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Ten Steps To Technical Writing
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The process of technical writing is similar to performing a process for anything that requires skill and accuracy. The process for a technical writer or any other specialized skill revolves around a procedure of thought. The primary objective of a technical writer is to educate, train or explain something to someone. The technical writer must know how to write and must understand the topic to be written about. "Errors in technical writing," explained my boss, Richard L. Kintzele, Jr., CEO, Colorado Computer Center, "often result in bad data, bad decisions and bad days." Accuracy is important.
The technical writing process serves as a reminder about how to do something and allows us to think about what we are doing without trying to remember what we are going to do next. It is a logical process requiring us to do first things first. The process allows us to focus on the task before us without worrying about the next task in a sequence of events. The process serves as a reminder to help us remember or prompt our memory about the broader objective before us.
When attempting to write, we must also do first things first. Even experienced writers need a reminder to return to the basics of writing before proceeding to the bestseller list. It also helps to have a checklist available to help us remember what we need to do to eliminate errors, clarify thinking and communicate to our audience in a clear and concise manner.
This is why the first step in writing is to always conduct the research first. A subject must be understood before it can be explained.
Ten Steps to Technical Writing
Always take notes
Write it again
Write until it is right
Repeat process, as necessary
The first step in any writing process is to conduct research. Writers must know and understand the subject they are going to write about before embarking on the task of writing. This is why teachers teach us about a subject before requiring us to write a book report. We need to learn about something before we can teach it or explain it to someone else. Research is required. Know your subject and know your audience. It is important to understand the subject you are going to write about and equally important to know the audience you are writing for. While conducting research, take notes and, then, later when writing, you will be better able to share your knowledge with others.
Always Take Notes
While conducting research it is always helpful to take notes. The notes we write or scribble become the basis for an article, book or technical manuscript. Take notes whether your research is obtained from a book or from a personal interviewed. Notes are later used to help maintain accuracy and cite sources. In addition, note-taking allows you to:
Refresh your memory
Refer to while writing
Help determine how to organize the material into an outline or rough draft
Verify facts after writing the rough draft
Review for new information that may need updated or revised
Notes do not have to be taken or written in complete sentences either. Notes are simply reminders that are written down to help with memory recall allowing the writer to think while writing. Grammar and punctuation do not need to be perfect when taking notes. Wait to edit until after completing the first draft.
The process of writing always begins with the first draft. It cannot be called a draft until something is written. The first draft, whether partial or complete thoughts, is always called a first draft. It takes time to sort thoughts in a logical manner that will help your audience understand the content, context or meaning of what you are trying to say. This takes time. This is also why the first draft is sometimes referred to as a "rough draft" because our first attempts to write are meant to simply get words on paper so that we can read what we wrote while deciding what it is we want to say. The first draft may be only an outline or a few paragraphs, but this is what leads the way to the next thought that becomes a subsequent paragraph.
Types of Drafts
There are basically four types of drafts. Different industries use different terminology to label the draft within the writing cycle. The cycle remains the same within industries with slight variation in terms to explain the process of obtaining editorial reviews. The most common names for the different types of drafts are provided below.
The four types of drafts are:
Rough draft (words on paper)
Content draft (add content, refine outline)
Peer draft (prepare for technical review by peers to verify accuracy of content)
Edit draft (revise content, prepare for editorial review and publication)
Rewriting does not imply starting over by reworking all of your work. Rewriting implies revising one's work. After reading what you wrote, revise it, correct inaccuracies, read for clarity and purpose. Read what you wrote several times to ensure that you communicated the information in the best format and context for your audience. Remember the draft is a draft until you determine that you wrote what is needed to be written in order to communicate the information to the best of your ability. Rewriting is writing. Rewriting is refining the format, the content, the words or the text that makes something understandable by someone else. Communication is not easy, whether in person or on paper. Below are five steps to help you review or revise the content of the material.
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