Technical Writing – How to write technical documentation for an international audience?

2019-04-18 Speaking No comment

Today, more and more technical documents are either read by international readers or translated. Therefore, as a professional technical writer, you need to pay attention to your own language to avoid any cross-cultural misunderstanding.

If you are giving a speech to a general reader who you don't know well, then you should not use the following 4 things in technical writing:

shrink. from

  Avoid shrinking like "it", "you", "me" or "no". Instead use "it is", "you will", "I will" or "no". Readers who don't understand the Internet will not understand BTW or IMHO. Try their open form: "By the way" and "I see you".

jargon. from

  Avoid jargon, industry-specific "inside" technical terminology. Don't "reduce carbohydrates," but "reduce carbohydrates." Instead of "single source" try to "generate help files, PDFs and documents in other formats from the same source file".

Proverbs and local idioms. from

  Instead of "the network kicked the can" try "network crash." The "Specification Table describes all the functional characteristics of Module A" is much better than the "Specification Table includes the entire 9 yards for Module A".

Direct style. from

  Most non-Americans prefer measurement and formal introduction in emails and documents. So, to help start each chapter by briefly introducing what will be covered later, for example: "In this chapter, we will introduce the main configuration commands and follow the troubleshooting tips."

If you are writing a business letter, it is best to start with a soft start like "Dear Togalowsky Dr." and I am happy to discuss the recoding of the registration process with you by phone yesterday. If you can share your estimate of the project completion date, it would be great…"

This is much better than Dear Dr. Togalowsky! Hey! When do you think you will complete the recoding project? Please let us know as soon as possible…"

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