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10 Qualities That Make a Best Technical Writer

  • 21 September, 2021
10 Qualities That Make a Best Technical Writer

Poor writing costs a lot of money. Companies lose almost $400 billion each year due to ambiguous content, poor writing, and terrible emails.

The reason is that every business now has to do so much writing, this is difficult to avoid. At the very least, all material produced for organizations should be proofread, and at the very best, it should be edited thoroughly. But this isn't always the case.

However, for many businesses, a more specialized problem has emerged: technical writing.

Now, how do businesses keep their audience's attention while retaining key concepts? How can they keep things simple without sacrificing specificity? Here, the role of the best technical writer comes into play.

If you have already decided to hire a technical writer for your business content, check out the following important qualities to ensure that the writer is indeed the best.

  1. Clarity of Content

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Clarity in content is the most important requirement for excellent technical documentation.

And the most important skill for any technical writer is to produce content that’s easily comprehensible, interesting, and logically written to arouse readers’ interest. 

However, this is no easy task – many of your company's specialists have extensive technical expertise but lack the ability to properly explain that information to others who do not.

Solution? Before hiring a technical writer, ask them to produce a short sample of trial content based on the information you provide.

  1. Working Knowledge of Technical Writing Tools

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Tools and applications are built to bring convenience, productivity, and efficiency. Technical writing tools are created specifically for technical writing, and they include task-specific features in addition to being user-friendly.

A skilled technical writer should be aware of the tools available in the field. Ideally, they should test out a few tools to get a sense of how they function and can be of help to them.

  1. Awareness of the Target Audience

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Technical writing does not always address the same audience. Knowing who the audience helps decide what information to include in a text, as well as how to communicate it most effectively.

Take an example of a user handbook. Actionable and simplified use cases are great for front-line employees who need to understand how the service works and what to do if they run across problems.

This same handbook requires additional depth and complexity for more tech-savvy management employees. 

So it is important to pick a tone, substance, and language, to make your message come across as focused and suitable. 

A standout technical writer can communicate to both audiences with equal ease.

  1. Research and Exploration Skills

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These skills are important for any tech writer but are most important for freelancers who work online as part-time technical writers.

When you hire a freelance technical writer, you may know that they have to deal with a variety of client companies they have never heard of and are unaware of their products.

In this situation, technical writing is a tough call. Only after hours of thorough research can they gather enough information on the given field to start with the writing process.

Therefore, a good technical writer must have excellent research skills.

  1. Brand Orientation

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Your brand has a goal, core values, and value propositions! While technical writing is often used to produce internal documentation for a product or service, brand alignment is essential to ensure that users, managers, and stakeholders are all on the same page.

Technical writers should ensure that all material satisfies brand standards in the same manner software engineers interact with IT teams to understand their requirements.

Brand alignment gives your team the vocabulary and concepts they'll need to send consistent, distinctive messages to customers and prospects. 

Hence, your best bet will be to hire a technical writer who will be able to confidently fine-tune the alignment of your brand and ensure that your firm is presenting a powerful brand to the world.

  1. Expert Planning

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Creating excellent technical documentation requires meticulous preparation. 

To begin with, badly organized documentation degrades user experience by failing to perform its main role of providing users with readily accessible facts.

Solution? Businesses need writers who can create content strategies and follow through on expectations in order to fulfill specified deadlines.

While this may be tough to assess in person or through email, it's worth asking potential writers for references that can attest to their timekeeping and attention to detail.

  1. Exceptional Sourcing

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For producing good content, sourcing is essential for anything from user experience documents to product manuals and technical checklists.

Great technical writers must be able to integrate given sources with relevant outside information to create papers that can be tailored to meet the needs of a variety of end-users.

Furthermore, for any tech writer, single sourcing is a time saver. This enables them to do more tasks without exerting extra effort.

Basically, Single-Sourcing allows you to create numerous documents from a single source.

For instance, suppose your technical writer is given the job of creating pro and beginner versions of a user guide. 

They may produce only one document, designate the sections that are exclusively for professionals, and receive two separate papers as outputs using Single-Sourcing.

  1. Communication & Collaboration

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A great technical writer must have the soft skills to connect with the team outside of their loop.

They must know how to ask questions. They must also know who to contact and have a sense of the various personalities and preferences of the individuals – the subject matter experts – in order to know how to approach them effectively.

The reason is that these SMEs serve as a vital connection between goods and services that require content that clearly outlines requirements, expectations, and context.

To put it another way, it’s not just enough to be a great writer. You also need to be a great technical communicator.

  1. Conversion of Ideas

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Most businesses understand the need for technical writing, but many are unsure how to successfully convert business ideas into accessible text. 

The best technical writers are able to take abstract ideas and embed them in conversational language, resulting in accessible writing that retains its technical significance.

This concept entails collecting, analyzing, and systematizing information.

  1. Education or Experience

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Of course, being a tech writer is simpler than becoming a front-end developer. In most cases, a technical writing degree is not required.

Many businesses, however, have specific expectations. The following is a list of the most sought-after bachelor's degrees for technical writers:

  • Journalism

  • English

  • Communications

  • Computer science

  • Engineering 

With that, experience is also critical. There's a reason why writers with years of expertise and a long list of clients are in such great demand.

Finding someone with proven professional training and experience may be a big advantage.

For instance, technical writers who are responsible for creating documentation for programming languages benefit greatly from having a background in software engineering.

Key Takeaways

  • Poor technical writers just edit the material provided to them by engineers without making any additional efforts at their end. 

  • Good technical writers put the steps to the test, ask themselves whether they completely grasp the material rather than assuming “the audience will understand,” and concentrate on delivering the information in a logical manner.

  • Excellent technical writers take it a step further and work like investigative journalists, by determining the user's issue and how the feature or product solves it. Instead of assuming the reader already knows everything, they often ask and answer the question “why?” and provide many links/cross-references to ideas and related subjects. They anticipate the queries that consumers may have as a result of reading the content.