One of the most important questions to ask yourself when you're working on a piece of technical writing is whether you understand what you are trying to say. As a technical writer, you'll be expected to take highly complex and sometimes confusing topics and present them in a way that they will be easily understood by your audience. If you don't understand your own writing, you can be sure that your audience probably won't either. Here are a few tips to ensure you stay on track:
Review your writing as you work: You should review your work periodically during the writing process to ensure you understand it. If you get to a sentence that seems somewhat confusing, try to explain the meaning of the statement to yourself. You can also try to state the information in another way. If you can't do either of these, it's a clear sign you don't understand what you are trying to say, which means the sentence or section needs a second look.
Do further research if necessary: Many clients will provide you with some research and information, but it may be just a basic starting point. If you don't understand what you are writing, it's a clear sign that you likely have to make some efforts to learn more about the topic. Spend some time researching it on the Internet, contact the SME again, or speak with professionals in the industry until you feel you have a firm grasp of your topic.
Resist the urge to assume the reader will know what you are trying to convey: While you're proofreading, you come across a sentence that you find somewhat confusing. "Oh well," you think to yourself, "this is being written for industry professionals. They'll know what I'm trying to say." This is an assumption that you shouldn't make, and one that may lead you to turn in a poorly-written document. Regardless of who you are writing for, you should have a clear understanding of the topic and, more importantly, your own writing.
Last Updated: 05/05/2014