Technical Writing

Creating clear, concise prose for memos, manuals, reports,
FAQs, e-mails, and even Web pages
Course developer: Glenn Weadock

This 1-day intensive course focuses on refining the skills necessary to write effectively in a technical context. The first half of the course examines writing from a structural standpoint; the second half deals with style issues.

1. Knowing your Audience

A. Technical or Not?
B. Advanced, Intermediate, Beginner?
C. Business Context of the Document
D. Level of Detail Required

2. Choosing Your Words

A. Avoiding Acronymania
B. Short is Good
C. Consider the Reader's Vocabulary
D. Precision Matters
E. Spelling and Custom Dictionaries

3. Building a Good Sentence

A. Subject, Verb, Object
B. Sentence Length
C. Mixing it Up
D. When Fragments Are OK
E. Common Punctuation Errors
F. Common Grammar Errors

4. Building a Good Paragraph

A. The Topic Sentence
B. The "Meat" of the Paragraph
C. Paragraph Length
D. Transitions
E. When to Start a New Paragraph

5. Building a Good Document

A. Headers and Footers
B. Subject Line
C. Contents and Section Titles
D. Index/Glossary
E. References, Cross and Otherwise
F. Footnotes

6. Elements of Style

A. Tone: The Writer's Attitude
B. Don't Be Redundant
C. Don't Be Superfluous
D. Using Emphasis for Effect
E. Sincerity and Helpfulness

7. Avoiding Ambiguity

A. Watching Pronouns and Antecedents
B. Stating Assumptions
C. Testing Written Procedures
D. Identifying Versions
E. Dating Your Writing

8. Managing Technojargon

A. Acronym Definition Guidelines
B. When to Define a Tech Term
C. When to Avoid a Tech Term
D. Platform-Specific Terminology

9. Special Concerns for Writing Electronic Documents

A. Writing E-mails
B. Writing FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
C. Creating Pages for a Web Site
D. Screen Size Issues
E. Navigational Issues
F. The "Archive" Effect: Careful What You Write!

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