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A Good Technical Writing Course Will Boost Your Career
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Being a Technical writer and writing manuals is not just a matter of typing instructions on a computer and sending the result out with the product. There are a lot of different aspects that have to be considered. The two primary ones are relating to the audience of the document, and the format in which they are going to see the instructions. It is the purpose of a technical writing course to help you analyze exactly what is required in the way of documentation.
A good course will show you how to determine the level of the audience, thereby helping you decide what kind of information is required to be included. You will be shown how to adapt your writing style to be in an active voice, and to get your point over clearly. You will have to forget everything you learned in creative writing class.
You will also learn about the different types of documents you will be asked to write in your position as a technical author. You will find that it is not only user guides and service manuals that need producing. You will be shown how to create reports, documentation plans and even meeting minutes. They all need a different approach and writing style.
It is also important to be aware that not all documents are produced as books these days, some are never printed from the moment the writer starts their task to it being installed into some software. You may need to take a specialized course so that you know how to use specific software tools. It is even rarer to use a basic word processor when producing paper-based documents, you're more likely to be using a desktop publishing program.
As well as learning the latest and greatest software as it hits the market, you will also need to learn the special techniques required. These include single-sourcing, where the same content can be used for different kinds of output and the creation of interactive documentation such as electronic forms. You may also need to master a content management system where the content is reused over various manuals whilst still blending seamlessly with other content There is also a possibility that the subject matter you write about changes quite dramatically during your career. If you decide to go freelance, you could be writing about anything from coffee machines to air traffic radar systems. Whatever the subject is, it is important that you learn the basics about the subject so that you are able to talk sensibly with the support engineers.
Most technical authors are continually learning due to them having to work in many different environments. The fundamentals that you learn in a technical writing course will give you a great grounding in the subject; however, you should be on the lookout for specific courses that will help your needs. Courses are available for students of different levels in most software programs, and studying these might give you an advantage over your rivals for the next project.
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