How technical is Technical Writing?

This post is for someone who googles “what is Technical Writing?”

Well, most of us think Technical Writing is not very technical, also a bit of clerical as it doesn’t involve much coding. The common assumptions are that if you had written an essay in your college, you can make it through in a technical writing career. People outside the industry think it is too easy and inside the industry could easily assume it is an insignificant job. But believe me, it is all wrongly presumed. Like any other skill, Technical writing can be interesting and rewarding too, as much as any IT career.

Technical Writing definitely does not limit itself with good English knowledge. There is a huge difference between communication skills and technical writing skills. You have to get that right first. Writing clear, concise, not too dramatic but to the point, product focused\ user-focused documentation skills are the basics. If you have nailed your writing skills, then Technical writing can hook you up with a bit more interesting ventures of its own, especially with the recent trends that are emerging. I will list some of them below:

API Documentation: APIs are a piece of software that is being used to establish a connection between the other two applications or products. As this idea is been commercialized, these scenarios have a third party developer who is trying to understand the API to proceed with the integration. To help him understand the API faster, a documentation describing how to use the API is sent along. This is called API documentation and can be done by Swagger, Postman, and other popular open sources.

XML Authoring: You can do ready-made XML authoring if you know major XML editors such as Madcap Flare or OXyGEN XML editors and others in the market. XML authoring enables you to reuse the content in various incredible ways, such as single-sourcing where one content can be built as a user guide with an overview or an Online help with topics or an instructions guide just with How-to documents. Also, any piece of content or images can be reused across the project with Snippets, conditions and variables usage in XML authoring.

DITA: Before I say anything, let’s wipe that foggy glass. DITA is not an authoring tool or it is a template for writing. It is a suggested framework that helps to build content in small individual topics that can be reused across the output types that you are planning.

UX Writing: UX writer works with the software developer to write labels for the menus, buttons, error messages, warnings or any instruction texts that appear on the product. UX writing is transitioned from just labels to rich conversation experiences humanizing your product. something like this!

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And, of course, get your hands on the tools that are required to get these jobs done. Being a Technical Writer, you cannot skip MadCap Flare, RoboHelp, Frame Maker for Help authoring and Swagger, Postman, RAML, Rest APIs for API documentation. Learning Photoshop and video creating tools will add value. I have only listed what I been lucky enough to learn as Technical Writer for the past 6 years. Technical Writing deliverables are many and vary as per the industry requirement. As for IT, the above will get you started.

Wish you luck!

 

 

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