What makes technical writing different from novels or a newspaper article?
Not as much as you might think, as you will see. I will take the users manual as an example.
A users manual should enable the user to operate a product safely. How to do that, well, I show you here.
The technical documentation contains the necessary information about a product. Technical documentation means all documents that describe a technical product.
The information about the product is systematically and structured. The relation to the product is apparent and recognisable, for example, names, numbers, etc.
There are internal and external technical documentation. The internal documentation usually remains with the manufacturer unless otherwise stipulated by contract; the external documentation is for the user. Hence users manual.
Often the internal documentation is neglected. For example, the designer of a machine is a sound designer and reduces risks almost automatically, but does not adequately document this.
External documentation, however, has a higher priority, because a user manual is the product scope. If this part of the technical documentation is missing, the product is defective.
Particularly with external documentation, product manufacturers can underline the quality of their products.
For the technical documentation to be useful, the reader must find the necessary information fast and be motivated to continue reading.
The user is particularly comfortable with the operating instructions if you stick to the following eight tips:
1) A clear target group so that the documentation can be interpreted.
2) A clean, understandable structure, so that the user quickly finds the topics that are of interest.
3) A clear layout to keep the reading motivation high.
4) Safety instructions that are easy to understand and recognize.
5) Instructions that the user acknowledges and follows in the correct order.
6) Pictures and graphics to explain facts.
7) Short, understandable sentences – without filler words.
8) Consistent terms – so as not to confuse the user, and favour the interpretation.
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