Every technical writer strives to make their work clear, concise, and accessible. When we talk about writing for an international audience, we’re not just making sure words translate—we’re also talking about writing for different cultures, experiences, and contexts. Here are a few tips to help you create tech writing standards that work for all your users around the world.
Identify Your Audience
Identifying your audience is critical to writing good documentation. Who are you writing for? What do they need to know, and why? How formal or informal should the writing style be? These questions will inform all of your other decisions as you develop your documentation. If your company has a product used internationally, talk with engineers in different countries and ask them what kind of documentation they prefer when using technology products from other countries. What types of information would help them use this product more effectively?
Create a Style Guide
The next step is to create a style guide. Each written language has different needs and expectations, so you need to consider the audience when designing your style guides. In addition to writing in a way that’s consistent across all of your documents, make sure you include:
- A glossary of terms
- Consistent phrasing and formatting (for example, don’t mix up “the” or “a”)
- Easy-to-read text (short sentences and bullet points when possible)
It’s also vital to include resources before starting work on any document so that people have access to them while they’re writing. Consider including links throughout your document or references at the end.