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Essential Skills for Technical Writers

Technical Writing for IT Staff

2-day course:

To see an online introduction to the course (with video, audio and slides) click on Online Introduction (On a new page of Internet Explorer 6 only).

To discuss your training needs contact Chelverton House

Documentation Development

Throughout the life of the data processing industry there has been an important group of ‘backroom’ experts dedicated to technical writing. To some extent the title has dictated the role and many writers documented the complexities of hardware and software systems in the same terms as their technical colleagues. However, with the increasing demand for ‘user friendly' systems, particularly with the development of PC systems, there is a great demand for ‘user friendly’ documentation.

This course teaches essential skills concerning the special communication responsibilities of the technical writer, document planning and quality management.

Exercises, workshops and discussions ensure that the ideas are fully understood and practised by delegates throughout the course.

Intended for

This course is intended for:

  • Those who are not called technical writers but who are or have been involved during the past year in the development of documentation for Systems and Procedures
  • Technical writers who will be involved in the coming months in the development of documentation for Systems and Procedures.


The objective of the course is to provide a firm foundation in the management, personal and technical skills integral to the activity of documentation development.

Skills and knowledge gained

On completion of this course the delegate will be able to:

  • Identify the needs of the target audience and select the appropriate media, format and style for the document
  • Appreciate the importance of using standards
  • Design and structure a document for easy access
  • Write procedural steps
  • Communicate effectively with technical specialists and team members
  • List the main activities involved in planning and executing interviews and meetings
  • Monitor and control the quality of documentation.



  • Welcome and introduction
  • Roles and objectives of the delegates
  • Structure and style of the course
  • Types of documentation
  • What is technical writing?

Document Planning & Development

  • Why plan? How much planning? The systems development life cycle; the documentation life cycle
  • Getting started and what to do; objectives, media and format
  • Software in use and techniques to support the navigation and searching of documents.

Writing Skills

  • Spelling, Plurals & Word Choice, Grammar, Punctuation, Abbreviations
  • Tone, Rhetoric, Styles, Accessibility,
  • Structure and Indexing; Standards,
  • Using software tools - Word, Acrobat, Online

Communication Skills

  • Interviewing skills - what they are for and setting them up; getting started; questioning techniques and getting ‘blood from a stone’; difficulties and overcoming them
  • Meetings - why have them, processes and chairmanship, management styles

Quality Management

  • Defining quality and how to achieve it
  • The QA (Quality Assurance) check list
  • Planning and developing review procedures
  • Editing techniques and procedures; issues relevant to the target audience

Case studies and exercises

Throughout the course there are realistic exercises and examples which use progressively the methods and techniques taught during the course; for the most part these are completed in small syndicate working groups but there are some to be completed individually both during and after the course. Exercises include:

  • Rewriting a section of text in plain, international, business English
  • Writing a procedure
  • Practice interview / meeting
  • Document review (Each delegate should bring a document on which he / she is working).