How do you improve your technical writing skills?

Subject: How do you improve your technical writing skills?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2002 11:24:23 -0400

eshwar vg wonders: <<How do you improve your technical writing skills?>>

I learn by reading textbooks and journal articles and asking myself a few
questions about what I read: How does this advice work? If it doesn't work,
why not? Then, when I begin writing, I start with the questions "what am I
trying to achieve in this section, and what's the best way to achieve that
goal?" I always send the results for review, and the best reviewer is
someone who will actually use the instructions. If they can't understand the
instructions and follow them successfully, ask them why (what
misunderstandings occurred), and make sure you understand the problem well
enough that you can avoid repeating it.

Having your work reviewed by a skilled editor can be an excellent learning
experience, particularly if the editor is willing to work with you on the
specific problems you're experiencing. The problem with editors (myself
included) is that we eventually become experts in a subject, and that makes
it hard to remember what it's like to be inexpert.

<<Are there any free tutorials available on the internet?>>

The techwr-l archives are a great source of advice, and if you can't find
what you're looking for there, send your questions to techwr-l instead.
Someone can certainly help.

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada
"User's advocate" online monthly at
"By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is
noblest; second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third, by experience,
which is the bitterest."--Confucius, philosopher and teacher (c. 551-478

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