Technical Writers like Business Analysts, have to create documentation and publish information for consumption by project team members and in most cases, an external audience. This article highlights key tips you should be aware of and what to look out for when preparing documents or deliverables for stakeholder review.
1. Ensure your document is accurate
Errors within the deliverables or documents you produce can shatter trust in your work. Ensure you have the correct facts before publishing any document or sharing it for feedback. Even if you plan to send a document out for review and validation, spotting as many errors as possible from the get-go will reduce the overall chances of accuracy of the final document, particularly, in the event that those errors are not spotted during the review process. It's important to also double-check the information you have received from other people, where possible.
One obvious way to improve accuracy is by knowing what you're writing about. The more you know about the subject, the more accurate your document will be.
2. Ensure your document is reviewed by the right people
You've probably been there before - You prepare a document based on what you know and share with others for their validation but some of the feedback you receive is not relevant. Select your reviewers carefully. They must be people who understand the subject and can spot any errors in your document, without introducing errors of their own.
3. Ensure your document is complete
In addition to making sure the content of your document is accurate, you should also ensure key information is not missing. Complete documentation has all the information necessary for the target audience to take action or use the information, otherwise, your audience would need to refer to supplementary sources of information to get what they need.
4. Ensure your document is easy to read
If you're preparing a user guide, for example, ensure that the information is logically grouped so that your audience can find answers to their questions easily. Eliminate unnecessary words and use short sentences to convey your point. As part of ensuring your documentation is easy to read, use the same terms to mean the same thing consistently and avoid using terms that are unfamiliar to your audience.
5. Ensure your document is based on a recommended style guide
All company documents should look like they have come from the same company and should ideally have the same branding and imagery applied. A style guide provides insights into typographical conventions that are recommended within your organisation. If none exists, you may need to create one or use a template that can be modified consistently across the organisation.