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Master the Art of Technical Writing
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Technical writing is the art and science of translating technical information into readable, accessible writing usable by a wide audience. If you have ever read the user's manual for a piece of software or equipment you've purchased, you've seen technical writing in action. Creating manuals, help and technical support systems, online help systems, and instruction manuals are some of the main projects technical writers take on. Since nearly every business in every industry imaginable has at least an occasional need to bring technical information to its users and customers, technical writing is found in nearly every business, government agency, and non-profit organization.
If you work in a high tech industry, technical writing may be a part of your job description and daily duties. If you love to write, enjoy learning, and have an interest in technology, technical writing can be an exciting, rewarding career in itself. Job opportunities in the field are expected to grow as technology continues to advance.
Whether you are called upon to communicate technical information to clients and coworkers, or you are thinking of technical writing as a new and interesting career, this course is designed to help you get started. We'll talk more about the kinds of products technical writers get involved in, and discuss the kinds of skills that successful technical writing requires. We'll talk about ways to approach and organize a technical writing project, and look at the kinds of materials technical writers produce, from written manuals to video tutorials. For those looking at technical writing as a new career, we'll discuss ways of improving your skill set, getting training, making contacts, and breaking into the field.
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Like many terms, "technical writing" is defined in different ways, but most definitions tend to agree on one central principle. Technical writing is the art and science of translating technical information generated by subject matter experts into readable, accessible information usable by a wider audience. If you have ever read the user's manual for a piece of software or equipment you've purchased, you've seen technical writing in action. Creating user manuals, help and technical support documents, online help systems, and instruction manuals are some of the main projects technical writers take on. Since nearly every business in every industry imaginable has at least an occasional need to bring technical information to its users and customers, technical writing is found in nearly every business, governmental, and non-profit arena.
Who does technical writing? Depending on a company's size and needs, it may hire one or more full time technical writing specialists, or it may occasionally hire contract writers or outsource writing needs to freelance writers or agencies. In other cases, engineers, developers, project managers, and others involved in the creation of a product will be called upon to create user documentation and training materials for the product they are developing. If the term "technical writing" is defined a bit more broadly, it can include marketing and public relations materials, brochures, sales letters, and trade articles. Indeed, in any situation where a complex product, service, or feature must be explained in simple terms, technical writing skills will come into play.
Some of the fields in which technical writing is commonly needed include the computer and software industries, the consumer and industrial electronics industries, the medical and healthcare fields, and any other area where technical information needs to be disseminated in a readable form. In the United States and other developed countries, where "knowledge industries," whose primary products are information-based, companies are faced with the task of organizing and maintaining vast knowledge banks and databases. Companies like Google, for instance, do not produce products but instead package information in useful, usable forms. New content management systems and "knowledge management" systems are being designed to help companies manage their informational assets. In many cases, technical writers are moving into these roles as well.
Technical writing, then, can be a career, or just a part of your job description. Whether you are called upon to communicate technical information to clients and coworkers, or you are thinking of technical writing as a new and interesting career, this course is designed to help you get started. We'll talk more about the kinds of products technical writers get involved in, and discuss the kinds of skills that successful technical writing requires. We'll talk about ways to approach and organize a technical writing project, and look at the kinds of materials technical writers produce, from written manuals to video tutorials. If you love to write and are looking at technical writing as a viable career, we'll discuss ways of improving your skill set, getting training, and breaking into the field.
More and more, technical writers don't just write. As documentation and training materials become more interactive and audiovisual media more transferable over the World Wide Web, a wide variety of materials, from video tutorials to podcasts, screencasts to videoblogs, some say the term "technical writer" is outdated. Many practitioners in the field prefer the term "technical communicator," which allows for the many other modes of communication besides writing that are available. In many ways, the term "technical communicator" speaks to the heart of the technical writer's job: communicating technical information successfully to less technical audiences. Still, some people prefer to be called technical writers, or just "tech" writers, as the term "technical communicator" is somewhat vague and a bit of a mouthful. For purposes of this course, we'll use the two terms interchangeably, remembering that a technical writer can often do a lot more than simply write.
The U.S. Government Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook lists the median salary for technical writers at $58,050, with the middle 50% of workers earning between $45,130 and $73,750 in May of 2006.
As technology continues to advance, and to become involved more and more with our daily lives, the need for skilled technical communicators is expected to increase. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of jobs will grow 20% between 2006 and 2016.
Clearly, technical writing can be a financially rewarding career. As technical communicators continue to find ways to increase their value to organizations by improving communication and facilitating the management of knowledge, their earning potential can increase as well. In addition, technical writing offers a challenging, rewarding work day. Technical writers don't just write. They interview experts, collaborate with designers and production staff, participate in product testing and development, and manage large projects. As we progress through this course, we'll examine these different roles in detail.
By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
- Identify what technical writing is.
- Identify the types of projects that require technical writers.
- Summarize the technical writing process.
- Write technical materials more effectively.
- Write with the end-user in mind, and not the product owner.
- Demonstrate time management skills to complete a project.
- Evaluate your technical writing.
- Identify the best resources for finding technical writing projects, and
- Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.
Lesson 1. What is Technical Writing?Technical writing is the art and science of translating technical information generated by subject matter experts into readable, accessible information usable by a wider audience.
Lesson 2. Projects for Technical WritersAs we've discussed before, nearly every industry involves some technical writing, especially if we include marketing materials under the technical writing umbrella.
Lesson 3. The Technical Writing ProcessWhether you're writing software manuals, online help, brochures, or scripting a video, the core goals of technical writing remain the same.
Lesson 4. How to Write EffectivelyAt its core, good technical writing is simply good writing about technical topics.
Lesson 5. Teaching an Alien to DriveThe challenge in delivering usable information is in knowing what level of detail and complexity is appropriate, and what elements of a given process you can assume that your reader knows and which ones you'll have to explain.
Lesson 6. The First End User, YouIn this lesson, we'll look at this part of the process in greater detail, and we'll see how the technical writer can add value to the company's product by evaluating its usability as it is being developed.
Lesson 7. Getting It Done. Project Management and the Technical WriterTechnical writers often need to manage more than one large project at a time. Developing good project management skills is as important (or more so) than good writing skills.
Lesson 8. Words, Pictures, and Links. The Growing Array of Deliverable FormatsAs we've seen in earlier lessons, a technical writer's output is not just written manuals anymore. Let's look further at the types of deliverables you as a technical writer could be called upon to produce.
Lesson 9. Breaking into Technical WritingIs a career in technical writing for you? By now we've talked enough about the kind of work that you'd be doing to give you a sense of whether it is the kind of work you might enjoy.
Lesson 10. The Tech Writer's ToolboxWhat tools do you need to succeed as a technical writer? Often, you need to know whatever tools your company chooses to use.
Lesson 11. Staying in TouchWhat is the future of technical writing? The answer is interactivity. The phenomenon of Web 2.0 has converted Web surfers into Web content providers. People don't just browse the web anymore, they get involved.
|Course Title ||: ||ABCs of Technical Writing |
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Course Adheres to the ANSI/IACET 1-2007 Standard
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|Languages ||: ||English - United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and other English speaking countries |
|Course Number ||: ||7550201 |
|Course Type ||: ||Professional Development |
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|Syllabus ||: || |
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Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive a CEU Certificate documenting CEUs earned
|Assessment Method ||: || |
Lesson assignments and review exams
|Duration ||: ||Continuous: Enroll anytime! |
|Requirements ||: ||View Technical Requirements |
|Course Fee ||: || |
Basic Course: $40.00 (no CEU Certificate)
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