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Best Tools and Resources for Technical Writers

 

In the writing industry, technical writers may have the most complex job of all. It is their job to explain to everyday users how to use and/or understand things of a technical or complex nature. Essentially, they must find a professional but efficient way to convey instructions or provide guidelines in a way that others can easily grasp. This can include articles, handbooks, manuals, guides, instructional videos, and more. While a clear understanding of what you’re trying to educate others on is a no-brainer, having the right tools can make your job a lot easier. 

 

Authoring Tools

One of the first things a technical writer will need is an authoring tool. This is the digital platform in which they are going to draft all of their materials. Advanced authoring tools have drafting and editing features that enhance and perfect the writer’s work. One of the oldest yet still popular platforms used to date is Microsoft Word. Here, writers can draft content and make edits. Newer and more convenient options like Google Docs, however, are cloud-based and can be used remotely from anywhere and to collaborate and share with others.  

 

Image Editing Tools

Technical writers often incorporate screenshots and images in their materials to help further drive home their points and/or to provide visual examples to their readers. These images can be pulled from a number of sources, yet, they’re often not ready for use. Images often need to be edited to fit the page (physical or digital). Image editing tools allow writers to change the size, shape, font, color, or position of an image within the content. Adobe Photoshop ranks at the top of image editing tools for technical writers to use. 

 

Publishing Software

After completing a final draft of your content it must be published on various platforms for the necessary parties to have access to. This can include in print, an eBook, through a mobile application, on a website, or through an online course. MadCap Software is one of the popular technical writing tools used for this purpose. You can easily publish your content in various formats to reach your target audience. With features that allow you to write, edit, collaborate, receive feedback, and publish technical content, it is a one-stop-shop tool that can be used to streamline processes and enhance writing materials. 

 

Spell Check and Grammar Check Tools

Though many authoring tools have spell and grammar check features already, to ensure your writing is efficient, having a more advanced tool is highly recommended. A very popular tool used by technical writers today is Grammarly. Great for word processing software and online applications, Grammarly automatically scans your writing from grammatical errors and misspellings. It provides simple replacement options to improve your message. 

 

Translation Tools

Depending on the type of technical materials you write, it may need to be translated into more than one language for a diverse set of users. For instance, an employee training manual may need to be written in English and in Spanish. Unless you’re fluent in Spanish, you’ll need translation software to create Spanish content. You need to ensure that the tool you use will translate the content on various platforms (on and offline) accurately without taking away the meaning of your messages. 

 

Video Tools

Many technical writers also create videos to go along with their content to further help with reader comprehension and to engage their target audience. Though novice writers might use their smartphones, advanced technical writers rely on cameras, as well as video making and editing software to create vlogs, how-to guides, and other visual content for their audience. Some of the most popular include Camtasia and Adobe Premiere. 

 

Being able to successfully break down a complicated topic or product into words that anyone can understand isn’t easy. It not only takes a wealth of understanding on what you’re writing about but a plethora of steps to put together materials for intended readers. From drafting and editing content to uploading videos and publishing, technical writers must go through a series of tasks to complete their jobs. Utilizing technical writing tools such as those described above, however, can streamline processes making it a lot easier to accomplish.

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