Technical writing training covers a wide range of topics and depending on the industry, comes in many formats such as short reports, lab reports, specifications, manuals, proposals, technical articles, white papers, and abstracts. Different reader groups read the same documents; however, their level of understanding can vary greatly.
Our instructor includes several core modules and then works with you to design a technical writing seminar that meets your specific needs and objectives. Writing Technical Documents can be a one-day, two-day, or three-day course, depending on how many topics you wish to incorporate. Core modules cover the basics, review good technical writing skills, and encourage adopting standards and best practices. One of the objectives is to promote consistency and a uniform level of professionalism.
Answers provided by our technical writing trainer, Catherine S. Hibbard
Q: What exactly is technical writing?
A: Technical writing is writing that encompasses a wide range of fields such as manufacturing, aerospace, telecommunications, electronics, computers, software, pharmaceuticals, and information systems. The types of documents include reports, manuals, specifications, abstracts, white papers, proposals, and policies and procedures.
Q: How is technical writing different from regular business writing?
A: The main difference is the technical subject matter and the challenge of reaching multiple types of readers who have differing levels of knowledge about the subject. One document may have four distinct reader groups: executives, subject matter experts, technicians, and general readers. Crafting documents that meet each reader group's needs is challenging—but attainable by using specific strategies.
Q: Why do you customize each technical writing seminar?
A: I believe that participants want to work with documents that are similar to the documents they write. They appreciate that their specific needs are addressed and met in a customized technical writing seminar rather than wasting their time attending a generic, "traveling road show" that addresses a variety of topics superficially rather than delving into relevant information in detail.
Q: Why do you ask potential clients to submit sample documents?
A: Initially, it gives me an idea of the types of documents that are common within the organization. Another reason I review samples is to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the writing. Also, if the company uses templates, I can make suggestions as to how the templates may be improved. Most importantly, I use the sample documents to weave pertinent examples throughout the training material. I have found that participants are much more engaged in training that has been specifically tailored to include their types of documents—and incorporates suggested improvements in wording and format.
Q: Doesn't it take a lot of time to customize the training materials? Why do you bother?
A: It is time-consuming, but the end result is worthwhile. The high level of satisfaction of past clients stems partially from the pertinence of the materials and participants' awareness that their employer has made a financial investment to ensure that the technical writing training is relevant and meaningful. Everyone's time is valuable, and I guarantee that participants come away with strong new skills that they can put to immediate use.
Q: What else differentiates your technical writing training from that of your competitors?
A: I have a depth of experience that comes from years of creating specialized training materials for each technical writing seminar and working with a diverse client base. Please see my government client list and corporate client list. Also, I love training and remain enthusiastic about the subject matter and working with new clients. Providing technical writer training is fulfilling and challenging—I continue to learn new information myself and enjoy passing along the latest changes and professional standards/best practices.
Q: Can you suggest some Internet resources related to technical writing?
A: Yes. Click on the links below to find additional valuable technical writing information.
Catherine S. Hibbard is a nationally recognized expert in business and technical writing. She designs and delivers customized training seminars in technical and business writing, writing effective policies and procedures, and proofreading/editing.
Ms. Hibbard's client base, which is diverse and impressive, draws from both corporations and government agencies such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), several NASA centers, and numerous military branches. Her corporate clients include Nestlé Purina, Lowe’s, Verizon, and Campbell Soup. She has been awarded contracts for large training initiatives with the Office of Professional Management (OPM), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), New York State Insurance Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).