As you know, the main goal of technical writing is to help users do the right thing and do the thing quickly and easily. As a technical writer, how can you make sure that the content you create helps users do this? In this article, I’ll tell you about the main characteristics of effective technical content.
Here they are:
- Relevant. Your documentation provides the information that users are looking for. It doesn’t contain design specifications or unnecessary description of a product.
- Concise. The users should be able to read the information and get what they want quickly that’s why your topics must be crisp and to the point.
- Precise. Check the content twice before publishing in order to make sure that there are no mistakes or typos since, I’m sure, you don’t want the users to do something wrong.
- Complete. Your content should be complete within the defined context and scope. Make sure that topics don’t contain your notes, all review comments are done, and so on.
- Accessible. Documentation should be delivered in the form that will be convenient for your readers and they will get the information quickly. Moreover, you should optimize your content according to the main accessibility standards to make your topics accessible for people with disabilities. To learn more, read this topic:Importance of Accessibility in Technical Writing
- Well-Structured. Your content should not be a wall of text, topics must have headings, Table of Contents, Index, cross-references, links, and the like to make your documentation more readable and easy-to-use. Here is an article about how I organize my technical documentation: How I Organize Documentation.
- Well-Illustrated. Technical documentation is not only about text — add screenshots/photos, charts, gifs, videos to make your documentation more vivid and help readers get the main ideas quickly.
In the article called ‘5C’s of Technical Writing’ I told about important rules — 5C’s that you should follow to improve your writing. I recommend that you read it to make your documentation even more informative.
To make sure that you don’t miss anything and your documentation will read gladly, follow the points of this free ready-to-use checklist ‘Health Checklist for Your Technical Documentation’.
Kesi ParkerJob position: Freelance Technical Writer. I use ClickHelp for technical writing.
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