Structure and Technical Writing Followup: Strategies to Consider
Part 1 of Structure and Technical Writing look at the ways in which consistent structure in technical writing can be vital to the usefulness of a document. As you create a structure that is consistent, users will be able to pick up the document, find the information they need, and apply it as needed.
Part 2 is intended to solidify that importance and take a look at a few special structure approaches you might use in developing consistent standards for your documentation.
Special Structure Approaches
When structuring a technical writing document, it can help to use:
- Bullet points – Creating lists of necessary pieces of information helps to separate these details from the main content of the document. Easier to read, these points can be skimmed quickly.
- Strong headings – Depending on the content and the audience, include headings that flow alongside the thought process of the document. Think about how the reader will move from one piece of information to another in order to ensure you have included all of the information necessary for the proper outcome. When a reader subsequently returns to the documentation, these headings can provide road maps for the reader to get directly to the needed information.
- Image descriptions – When images are included, a short description of the image, such as might be included in a caption, allows the reader to understand the relevance of the picture.
- Boldfaced terms – At times, making some words boldface can help to highlight important terms, stress important tasks and draw attention to certain sections of a document.
- Outcome expectations – Where appropriate, it can be useful to include a section about what readers can expect from the process outlined in the document, a technique frequently used in training materials. With this before them, uses can compare their results to what was expected.
Structure is not a Substitute for Content
At the same time, relying on these sorts of format changes will not help to boost the effectiveness of a poorly written document. Instead, structure strategy should be used to call attention to information and improve its usability rather than to distract from a lack of details.
Structure provides a backbone for a technical writing document, allowing for improved usefulness of the document. Developing and applying a consistent structure strategy can be an especially important step in improving documentation.
Structure and Technical Writing, Part 1