Basic Elements of Technical Writing

Technical writing is a specialized form of writing.

Its objective is to help readers to use a technology or understand a process, product or concept. Often these processes, products or concepts are complex, but they must be expressed in a much simpler and easier way to read.

Therefore, within the technical writing genre, you will find: technical reports, installation and maintenance manuals, proposals, white documents, online help, process rules, work instructions and procedures.

While each discipline has its specific requirements, some basic elements are common. But before you see them, the most important thing a technical writer should consider is the audience.


  • How familiar are readers with the subject and with the specialists? terms and abbreviations you need to use?
  • What is the best way to explain these terms or abbreviated forms – footnotes, endnotes, glossary, abbreviations table, appendix, links?
  • Do you need to accommodate secondary readers (eg the manager or financier who will make the decision on the proposal), and how will you do it?

Now, for those important elements:

  1. Clarity – The logical flow of the document will help readers understand the content. It may be helpful to ask someone who is not familiar with the topic to review your writing before finalizing it. Using headings, illustrations, graphs or tables can be useful: your goal is to make it as easy as possible for readers to understand what you have written. Consider how the way the text is on the page or screen, another clue to maximize clarity for your readers.
  2. Accuracy – The information and interpretation of the data you submit must be accurate. If not, your readers will question the credibility of the content. Be careful to clearly differentiate between facts and opinions, and cite references to other works accurately.
  3. Brevity – Strive to find a balance between the amount of information presented and the time needed to read the document. Remember that you can use an appendix or link to provide complementary or background information. Consider using an illustration, a table or a graphic instead of words to explain a concept, but remember, if you use a visual, do not provide a long written explanation.
  4. Sentence length – Generally, complex or unknown concepts are best presented in shorter sentences. This will give readers time to digest small data before moving on to the next. While this may be difficult to achieve, try to target approximately 25 words per sentence. If you find that you have written a series of long sentences, look for & # 39; and & # 39 ;, & # 39; but & # 39 ;, & # 39; however, & # 39; and similar words where you can break the sentence.
  5. Paragraphs – Age – the previous rule on a subject by paragraph is a useful guide. That does not mean that you can only have one paragraph for each topic, but it does mean that having only one topic in each paragraph makes it a clear and logical writing.
  6. Reader-Centered – You are writing for your readers Make it as easy as possible for them to understand their work.

Consider these basic elements and other principles when performing your technical writing assignments.

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