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Unconventional Skills of Technical Writers

Posted by
Anastasia in Self-Development on 12/7/20183 min read

Woman drawing scheme in notebook

When people hear about technical writing they tend to put too much emphasis on the ‘writing’ part, which is understandable. Yes, tech writers do create a lot of written content, but in reality, their responsibilities and skills stretch far beyond that. Sometimes, in quite unexpected ways.

The Most Important Skill You Can Forget About

What about writing skills? How perfect do technical writers need their essays to be in high school? And, what about the poetry they wrote when they were younger? Well, you can just forget about it.

Help authoring is hardly a creative process. Yes, language proficiency is required, but the ability to express thoughts clearly and concisely is valued far more than metaphors or similes.

woman sitting in front of a typewriter

Besides, there is a trend according to which technical skills are starting to prevail in help authoring. So, let’s leave the beauty of a written text to professional writers. Technical writers are moving in a different direction. Even grammar seems to be taken care of by AI-based tools.

The Unconventional Technical Writing Skills

Help authoring is quite a peculiar sphere. It is known to interlapse with so many other professional fields that a lot of technical writers acquire additional skills not typical for technical writing but needed in their particular use case.

Design and 3D Modelling

This skill set can include anything from creating 3D models to the knowledge of HTML and CSS.

Most user manuals include images/screenshots/graphs/3D models, etc. This helps readers understand and interpret content faster. For a technical writer, this means that they need to be able to interact with graphics editing tools at least at the beginner level.

As easy of a task as taking screenshots may seem, poorly taken screenshots will do more harm than good. If you are interested in learning more on this topic, check out our post on how to take screenshots right.

As for CSS and HTML, styles are often used to customize a user manual’s look and feel. So, tech writers can be partly involved in web design, too.

Programming Skills

Presence of tech writing teams in IT is very strong. So, not surprisingly, programming skills become more and more required of tech comm specialists.

code example

IT documentation contains code examples and references programming concepts a lot. So, ideally, technical writers should be able to create short code examples without any help from the outside. Plus, the lack of technical knowledge complicates interaction with subject-matter experts who are a great source of valuable information.

SEO and Marketing

Every part of a product users interact with should be thought through. Creating online user manuals while underestimating their SEO potential is a waste of resources and money.

Many (ClickHelp included) online documentation tools are created with the idea of you using technical documentation for marketing purposes.

All your help topics get indexed which gives you additional visibility on the web. Plus, you can take advantage of many branding options to support your brand with technical documentation, too.

Conclusion

There are so many unexpected technical writing skills yet to mention! Like technical writers in the medical field often have a degree in medicine. If a certain field appeals to you, it is great to have matching skills, of course. But entry- level jobs can be quite forgiving, so, you can acquire new skills along the way.

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

 

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