Writing Great Technical Documents

Writing Great Technical Documents teaches you how to write more effective technical documents. In this course, you’ll learn how to write technical documents that meet your readers’ needs and get the results you want.

As a writer, my job is to teach you HOW to write effective documents, not just tell you what you need to do. In this course, you’ll learn the specifics of writing strategies that will give you the results you want. For example, in the lesson about writing paragraphs, you’ll learn 10 specific strategies you can use and when to use them to get the results you want. Here’s an example of what you’ll learn:

Paragraph Strategies

A paragraph consists of one or more sentences that deal with one point. Paragraphs begin on a new line, and the first line is often indented. If not, there should be a space between the bottom line of the previous paragraph and the first line of the next one.

You should arrange the sentences in your paragraphs so that your readers can understand the point you are trying to make. There are many ways that you can arrange sentences within your paragraphs. Because different paragraphs have different purposes, you will arrange your sentences differently. When deciding how to arrange your sentences, you need to use the best strategy for your purposes and your audience.

Let’s review some common strategies that you can use to develop your paragraphs.

Move from General to Specific

You can arrange your sentences so that information flows from the general to the specific. Your first sentence contains the overall, general thought of the paragraph, and the following sentences support and illustrate that sentence. Writers often use this paragraph structure in technical documents. Here’s an example:

Arranging your sentences in a paragraph from the general thought to the specific enables readers to understand what the paragraph is about more quickly. This is a good paragraph strategy to use when you know your readers will skim your technical document. They can read your topic sentence and quickly determine if they need to read the rest of the paragraph.

Move from Specific to General

Start your paragraph with specifics and move to the general thought if you think you need to prepare your readers for an idea. For example:

This type of paragraph grabs readers’ attention from the first sentence. The details engage them, allowing you to make a larger impact with the conclusions you’ve reached based on those details. Use the type of paragraph when you need to persuade your readers that your points are valid.

Ask a Question

Placing a question at the beginning of a paragraph is a good way to make a transition from the preceding paragraph. It’s also an effective way to get your readers’ attention. When readers answer the question you’ve asked, they become more engaged in what you’re writing. Here’s the paragraph above written using the question-to-answer paragraph structure:

Try using this paragraph strategy to “wake up” your readers – especially after dense, dry paragraphs.

Enumerate Points

Enumeration paragraphs state the supporting points as first, second, third or a variation of this. Use this method when you want to emphasize each supporting point. By numbering each point, as in the following example, you are impressing upon your readers each point individually and all of them as a whole. After reading your paragraph, the reader will remember how many specific points there were and therefore be able to remember each one more clearly.

In some cases, you can use these individual points to start the paragraphs that follow if more detail is required.

If you have questions or want to see more examples, please let me know!


Course Cost

$285.00 for 12 lessons, critiques of at least two documents you’ve written, tests, certificate of completion, and personal instruction. New sessions start the second Monday of each month.

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