–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