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The technical writing process is essential to deliver accurate and clear information to large groups of people. While the stages of the technical writing process are similar to those of other writing projects, the technical demands of a technical writing project require a heightened awareness of presentation errors and style choices for the writer. The technical writing process takes these demands into consideration, organizing a project in stages designed to clearly organize writer responsibilities.
Preparation is the earliest stage in the technical writing process. During the preparation stage, a technical writer answers a series of questions regarding his project. These include considerations about the skill level of the audience, which determines the technical specificity of the final document, and the purpose of the piece, which explains the direction in which the writer will direct the project. The scope of the project considers the amount of material the project should cover, and the medium used to present the information considers the specific format used, such as the internet, a Power Point presentation or formal document.
The research stage is the phase in which the technical writer gathers information about the project. This includes interviewing people working on the project, reading technical information about the project and spending some hands-on time working with the new project, if this is possible. Technical writers can return to this stage multiple times, if their initial information is not sufficient to cover the necessary project information.
During the organization stage, a technical writer reviews all information gathered during the research phase, divides it into sections and creates a formal outline for the writing project. This includes dividing larger sections into a series of smaller sections, each clearly covering every necessary point. Technical writers divide the researched information throughout these sections, ensuring that every point has enough cited information to stand as an independent point, without repeating information in multiple sections.
Technical writers sketch out the first draft, often by writing each section separately and using the organized research for each section as they write. Draft writing, for technical projects, focuses on active language, specific word choices, a clear presentation style and concise information for busy readers. Technical writers use obvious section titles, dividing information clearly for readers.
Review and Revise
Once the technical writer finishes with the first draft, she enters the review and revise stage, where she reads the draft and makes necessary changes. The technical writer checks for spelling, word choice, punctuation, passive voice usage and typos in the original draft. After the changes are made, she returns to the review and revise stage until the document is clear, precise and accurate.
Kristyn Hammond has been teaching freshman college composition at the university level since 2010. She has experience teaching developmental writing, freshman composition, and freshman composition and research. She currently resides in Central Texas where she works for a small university in the Texas A&M system of schools.