What Are the Five Basic Principles of Technical Writing?

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Technical writing is one of the most important elements of a company’s customer support strategy, and there are five principles that technical writers must bear in mind to be successful: content, awareness of purpose, writing style, accessibility and grammar or usage. Inattention to any of these five areas often leads to a substandard document and dissatisfaction on the client end.

Quality content is the most important principle when it comes to technical writing. An awareness of who is going to read a user guide, the knowledge gap that the user guide is filling and the delivery method of the guide all play important roles.

Knowing the purpose of a user guide is important, particularly with regard to the guide’s audience. Understanding the biases of the user is important when writing instructional text, as is knowing the responsibilities of the writer in communication.

Accessibility of the document refers to ease of navigation. If the document is a PDF, then links should take the reader from the table of contents to the respective sections. Also, a list of tables and illustrations is a must.

Writing with proper grammar might seem obvious, but a lot of people with technical backgrounds struggle with written communication. Grammar and usage must be clear and free of errors.

Writing style is the final principle for technical writers to remember. Different types of writing have different audiences, and each audience has its own linguistic needs, which the writer respects with tone and word choice.