–Tech­ni­cal Writ­ing For Dum­mies® by Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts

Any­one who writes tech­ni­cal doc­u­ments must under­stand how crit­i­cal it is to take a
strate­gic approach. For exam­ple, if you design a cus­tom home, do you first call some­one
to wield a ham­mer? Of course not. A ham­mer is merely a tool. To design a cus­tom home,
you call an archi­tect — a trained pro­fes­sional who designs lay­out; ren­ders plans for the
plumb­ing, elec­tri­cal, and heat­ing sys­tems; and pro­vides the struc­ture. Then you call
some­one who knows ham­mers.
The same holds true in tech­ni­cal writ­ing. Effec­tive tech­ni­cal doc­u­ments require an
infor­ma­tion archi­tect — a tech­ni­cal writer . Whether this per­son is a pro­fes­sional
tech­ni­cal writer or an engi­neer or soft­ware devel­oper who writes tech­ni­cal doc­u­ments,
she must plan, design, and pro­vide log­i­cal struc­ture. Any­one can learn to use the
soft­ware to cre­ate the doc­u­ment. Much like the ham­mer, soft­ware is merely a tool. The
key to writ­ing a great doc­u­ment is strat­egy, not soft­ware.

Some­one once told me that she wouldn’t make a good tech­ni­cal writer because she
can’t even use jumper cables to rev up an ail­ing car bat­tery. Remem­ber that
tech­ni­cal writ­ing isn’t about jumper cables or about under­stand­ing every aspect of
the tech­ni­cal and sci­en­tific com­mu­ni­ties. And it isn’t about know­ing every nuance of
the lat­est soft­ware appli­ca­tion. Very few peo­ple have that broad a knowl­edge base.
Tech­ni­cal writ­ing is about using strat­egy and resources to write clear, accu­rate, and
log­i­cal doc­u­ments. If you apply a log­i­cal strat­egy and avail your­self of resources,
you can write just about any­thing — from turn­ing on your com­puter to assem­bling a
jet airplane.

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