Technical Writing Overview


This overview module and the following modules have been written intentionally in the style of a technical document. This is so that the reader sees the type of content needed for technical documents from the outset. The language of the document has been kept simple to allow easy translation. Wherever possible, the modules conform to the rules they state.

These modules have been taught to small, eight-student classes of students. Each module takes 1 hour to teach. Additional examples and exercises were used.

Technical writing is a discipline.

Technical writing is not difficult.

In this module and the modules that follow, there are a set of rules that must be applied.

Most of these rules apply to all technical writing, some rules only apply to certain types of documents.

Most of the rules are independent of the style used.

If you learn the rules and apply them, then you will write better documents.

It is easier to write using a rigid set of rules than to have no rules.

The rules also help people like:

Technical writing rules

The basic rules are:

The difference between a technical writer and a technical communicator

Technical writers produce written and visual information for customers.

Technical writers write the following types of documents

To design and improve the product

To sell the product

To help the customer administer the product

To help the staff or the customer operate the product

To test and install the product

Management documentation

Management documentation includes:

What tools do technical writers use?

A technical writer's primary tool is language. A technical writer also uses

The essential skills of a technical writer

These skills are important:

1. The ability to use a computer

It is possible to write manuals with just paper and a pen but most people don't.

Most products include software that require screen-shots to explain fully, screen-shots require a computer.

2. The ability to write clearly

Technical writers

  1. Study complicated things
  2. Remove all doubt about a subject
  3. Explain complex topics in simple terms
  4. Add diagrams or screenshots
  5. Define abbreviations
  6. Avoid
    • Passive sentences (e.g. "Mistakes have been made.")
    • Long sentences

3. The ability to show ideas graphically

If you show an idea with a picture or diagram, then the reader understands the concepts better.

4. The ability to listen

Technical writers must listen carefully to the experts and then translate their concepts in layman's terms.

Basic technical writingal writing"

The process of writing:


  1. What does a technical writer do?
  2. What sort of documents do technical writers write?
  3. What skills does a technical writer need?
  4. What sort of people become technical writers?
  5. Why are you taking this course? (unmarked supplementary question)