Technical writing has changed a lot over the years, and it’s no longer necessarily a specialized field, meaning there are some non tech writers or even non writers who may be taking on these projects. To make sure the content doesn’t suffer for it, we’ve outlined some tips that can help you better structure your tech documents.

While we may not be able to pinpoint the exact right way to write a technical document, these can certainly help improve it:

Outline your structure
Because not every type of technical document is the same, whatever project you’re working on will have different requirements than another piece of technical writing. This is why it’s important to take the time before your write to consider what you’ll be writing and what function it serves. That will give you a solid foundation to build a structure.

Having this outline handy while you write will help you keep the material organized and cohesive – two important ingredients in great technical writing. You can also reuse this outline in the future if you have to tackle similar topics or document types.

Determine your audience
The next step in structuring your piece is determining who you’re targeting with the writing. This information will guide much of how you structure and write this piece, which is why it’s necessary to think about it ahead of time. This means considering your audience’s supposed level of understanding of the subject and what new information you intend them to take away from the document.

“If your writing is dry, you will quickly lose your reader’s attention.”

Keep it interesting
Now that you’ve identified your audience, the most important part of writing a technical document is keeping them in mind. If your writing is dry, you will quickly lose your reader’s attention. Of course, that’s easier said than done when it comes to technical writing.

To help spice it up, don’t shy away from using exciting language or using creative analogies to explain your points. Your reader will appreciate having an interesting way to remember all this new information.

Depending on your audience, you will want to make sure the document speaks to them without pandering. Readers will be able to pick up on your tone, especially if you’re being condescending.

Ensure clarity
To keep your writing clear, form an organization strategy that can help readers identify where certain information will be located so they can refer back to the document when needed. You can do so through descriptive headings and bullet points, as Writing Assistance Inc. suggests. Having an outline will help you create these sections.

Maintain your message
Finally, you’ll need to keep your piece on message throughout. Technical writing exists to serve a distinct purpose, so the last thing you want to do is lose that in your writing. As Developer describes it, this document will be a “vehicle to another well-defined behavior.” Your writing will need to keep the reader on the right path to that action – straying away can defeat the whole point of the document.

That’s why it’s necessary to define this purpose ahead of time in your outline, so you can make sure you’re threading it throughout your writing. Additionally, you can reinforce these ideas in a well-formed conclusion. According to Writing Assistance Inc., the conclusion should be a comprehensive summary of all the points you made throughout the document so the reader can review these ideas and better retain them.