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Simplifying Documentation: Can Technical Writers Make Things Easier?

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Making things simple, isn’t that the goal of all writers? When technical writing is needed, it’s not for the technical writer to necessarily use, but it’s designed for some sort of end user. The case for simplicity becomes clearer when you think about it in this way, but is it possible?

Simplified design is one thing, but simple words are another. The good news is that the two can work hand in hand. By focusing on a few common attributes of the audience, technical writers can engage their audience, even when they never meet them in person.

  • The need for instruction – Users of technical documents need to be trained in the topic of the technical writing document. If they didn’t need the information, they wouldn’t be reading the document in the first place. Writers need to keep in mind that instruction is often the primary goal. With simple instructions, readers are better able to use the document to reach the greater goal(s).
  • The need for a next step – While some documents might offer instruction, the reader also needs to be able to understand the next step. The document needs to be clear about what happens next in a process, especially when the user is aware of the process up to a certain step.
  • The need for troubleshooting solutions – Since problems can happen in any process, technical documents need to cover enough information so that problems can be identified and resolved. A troubleshooting section is often employed to handle this task.

Technical writers are employed to make sense out of a process, but making things simpler isn’t just a part of the job; it’s what makes writing effective and user-friendly.

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