Technical Writing ToolBox

A Blog on Technical Writing

Category Archives: Writing Tips

7 causes of Inefficient Writing

Few weeks back I talked about three external factors that gives birth to inefficient documents.  Writers either have no or very less control over these factors. However, this is not always the case. In fact, usually a writer makes documents inefficient if they fail to remove common writing mistakes from their work. Let’s look at seven  factors that cause inefficient writing even when the content is technically accurate and the grammar is perfect:

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How to write a Technical Autobiography?

Technical Autobiography of Nikola Tesla

When I joined Seneca College (Post Grad) Certificate in Technical Communication, the first (informal) writing assignment we received was to write a technical autobiography (worth 10%) in the TCN700 (Technical Writing I) class.

Wait, I hear you saying that the term ‘technical’ and ‘autobiography’ don’t go well together. You are in good company as most of us in the class at that moment thought on similar lines. It was only when our dear professor explained the concept of technical autobiography when we understood how important it is for a writing student.

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Top 3 Serial Killers of a Good Document

Don’t kill me- says your document!

Whether you are writing a user’s guide, online help, or an installation guide, you always strive to convey a meaningful message to your intended audience.

However, the message often gets diluted and becomes meaningless due to a number of reasons. Of course, a writer may not put enough efforts in making a message meaningful but most of the time several external factors contribute in killing the effectiveness of a document. Let’s look at the top three factors that kill a good document:

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5 Free Online Tools for Distraction-Free Writing

Last week I talked about the importance of distraction free writing and suggested five free desktop tools for distraction free writing. However, some of us cannot install any software in a workplace computer due to the mighty-IT department restrictions or often work on shared computers. If you find yourself in either of these scenarios then you can use an online version of a distraction free software.

An online distraction free tool allows you to write without any distraction. There is no installation required and it can work with any modern browser. Let’s look at five such online distraction free tools:

Update (19 Feb 2014): A reader comment pointed out that QuiteWrite, LightWrite and Writer are inaccessible.

1. Koi-Writer

Online Accesshttp://www.koi-writer.com


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Pomodoro Technique: A Recipe for Increasing your Writing Productivity

Pomodoro technique is a time management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s and is quite effective in increasing work productivity. I’ve experimented with the Pomodoro technique and have received extremely positive results in increasing my own writing productivity.

What is the Pomodoro Technique?

Pomodoro technique

Image Credit: Luca Mascaro/Flickr

“Pomodoros” is an Italian term which means tomato. Pomodoro technique uses a timer to break down periods of work into 25-minute intervals called ‘Pomodoros’  separated by breaks.

The pomodoro technique is named after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that can be used to track your writing sessions.

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7 Useful Insights about How People Read Documentation

Reading is a primary form of communication for most people and they have different habits of reading. Not surprisingly, different people read product documentation in different ways. But how do they read and why should we care about their reading habits?

A writer writes with a purpose. This purpose gives shapes to their thoughts and allows them to convert their body-less thoughts to words. A strong correlation exists between a writer’s purpose and use of the document.

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Getting Rid of Misplaced Modifiers

Modifiers are words, phrases, or clauses that restricts or provide additional information about other words, phrases, or clauses. Modifiers can be adjectives or adverbs. Modifiers that appear before the head are called premodifiers and modifiers that appear after the head are called postmodifiers.

We have a certain amount of freedom in deciding where to place our modifiers in a sentence:

We rowed the boat vigorously.
We vigorously rowed the boat.
Vigorously we rowed the boat.

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Five Best Distraction-Free Writing Tools for your Desktop

As a person who makes his living by writing, I have to admit that writing is hard work. And what makes it even harder are the constant distractions in our workspace. I’m not talking about noisy children, complaining in-laws, and constantly barking neighbor’s dog (although they all distract!). I’m talking about the constant electronic distraction on our computer screen.

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What is Audience Analysis?

In order to publish an effective help documentation, you must gather as much information as you can about your audience. For most technical writers, audience analysis is the first, and perhaps the foundation step, in developing documentation for an end-user while following a documentation development life cycle (DDLC).

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Make your Sentences Slim (by removing 35 Wordy Phrases)

Photo Credit: OnBloggingWell.com

One of the easiest way to achieve conciseness in your writing is by removing wordy phrases. Wordy Phrases are long sentences that can be replaced by a single word (or few words) without changing the meaning of a sentence.
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