Posts Tagged ‘ Technical Writing Services ’

Tips on Writing User Manual

Writing user manuals is one of the toughest tasks in the field of technical communication. We all know technical writing is writing about complex technical information in a simple, clear and concise manner, which the targeted audiences can understand. Writing a good user manual requires a good knowledge in the field of technical communication. Following are some of the key points that a technical writer should follow before writing any user manual.

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Understand your Audience

One of the most important phases in documenting user manual is to understand the knowledge level of audiences. Depending on audiences knowledge levels, level of information put in the manual varies. If your audience is a computer technician, then it will be appropriate to add some technical words such as database, Control system, circuit, digital systems, and so on. If your audience is a layman who has less or no knowledge of technology, they might not be interested in how software of service works. They just want to know how to fix the things. In most of the cases, you want to know your audiences for a simple reason of giving the appropriate information.

Know Objective of the Manual

Once you are familiar with your audiences, you must ensure that you are adding appropriate information in the manual. Before jumping into documenting manual, make an outline so that you have a fair amount of idea when and where to place the information. Make sure you do not overload the reader with too many details.

Be Clear and Concise

User manuals should contain brief information about each and every topic. Manuals should not be cluttered with words that confuse the readers. Every user manual should convey information in a crisp, clear and concise manner.

Be Conversational

Try to avoid technical words, unless it is required. Readers often gets confused and overloaded with words that they are unfamiliar. User manual must be written in such a way, the reader should be able to get the required information easily. One of the best methods of being conversational is by including FAQ section. This section helps users to get answers to the most common questions that come in their minds.

Include Table of Contents and Glossary

Section TOC (Table of Content) is one of the key elements in user manual. Most of the user manuals are included with TOC to show the organization of the manuals. Inclusion of glossary section will improve the overall accessibility of the manual.

Add Illustrations and Examples

Include images and screenshots wherever necessary. We all know that a single image can speak 1000 words. Using examples while explaining technical information makes explaining easier and reduces inclusion of redundant contents.

Skills Required To Be a Technical Communicator

Like other profession, technical writing requires knowledge of certain skills. Skill sets primarily involves writing and illustrations. The world of technology and technical communication has evolved dramatically. Following are some of the basic skill sets that a technical communicator should encompass.

Writing Skills

For a technical communicator, writing skills can never be overlooked. A technical communicator should write in a simple, clear and concise language. Write up should convey information for a variety of audiences.

Technical Skills

Technical skills of technical communicators depend on the subject matter. Hardware and software documentation requires different skill sets that a technical communicator needs to bring on to his desk. Usually technical communicators have a technical background. A technical communicator asked to document developer’s guide may need to have a fair bit of knowledge on the platform. When a writer is tasked with advanced weapon system, they might need an advanced degree of engineering as well as solid knowledge of government documentation standards. A technical communicator should possess basic technical knowledge used in a technical process, product or a service which needs to be documented.

Tool Skills

A technical communicator must know various software tools used in technical writing. Since they have to develop document in various forms such as Word, PDF, CHM, and HTML. Writers must know specific tools, like Adobe FrameMaker, RoboHelp, Snag-It, MS word, Adobe Acrobat X pro, Author-It. Depending on the product and client requirements, technical communicators must be able to deliver various forms of documents.

Design Skills

Technical communicators should never underestimate the usage of graphics. Writers should be able to convey their ideas in a document with the help of some basic graphics. Being a communicator we should know that 90% of our brain captures information which is graphically depicted.

Testing Skills

A technical communicator should actively participate in testing the product, service or process. It’s a sole duty of writers to correct the spelling mistakes in the product.

The above mentioned skills are the basic skills that a technical communicator should posses. Skills may vary depending on the educational background of the writer and his field of experience.