Boots That Can Be Used For Fashion Or Hiking Technical Writers Are The Hiking Boots Of The Writing World

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Technical Writers Are The Hiking Boots Of The Writing World

If you are considering a career change and technical writing looks attractive. Take a moment and look beyond the salary. As with any big decision, it pays to do your research. In the writing world, being a technical writer is not the sexiest job. If writing jobs were shoes, then writing mysteries would be the stiletto heels and technical writing would be the hiking boots. Yep, it’s technical writing, utilitarian, practical, informative, necessary and useful. We are here to convey information, not to express our opinions or to showcase our writing styles.

So if you can wrap your head around being a hiking boot, then technical writing might be for you. But don’t stop your research there. You owe it to yourself to find out everything you can about a career before embarking on it.

Technical writing requires several really important skills in a writer:

1. Accuracy

2. Translation

3. Conciseness

4. Attention to detail.

Accuracy in technical writing means that the technical writer makes an effort to ensure that the information in the document is accurate. If this means additional research, then the extra legwork is done. Because of the technical nature of documents that technical writers create, people expect the content to be correct and accurate. The documents created by technical writers help operate machines, run businesses, use software, and conduct scientific research. This is not writing a novel. Even the smallest inaccuracies can affect the credibility of the document and reflect poorly on the skill and credibility of the author.

Translation in this context means that a technical writer must have the ability to gather technical information and translate it into language at the level of the intended audience. When a technical writer translates highly technical engineering language into a document that can be understood by an engineering technician, then the technical writer is a good translator. Not everyone has the ability to listen to a subject expert or read research material and understand it to the extent that they can write a clear document. This skill can be learned through a lot of practice, but the most successful technical writers have an innate ability to translate.

Conciseness is the ability to present the necessary information in an organized manner using as few words as possible. When I first started technical writing at NASA, it was an office joke that heavier documents were better documents. Of course, this was not true, but there used to be some belief that larger documents were more complete. Technical writers now recognize that doing their best means going through a document and removing all unnecessary verbiage, useless phrases and pompous language. Of course, it takes effort, but it’s worth it. The principle of keeping it short and simple is especially applicable to technical writing. We are now in the age of less is more. The result of cutting the fat in your documents will be that the documents will be more accurate, easier to read, more organized and easier to update.

A technical writer must have a high level of attention to detail. This means that a writer writes as accurately as possible, they verify the information in the document against the resource information, and they follow the rules of spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s is only the beginning of creating a good technical writing document. A technical writer also ensures that the formatting is consistent, the document is logically organized, and the language is appropriate for the intended audience.

These are the major skills needed to be a successful technical writer. Do a self-assessment and see if you have these skills before starting a career. A technical writer who possesses the appropriate skills will spend their time on a new job learning the language, subject matter, organizational style, and team functionality. A person who lacks one or more of these skills will learn the normal new job duties as well as the missing skills. It would be an uphill battle and success would be difficult, not impossible, but difficult. Better to know yourself well and be prepared in advance, regardless of your career choice.

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