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10 Useful Tips To Successful Technical Writing

drprime01 profile image DrPrime01 ・7 min read

Introduction

Besides being a good developer, your prowess in coding is well exhibited in your ability to relate and make easy technologies and frameworks you come across in your path as a programmer, in technical articles. Not only that, but you are also able to teach newbies and improve experts alike, and most importantly, yourself, the difficulties in a language and how you were able to overcome them using certain technologies and frameworks.
In this article, I take you on a 10-runged ladder on how you can become a successful technical writer.

Headlines that scream, "Read On!"

No matter how interesting or educative the content of your article might be, if you've got a poor headline, no reader will be prompted to see what is within.
The headline can be likened to the wrapper of a Christmas present, the beauty of the wrapper will create an impression of beautiful content in the receiver's mind, even before checking, but an ugly wrapper on the other side will create an ugly content impression.
As a technical writer, you have to be choosy in your choice of headline for your article. Headlines that will convince and urge the readers to read the content.
The headline should be given to the article after the content has been completed, because, the content will determine and must correspond to the headline given.
Your headline should not give an appetizing pizza impression and upon consumption give a whack taste, that is, you should not give your article a headline that does not provide what it is stating in the content of the article, this will only make readers filter off any newly produced article.
Your headlines should speak, "Continue Reading!"

Learn and stick to a Particular Technology or Framework

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Be it a frontend, backend, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, or any software developer, the credit of getting used to a particular technology or framework cannot be understated, most especially in technical writing. The audience you're writing for is to be taken as newbies or intermediates to any software you're writing on and explaining a language or technology you're not consistent with will make you look like a confused fellow.
It is more dangerous on the part of a newbie because they tend to practice any new skill they learn, and your inconsistency in explanation will turn out to make them bad at what they're doing, even to the point of giving up on a language, or at worse, programming.
Moreover, writing about a technology you're very familiar with and used to, will after trials, make readers come back to the article, to express profound gratitude, and even turn on the notification bell, expecting your next article, because they knew what they gained from the previous one and look forward to what they'll be getting in the latest release.
So you see why it is important for you to write, based on your experience of a familiar language or technology.
Just as it could be very helpful, when well done, it could also be dangerous if you're not fit for it.

Know the Tricks, Shortcuts, and Easy Method of Getting Problems Solved

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The audience expects to get a better and easier way to do something they have been struggling with for a long time. Introducing shortcuts and tricks can also make the readers realize that the time spent, wasted on writing long lines of code can be much reduced in writing a short line of code and still arriving at the same result.
Shortcuts, tricks, better ways should if not all, take the better part of your article because that Is what the readers want to see.

Keep It Clear, Simple, and Concise

You won't expect yourself to spend much time digesting a long and strenuous explanation when it can be expressed in simple terms, keeping the points intact. Just as it is uneasy for you to do this, imagine the uneasiness you could be making the readers pass through if you're guilty of this.
Writing long explanations can easily bore readers and make them skip to the next article. Only you haven't got an article on that topic!
Also, be sure to arrange your content in order of increasing urgency. From the introduction to the least important, linking up sequentially to the most important, and finally ending it with a conclusion; a short recap of what is expected of the readers to have learned.

Keep it simple, clear, and concise, these matter.

Be Unambiguous in Your Language Use

Imagine yourself reading a book, and having a dictionary opened before you at the same time to look up strange words and terms, it is demeaning! If there are simple words that could be used, use them. You are not writing to show your erudition in English, instead, your proficiency in code is what is needed.
There are lots of tools that could be of help, breaking down long vocabularies and retaining its meaning, for example, Grammarly. It has a free version that can be installed and used. It also corrects grammatical errors.
Moreover, it is advisable to stick to a particular person and tense to avoid getting both yourself and the reader confused.

Clearly Define Used Abbreviation, If Possible, Avoid it

In writing technical articles, it is very important to minimize your use of abbreviations. And whenever it is used, its meaning must be clearly stated close to it, and in reusing it, the full meaning must not be far from it, that is, the abbreviation and full meaning cannot be at the beginning of a page and be reused alone at the lower end of the page. The full meaning may be easily forgotten if not properly stated causing the reader to scroll up and down to remember.
To be on the safer side, it's better to do completely without it and use only the full meaning.

Stay Clear From Plagiarism!

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plagiarism is the act of reusing someone else's work and not citing properly the owner of the work or at all. This act has been known to bring down a lot of writers, once a writer has been discovered to be using someone else's work and not giving proper recognition to the real author, the writer and his work will lose esteem and that spells waterloo for the writer. One can also be fined for this if it's a copyrighted work.
Paraphrasing, which is the lifting and copying of another author's work, that is, restating and rearranging another author's work to make it look as if you wrote it, is also another aspect to be avoided as it has the same pitfall as plagiarism for any writer caught in the act.
As a technical writer, you are to avoid plagiarism and paraphrasing, whenever you quote another's work, cite the owner properly and where it was taken from. There are tools to use to avoid these traps which most writers tend to fall into, like Plagiarism Checker, an app that checks for copied works. Do well to use it.

Move On To Another Technology Or Framework, Loop Over, Become Better

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After you've become ground in a language or technology, you should move on to a new one, learn its basics, tricks, shortcuts, because it is what the readers expect from you, and easy methods. They always look up to a new trick each time they read your article and sooner or later your article will become a bore if it only offers a particular technology all the time. This won't be cool.
Moreover, doing this prompts readers to explore other languages and frameworks.
Although it is painstaking, going through another technology and learning its basics to make things simple for readers, but, trust me, it pays off. You advance your game in tech and readers get more knowledge from you. So get moving and step up your game.

Be Open To Criticism, Smears, and Correction

No matter how good your article might be, you are bound to get criticized by readers, some who may be better at it than you or others who are just in the habit of criticism. In the critiques, you learn a better way of doing it, some of which you don't know or might have skipped are revealed and you get better at it by taking to corrections.
Never get down because of critique and stop what you are doing, instead, learn from it, buckle down to it and become better.

Liven Your Articles

Reading whole long lines of text may soon become tiresome to readers and make them scroll down instead of perusing or at worse leave your article for another. Liven your articles with pictures and GIFs that relate to the subject matter. Pictures and GIFs serve as a soothing panacea to readers and a short break to calm them while reading for better comprehension.
Do not make your article a bore to readers, liven it. Moreover, don't get tempted to plaster the whole page with pictures and GIFs, they make the article look childish.
Liven your articles, be moderate.

Conclusion

In this article, you've learned how to impart the knowledge of tech to others via writing great technical articles in ten simple steps. A good follow-up of these steps will in no time help you ascend the apex of technical writing and probably, depending on your dexterity, land you a job.
Stay tuned for more articles from me.
Follow up on my Twitter account Dr Prime for more updates.
Don't forget to like, air your thoughts, and share with friends who need to see this.
Thanks For Reading!!!

Discussion (5)

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Collins

Learned something. Thank you!

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risoxas profile image
davidag93

Helped me a lot! thank you!

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drprime01 profile image
DrPrime01 Author

Grateful it did! You're welcome 🙂

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Dollar Dhingra

This was really helpful, thanks!

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drprime01 profile image
DrPrime01 Author

You're welcome😁