Plain Words – the Documentation and Training People
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Writing Technical Guides & Handbooks – technical documentation course
This technical documentation course has been designed to build on the skills of Developers, Engineers, Designers, budding Technical Authors who write technical guides or handbooks.
If your job involves writing any of these…
|Technical specifications||Software code documentation|
|Reference material||API documentation|
|User documentation||Instructions for how a product or service operates|
|Reference material||Installation documents|
|Tutorials||Lengthy procedures or processes|
…this course is for you.
It concentrates on the principles and processes involved in communicating technical information effectively, whether to the layman or the expert.
Writing technical documentation well is a difficult task, and one that many people just have to learn on the job. Technical writing training can help you to produce better documents faster, rather than wasting time learning by trial and error.
What you will learn on this technical documentation course
By the end of the course, you will know how to:
- Produce a documentation plan, including estimates and schedules
- Design and structure a document by analysing the readership and selecting the right information
- Write clearly and in the correct style for your readers
- Help readers find information by using appropriate ‘signposting’
- Use layout, typography and illustrations to help get your message across
- Check your own drafts
- Get the best out of writing tools and templates
What our customers say
“I enjoyed the course as a refresher, the 2-day structure is a good design for consolidating information. The trainer had a good speaking style and there were some great tools employed – e.g. Designing a document to explain to an alien how to use a spiral staircase, and the traffic light scoring card.”
SN – in4tek Ltd
“Nice and informal – paced well – good training notes and a good trainer. Has helped reinforce the work I have been doing, and given me new ideas to try.”
SW – Sage UK Ltd
“Very enjoyable course that was run at a nice steady speed with lots of opportunity to discuss the material.”
RS – Sage UK Ltd
How we deliver the technical documentation course
It is available as :
- A one-day intensive course. It concentrates on showing you, step-by-step, the process of designing and writing technical documents. Exercises are used to illustrate various points throughout the day.
- A two-day workshop. Delegates practise technical writing skills, learning through group discussion, exercises and working on real examples of documents you bring to the workshop.
Private courses (at your premises or online virtual classrooms)
We adopt a flexible approach so that even our standard courses are tailored to your needs. Our trainers are all professional writers as well as experienced trainers. They use their judgment on the day to adjust the content and pace of the course so that delegates get the training that is right for them. This is done by:
- Discussing your requirements with you before the course
- Assessing the pre-course questionnaires
- Discussing with the delegates at the start of the course their objectives and outcomes
- Checking throughout the day that objectives are being met.
We can also further adapt the course by:
1. Basic principles
- A quick overview of the documentation process
- Understanding the purpose of technical documents
- Appreciating the benefits of good documentation for your product, customers and company
- The most common technical writing mistakes
When you book we send you a questionnaire which we ask you to return to us before you attend the course. This enables our Trainers to assess your needs in advance.
- Standards and guidelines – knowing where to look for guidance
- Making assumptions when the product is incomplete
- Physical presentation and its implications, eg printed or on-line
- Deciding how the documents will be developed, produced and updated
- Things to consider when estimating timescales and costs
- Preparing and maintaining schedules – synchronising documentation and development
- Writing the documentation plan – what should it include?
3. The right document for your reader
- Clarifying your purpose – how to set a clear objective
- Analysing your audience – knowing your audience; questions to ask yourself; dealing with a mixed audience
- Selecting your information – sources of data; gathering information; deciding what to include
- Organising your information so it flows – a look at the options for sequencing
- Designing your structure – techniques to help you; basic structures and alternative structures; what to include in different types of documents
- Producing a ‘skeleton’ or detailed outline – and the benefits of taking this approach
- Gaining approval – knowing the right time to do so can save you a lot of work
4. Technical writing techniques
- How to make your writing clear, unambiguous and easy to understand
- Writing for an international audience
5. Supporting content with layout and illustrations
- Choosing an appropriate layout for the type of user and how the document will be used
- Navigational aids – contents lists, indexes and ‘signposting’
- Crafting headings to guide your readers through the document
- When and where to use illustrations
6. Choosing the right writing style
- Choosing the correct writing style for different types of document
- Tutorials and installation documents – presenting concepts, instructions, lists
- Quick reference guides – what should you include?
- Comprehensive reference guides – correct order, cross-referencing
- User guides – task-oriented, indexed
- Procedures – what are the essentials?
- Functional specifications meet different needs for development, marketing, users
7. Putting it all together
- Drafting – the mindset to avoid writer’s block
- Checking your own work – how to see what’s really there, not what you think is there
- Giving and receiving constructive feedback - what makes a review effective?
- Subsequent drafts – just how many drafts should you go through? And how do you track them?
- Validation – getting it all signed off
- Preparing the ‘master’ – a checklist for peace of mind
- Updating techniques – including updating others’ documents
Want Something a Little Different?
Give us a call today and we will tailor a course to suit you!
8. Tools to help you
- Using templates to create a consistent layout
- Getting the most out of spelling and grammar checkers
- Style guides and other sources of information to save you re-inventing the wheel
- Hiding the metadata in Word™ documents
- Handling version control of the documents
You can book a private course, call us on +44 (0)1235 60 30 22 or email .
Plain Words Ltd
The Documentation &
tel 01235 60 30 22
Keep your business writing current, clear and concise
All our courses are available as online remote training sessions