The most excellent technical writer

As Technical Author, an interviewer asks what makes a good Technical Author. Based on my 23 years of experience, here is my take on what makes either a poor, a good or an excellent technical writer.

Poor technical writers edit the content and leave it at that. There are no questions, no curiosity, even when instructions do not read correctly. In which case, if that is, you start looking for a new job.

Good technical writers :

  • Logically set out the steps starting at A and avoid no detailed Work Instructions leading to Step Z.
  • Methodically test the steps
  • ensure the content is easy to read and understood by reviewers
  • They know their ABCs

Excellent technical writers go a step further – we:

  • ask why – who – what – when – where, and how
  • analyse the problem the user is experiencing  
  • ask how the documentation will solve the problem
  • anticipate the issues users could encounter and the questions they will ask when they follow the material.
  • Build relationships with teams across the floor
  • Use humour and diplomacy to get what we want
  • Pretend we are a user reading the document for the first time
  • include links to related topics to keep the user briefed

All the above takes time, effort, and creative thinking, but as excellence is a byword, we never feel the pain.

By covering the above points, the documentation will positively impact the business. Excellent documentation boosts user adoption and reduces support services..