. Your document should be vigorous and straight.

Prefer Specific Over General: Technical end-users are interested to read detailed specific technical information such as facts, recommendations, figures, and conclusions. Be specific whenever possible; contents should not say something is good, bad, fast or slow, but instead it can say how good, how bad, how fast and how slow.

Breakup Writing into Short Sentences: Long, unbroken blocks of contents intimidate and bore readers. Break your content into smaller chunks–makes it easier to read and understand. In the same way shorter sentences are easier to grasp than longer ones.

I hope the above tips help engineers to improve their technical writing skills.

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