Skills for Tech Writer

As in any other profession, to become an effective technical writer one needs to acquire certain type of skills. When technical writing came into being, it required mostly the writing skills as huge manuals or guides were a standard. Ever since the fields of technology and communications have grown, so also the skills required for these professions. Below mentioned are some of the skills required by a technical writer:

  • Technical skills– A technical writer should know the technology used for a technical process, service or product which needs to be documented. Hardware and software specifications are different and so are pharmaceuticals or defense specifications differ that the technical writer needs to develop. When a technical writer discusses with the SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) for details he should have the field and technology specific knowledge so as to understand the information and later produce it in the document.
  • Tools skills– A technical writer needs to know various software tools, since they have to develop documents in different types of layouts. Specific tools, like Adobe FrameMaker, RoboHelp, MS Word, Snagit, Captivate etc. or some other tools the company depends on so as to produce its technical documents. Technical writers are generally comfortable learning new tools quickly and proficiently.
  • Writing skills– It is very important for a technical writer to have finesse for writing. This can never be ignored, as the technical writer should be able to document softwares, technical processes etc. in a very clear, crisp and error free manner.
  • Analytical skills – A technical writer should possess the ability to examine the information available and be able to make documents based on the information.
  • Interpersonal and Communication skills – The ability to gather knowledge or information to prepare documents is very important for a technical writer. Generally SMEs are very busy people so they might not be able to give you enough time to gather all the information. This is where your interpersonal skills come into play to collect as much information as possible in a short span of time.
  • Design skills– Technical writers cannot underestimate the usage of graphics to convey their ideas in a document. Also formatting of the documents is very important. Your audience will be able to understand better with if you are able to communicate your thought visually.
  • Testing skills– A technical writer may be required to actively participate in the testing the technical processes etc. Even if they don’t do it, they very well understand that justification of the documentation is required, for the authentication of the documents.

Conclusion
The above mentioned skills for a technical writer are very few, as organization specific needs may vary greatly. Also the skills vary widely as depending on the education background of the technical writer and his experience.