ClickHelp Technical Writing Blog
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How to Write Technical Style Guides

Posted by
Anastasia in Education on 1/29/20193 min read

A man writing

We all can agree that content should be the primary focus of a technical writer. But, we also can’t just leave out other aspects of creating technical documentation. This is why we would like to focus on styling and formatting of your users docs in our article.

Color Scheme

A picture of different colors

While printed technical docs tend to be black and white (because, well, the production is much cheaper), online user manuals can take advantage of various color schemes. How to pick a color scheme for your docs? We made a nice guest blog post about that a while ago. To sum it up, here’s how you can go about it:

  • Use a ready documentation template. They often come in a bundle with a help authoring tool. This sure does restrict the choice, but can be really beneficial otherwise - if you take ClickHelp as an example, all our documentation templates are designed by professionals, plus, they can be modified.
  • Pick your corporate color scheme. Another easy way to solve this dilemma. You can never go wrong with using your corporate style. And, this will positively affect brand visibility on the web.
  • Create a new color scheme from scratch. This is for those of you who would like to try something new. This task might sound overwhelming, but it is not. Web design has its own guidelines and rules to follow. The blog post we’ve mentioned earlier breaks down in very simple words how to pick colors using a color wheel so that your technical documentation will look bedazzling!

Page Layout

All the info concerning a page layout is usually stored in a corporate style guide, things like margins, columns, orientation, page size...These details are quite noticeable, so always be mindful of that and make sure your docs look similar. You can include such info in a documentation plan that all team members have access to, as well.

Font

Choosing a font, what can be easier? To be fair, this is certainly not the most crucial part of help authoring, but you can really spoil the impression if you pick the wrong font. There’s this thing called a font mood. What it means is that fonts can be roughly divided into several categories depending on the occasion they fit. There are fonts for children, fonts for official documents, fonts for holidays like Halloween, etc. They all evoke certain feelings and associations in readers.

In a general case, in technical writing, official fonts with high readability will do. Also, consider adapting your user manuals for people with dyslexia and for the visually impaired. Fonts play a very important role in these people’s lives.

Mobile Versions

Man and woman are talking in a cafe

Mobile views of technical documentation are growing and why wouldn’t they with mobile traffic slowly but steadily taking over the Internet. How this will affect your online documentation portal depends on the help authoring tools you are using. For your documentation to look good on a mobile screen, it needs to be adapted along with all screenshots, tables, videos. Modern browsers are able to adapt web pages for different screens, but, in case of documentation, this task can get complicated due to content. So, in order for your mobile versions of user manuals to be dialed in (no pun intended :)), the ClickHelp team created a mechanism that allows your readers to view user manuals from their mobile devices. And, the manuals look good as ever. Soon, mobile traffic will be dominating all over the Internet, and, having an online documentation tool that can easily adapt all your docs for mobile devices means to be fully prepared for the change.

Conclusion

These are the main points you should pay attention to as far as styling and formatting are concerned. Following these guidelines will help you enhance reader experience greatly. Just grab your quality content and add a pretty cover to it - mix, don’t blend.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

 

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