In this article, we’ll explore the four key phases of good technical writing and how implementing these steps can lead to top-notch technical documentation.
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Phase 1: Planning
The foundation of any great technical document is thorough planning. In this initial phase, consider the following:
- Audience: Who will be using the document? Determine their level of expertise and design the document accordingly. If you are unsure of your audience, always write for the beginner.
- Purpose: What message or function should the document fulfill? For example, if you are creating a quick start guide, it focuses on the most essential steps for installation and setup. In contrast, a step-by-step tutorial provides a complete procedure with all the details.
- Style & format: Before creating new documentation, it is important to study the organization’s style guide and current knowledge base. This ensures that you apply a consistent style and format while ensuring the level of detail is appropriate.
Phase 2: Collecting information
Before starting any writing task, it’s important to collect all the relevant details in one place. You can do this by reading internal documents, talking to people involved (like stakeholders and subject matter experts), and collecting input from the end-users.
Double-check all facts, statistics, and figures. Keep track of sources, relevant information, and revisions. This practice ensures easy retrieval and reference during later phases.
Phase 3: Writing & editing
Now we can finally begin writing! Here are a few useful hints and tips to help you get started.
- Arrange your document in a way that makes sense to the reader. Use headings and subheadings to guide readers and make it easy for them to find information. This way, they can quickly understand the main points without having to read through everything.
- Read your text out loud multiple times to ensure it flows nicely.
- Use simple and clear language that everyone can understand. Avoid using complicated words that might confuse your readers.
- Break long paragraphs into smaller ones. Use bullet points, numbers, and images to make it easier to read.
- Ensure that each step is clear, specific, and logical.
- While you write, check that everything works correctly. If something doesn’t, ask subject matter experts for help. Don’t include anything that doesn’t match the user interface. Make sure everything works well and that you haven’t missed any steps.
Phase 4: Proofreading & reviewing
The final step involves proofreading and reviewing your technical document.
- Proofread: Ask someone else to proofread your text for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Consistency in terminology, style, and formatting should also be verified.
- Review: Ask the subject matter experts to review your text and provide feedback. Based on the feedback, make necessary revisions to the document.
By following these four phases, you can produce outstanding technical documentation that improves customer satisfaction and user engagement. Are you ready to transform your organization’s technical documentation? Book a free 30-minute strategy call with us to discuss how we can help you achieve great results.