A Technical Writing Case: The Oil Spill
In the NY Times blogs, a reader wrote about the idea of the oil spill as a case study in technical writing.
Fascinating to read, this blog brings up a number of ideas related to technical writing that deserve a closer look.
Ease of Understanding for the Target Audience
When writing a technical document, it’s essential the document be constructed in a manner that relates the information in an effective way. If the document is too complicated, readers will not be able to use it, unless they have the proper background. If a document is too simple, then the reader may miss details that can inform later decisions. Identifying the audience that will use the document will help to create a strong starting point from which to construct a technical writing document.
Impact on Users
Though the technical writing may not be as life changing as the oil spill, writing for an audience means that the audience will be impacted by the content. Keeping the impact of the content in mind allows the technical writer the opportunity to look at the information and relay those parts of the process that might have impact later, if they do not already. Better said, when a technical writer keeps in mind the outcome of the process they are describing, they will ensure all of the details are included that might affect the way the outcome looks.
The chart the class used in order to look into the oil spill as a case study is simple and clean. This allows a person to easily review the overall picture before looking at the more minute details. With this sort of presentation, a person doesn’t feel overwhelmed by too many details up front, and are far less likely to skip over important details presented later on.
Creating a clean document is especially essential when it’s also clear that the impact will be great if the instructions aren’t followed precisely or the information isn’t easy to understand.