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The Process of Writing a Technical Manual

A technical manual provides most valuable information on a product, service or company’s operating procedure including instruction on how to use, handle, and repair a system. The process of producing a technical manual is a team effort. In most of the cases, a technical writer is given only 10% priority of the whole project. Other priority includes designers, developers, testers, and editors. The whole project picture is usually seen by the project managers. Whether a technical communicator is assigned to do a user manual or technical manual or maintenance manual or any other technical document, he or she should know the process involved.

One of the first steps to document a technical document is to meet with company employee who is capable of providing relevant information on the product or service.  These individuals can provide information that can be included in the technical document, which vary from one organization to another. Varying information includes organizational flow charts, history, equipment, process steps, terminology, additional resources and abbreviations. Illustrations such as charts, graphs, screen shots plays a very important role in comprehending a process and will likely enhances the popularity of the manual.

Before starting-up with any documentation, it is essential to determine the table of contents. Dividing the manual into subject or topics can help the end users; this enhances the readability of the document.

Once the basic flow of the manual is determined, break each category into sub-categories. For example, operation manual should include section on basic operations and also advanced operation procedures. Writers must compile the manual in such a way that the section flows in a natural order.

 

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