Technical Writing Best Practices
Located in Atlanta, ProEdit provides technical writing services throughout the U.S. and abroad. ProEdit’s technical writing services reflect the industry’s best practices. Here are some of the best practices we employ:
- Analyze the audience. David A. McMurrey, professor and technical writer, considers the audience “the most important consideration in planning, writing, and reviewing a document.”1 To write effective documentation that suits the users, we must understand their needs. In other words, ProEdit doesn’t create a 300-page manual when a quick reference guide will do.
- Write reader-friendly documentation. Technical writing is full of complex information. ProEdit writes documentation to your audience’s readability level. Many methods exist to test readability, including the Gunning’s Fog Index and the SMOG Index. Microsoft Word also includes a Flesch-Kincaid readability tool to check the readability of a document.
- Use active voice. It is commonly held that passive voice is acceptable in scientific and technical writing. However, overuse of passive voice, or use of passive voice in long and complicated sentences, can cause readers to lose interest or to become confused.2 ProEdit uses active voice to ensure that your readers and users clearly understand your documentation.
- Use advance organizers. In technical writing, an advance organizer (also called a “jump list”) is a bulleted list at the beginning of a chapter that provides an overview of the chapter. David Ausubel, a psychologist who developed advance organizers, states in his Subsumption Theory, “The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows.”3 Advance organizers help users process and retain information based on what they already know.
Learn more about the technical writing industry’s best practices.