Professionals always advise newbies on how to become great specialists. However, sometimes it’s better to highlight bad practices to help novice technical writers remember and avoid them. So, read the post to learn more about that.
Forget About Your Target Audience
You won’t succeed If you don’t define your audience. For example, your task is to write instructions for children. Using formal language to explain something to a child will be ridiculous. But who will prevent you from making your technical writing worse?
First, good technical writers always find out who the end users of a product are. For instance, professionals define customers’ ethnicity, gender, age, gender, marital status, etc. So, specialists create proper technical documentation only after investigating the basic information about users.
Write Long Sentences With Difficult Terms
Writing wordy and unclear sentences is another strategy to worsen your documents. Make your readers’ lives harder by using difficult technical terms and acronyms, such as case deflection, API, CSS, CSP, DHCP, etc. The more vague explanations you write, the more questions you leave open.
As an experienced technical writer, I always pay attention to the clarity of my documentation. I put myself in my reader’s shoes and improve my content. I create documents to help users understand something unclear regarding a product.
Publish Your Documents Without Reviewing
Writing and editing are necessary processes for creating documentation. If you don’t want to spend time checking grammar and spelling, you will face mistakes after publishing your text. It’s almost impossible to write a perfect document without rereading it.
I always check my texts before publishing — I read them about three times and sometimes ask my colleagues to proofread documents too. It’s brilliant when your company has a technical editor who can revise your texts. If you are a novice technical writer, the editor will help you find your frequent mistakes and improve your writing skills.
Use Only MS Word
Microsoft Word is a great tool… but not for technical writers. There are few features to use; you can only type text and insert pictures. In addition, MS Word doesn’t allow you to use single sourcing, machine translation, and other robust functions. If you want to make your life easier, find another help authoring tool.
As you know, my favorite online documentation tool is ClickHelp. Thanks to this software, I easily set permissions to documents, prepare topics for translation, and reuse the content in different places. But, of course, bad technical writers don’t need such features; it’s enough for them to use an “old but gold” text editor.
Of course, there are a lot more practices to worsen your technical writing. What can you add to this short list? Maybe you or your colleagues came through other mistakes.
“Follow the river and you will get to the sea.”