Online Class: ABCs of Technical Writing

Technical writing is the art and science of translating technical information into readable, accessible writing usable by a wide audience.

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Course Description

Demystifying Technical Writing: A Comprehensive Guide

In our technologically-driven world, the ability to convey complex concepts in a clear, concise, and accessible manner is invaluable. Have you ever grappled with assembling a piece of furniture, only to find relief in the user-friendly guide accompanying it? Or perhaps you've navigated a new software application with the aid of an intuitive online help system? These are tangible examples of technical writing, a discipline that bridges the gap between technical experts and the general public.

Course Overview:

Technical writing operates at the intersection of technology and communication. It's a discipline that involves crafting detailed, user-friendly content, whether it's for product manuals, online help systems, or instructional videos. As technology permeates every sector, from healthcare to finance, and from entertainment to agriculture, the demand for skilled technical writers has surged.

Whether you're a professional in a tech-centric industry, a writing enthusiast with a penchant for technology, or someone intrigued by the prospect of a career in technical writing, this course offers a comprehensive introduction to the multifaceted world of technical writing.

Course Highlights:

  1. What is Technical Writing? Delve into the core principles of technical writing, exploring its significance and wide-ranging applications.

  2. Projects for Technical Writers: A deep dive into the myriad projects that a technical writer might undertake, from creating user manuals to designing interactive tutorials.

  3. The Technical Writing Process: A step-by-step guide on structuring, drafting, and refining technical documents.

  4. How to Write Effectively: Techniques and strategies to ensure clarity, precision, and user-friendliness in your writing.

  5. Teaching an Alien to Drive: An engaging exercise that challenges you to explain a familiar concept to an unfamiliar audience, emphasizing the importance of perspective in technical writing.

  6. The First End User, You: The significance of self-review and experiencing the user's journey firsthand.

  7. Getting It Done: Discover how project management skills are integral to a technical writer's success.

  8. Words, Pictures, and Links: Explore the diverse formats in which technical content can be presented, from written documents to multimedia.

  9. Breaking into Technical Writing: Tips and guidance for those eager to launch a career in technical writing.

  10. The Tech Writer's Toolbox: A compilation of essential tools, software, and resources that can elevate the quality of your work.

  11. Staying in Touch: Emphasizing the importance of continuous learning and staying updated in this ever-evolving field.

Real-World Implications:

Consider the launch of a revolutionary health-monitoring app. While developers focus on coding and design, it's the technical writer's responsibility to ensure that users can seamlessly navigate the app, understand its features, and utilize it effectively. This might involve creating a detailed FAQ section, interactive video tutorials, or a comprehensive user guide.

Who is this Course For?

  • Industry Professionals: Enhance your ability to communicate intricate technical details to clients, stakeholders, and non-technical colleagues.

  • Aspiring Writers: Cultivate a specialized skill set that's in high demand across a spectrum of industries.

  • Career Changers: Looking for a dynamic, rewarding career? Delve into technical writing and discover a world where technology meets creativity.

In conclusion, as we progress further into a technology-dominated era, the role of a technical writer becomes increasingly central. This course promises not only to introduce you to the foundational concepts of technical writing but also to equip you with practical skills and insights that are immediately applicable in the real world. Dive in, and unravel the art and science of technical writing!

Course Motivation

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 that you've purchased, you've seen technical writing in action. Creating user manuals, help, 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 and understandable 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 skills set, getting training, and breaking into the field.


Technical Writer or Technical Communicator?

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 video blogs, 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.


Technical Writing, A Viable Career?

The U.S. Government Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook lists the median salary for technical writers at $58,000, with the middle 50% of workers earning between $45,000 and $74,000. As technology continues to advance, and becomes 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 2012 and 2022.
Clearly, technical writing can be a financially rewarding career. As technical communicators continue to find ways to increase their value to organizations by improving communications and facilitating the management of knowledge, their earning potential can increase as well. In addition, technical writing offers a challenging, rewarding workday. 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.
  • Completely Online
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  • 6 Months to Complete
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  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.3 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(1,899 votes)

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. 29 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete: Assignment - Lesson 1
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Assessment: Lesson 1: What is Technical Writing?

Lesson 2. Projects for Technical Writers

As we've discussed before, nearly every industry involves some technical writing, especially if we include marketing materials under the technical writing umbrella. Additional lesson topics: Are You Ready? 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Imagination Rules
  • Assessment: Lesson 2: Projects for Technical Writers

Lesson 3. The Technical Writing Process

Whether you're writing software manuals, online help, brochures, or scripting a video, the core goals of technical writing remain the same. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 3: The Technical Writing Process

Lesson 4. How to Write Effectively

At its core, good technical writing is simply good writing about technical topics. 50 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Complete: Assignment - Lesson 4
  • Assessment: Lesson 4: How to Write Effectively

Lesson 5. Teaching an Alien to Drive

The 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. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 5: Teaching an Alien to Drive

Lesson 6. The First End User, You

In 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. Additional lesson topics: Keeping Up With Technology 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Lesson discussions: What Type of Learner are You?
  • Assessment: Lesson 6: The First End User: You

Lesson 7. Getting It Done. Project Management and the Technical Writer

Technical 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. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 7: Getting It Done: Project Management and the Technical Writer

Lesson 8. Words, Pictures, and Links. The Growing Array of Deliverable Formats

As 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. Additional lesson topics: Adobe Technical Communication Suite 4 9 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Assessment: Lesson 8: Words, Pictures, and Links: The Growing Array of Deliverable Formats

Lesson 9. Breaking into Technical Writing

Is 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. 35 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete: Assignment - Lesson 9
  • Assessment: Lesson 9: Breaking into Technical Writing

Lesson 10. The Tech Writer's Toolbox

What tools do you need to succeed as a technical writer? Often, you need to know whatever tools your company chooses to use. 10 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Language Basics
  • Assessment: Lesson 10: The Tech Writer's Toolbox

Lesson 11. Staying in Touch

What 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. Additional lesson topics: Technical Writing Blogs 550 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Lesson discussions: How would you rate this course?; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Assessment: Lesson 11: Staying in Touch
  • Assessment: Technical Writing - Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

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.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
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Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: ABCs of Technical Writing
Course Number: 7550201
Lessons Rating: 4.3 / 5 Stars (1,899 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas.
Last Updated: December 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 0.9 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "Great course and nice instruction." -- David M.
  • "The lessons were very clear and helpful." -- Julianna Z.
  • "The instructor was so helpful." -- Anchal N.
  • "I really enjoyed working with the instructor. I found the writing assignments most helpful. Practicing specific writing skills is the best way to learn technical writing." -- Paul S.
  • "Excellent!" -- Jeannine S.
  • "It was a good overview, which is exactly what I was looking for. I enjoyed your classes. Thank you." -- Beth B.
  • "Everything was great." -- Nancy M.

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