What is a technical article?
The question seems a little vague to me. A technical article is an article for a magazine or an online service that is about a technical topic, and typically the article drills down into some low-level of detail. Could be computers, could be physics or chemistry or any other science. Could be about math. Could be about medicine or health or diet. Could be about the physics of cooking. There are literally thousands of potential topics of technical articles.
A technical article provides information about technical or specialized topics, such as computer applications, medical procedures, how something works, or environmental regulations.
How do I write a technical article?
For me, technical articles are basically written for 3 things.
A. To showcase your study and understanding of a particular topic.
B. To put forward something new and innovative or
C. To establish and reaffirm an already proven phenomenon (theoretically or otherwise). Depending on the type of article you want to write you can choose the tone required. After finishing my research, I gather all the data I have and the first thing I do is write down the inference. This gives me the guide to list down all citations, references etc. Next comes the difficult part the beginning. Its not only the most important bit of your paper but also serves as an orientation to the point(s) you are trying to make. I generally start by stating a well known fact, something very basic and elementary. After that its just about connecting the dots and if you have time I would definitely recommend through proofreading and revising at least once.
This is a technique that I prefer and you should try to devise your own according to your comfort.
How do I become a technical writer?
The job of a tech writer is to present complex information related to a product in clear and crisp language so that even a layman can understand more about the product clearly.
To become a good technical writer you must have the following skill sets:
- Common sense - Believe me, this is very important for a technical writer. As you have to juggle between multiple projects, keeping track of all projects, prioritizing, understanding the work and so on will become a herculean task if you don’t have this quality. I have seen people getting fired even though they had sound technical skills needed for a technical writer. This happened just because they were not having common sense and better judgement according to varying project scenario.
- English - Even though it may seem very obvious, English reading and writing (grammar, punctuation) skills are very much important here. But in practical, a tech writer has to use basic English as he/she has to cater to global audience. In some of the countries, audience won’t be well versed in English. Hence, it is very important that the document must be user friendly and easy to understand.
- Good reader - There is a saying “Good things in, good things out”. A good technical writer must always read all types of books (fiction/non-fiction) to cultivate the good things which he/she reads.
- Interviewing skills - Since a tech writer has to create content from scratch, he/she has to attend back-to-back meetings, interact with the Subject Matter Experts (SME) like designer, developer, QA, business analyst etc. The writer has to grasp all these vast info pouring in. Also, he/she has to ask right questions at the right time. Hence, the writer must have excellent grasping and interviewing skills.
- Technical Publication Standards - There are some international standards related to technical publication. To name a few - Microsoft Style guide for Technical Publication (MSTP), Simplified Technical English (STE), Document Development Life Cycle (DDLC) and so on. It is good to have an idea on all these.
- Tool knowledge: At last, but not the least, there are some tools specific to writing/illustration. My personal opinion is that, tool knowledge is not that important, as even a newcomer can learn these tools over a period of time. Nevertheless, the writer must have the tool knowledge to complete his task.
Hope this answer helps.
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