Fundamentals of Technical Writing

If you have a knack for explaining complex subjects in a way that makes them easy to understand, you should consider entering the well-paying field of technical writing. This course will teach you the fundamental techniques that all successful technical writers use.
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6 Weeks / 24 Course Hrs
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Course code: tec

Do you have a knack for explaining complex subjects in a way that makes them easy to understand? If so, you should consider entering the well-paying field of technical writing. This course will teach you the fundamental techniques that all successful technical writers use. You will learn how to translate complex information into easily understood language, and how to become a wizard at marrying the art of publishing with the science of technology.

You will also learn the secrets of successful technical writers, including technical writing conventions, interviewing skills, desktop publishing and formatting techniques, key tips for developing graphics and templates, documentation management, and how to publish documents both on paper and electronically.

What you will learn

  • How to translate complex information into easily understood language.
  • The secrets of success, including writing conventions, interviewing skills, desktop publishing, and formatting techniques.
  • Key tips for developing graphics and templates, documentation management, and creating high-quality documentation with less work.
  • How to get your first job as a technical writer.

How you will benefit

  • Learn technical writing skills and techniques that are useful in nearly any position or industry.
  • Master a new form of communication to enhance your resume and your job prospects.
  • Be inspired to continue your education with classes like Business and Marketing Writing or Research Methods for Writers.

How the course is taught

  • Instructor-led or self-paced online course
  • 6 Weeks or 3 Months access
  • 24 course hours

Technical writing is a relatively new profession, but people have been writing technical documents for centuries. In the first lesson, you will learn the fascinating history of technical writing and how technical writing employs both the logical and creative sides of your brain.

Technical writing requires preparation. In this lesson, you will learn the basics of project management for your documentation project and key questions to help you analyze your reading audience, and how to organize this information.

In this lesson, you will learn powerful communication skills that will help you get the information you need. You will also learn how to ask questions that help you get the answers you need more efficiently, and how to apply principles of adult learning when you're analyzing the information you've gathered.

Do you ever get writer's block? Most writers do. In this lesson, you will learn how to shut off your internal editor and give yourself permission to write your first draft more quickly and easily. You will discover tips that can help you keep writing even when you don't have all of the information you need.

Every profession has rules and conventions that separate the novices from the pros. In this lesson, you will learn all about time-honored technical writing conventions, such as using parallel structure, an inverted pyramid style of writing, effective headings, and lists.

Should you save your graphics as BMPs, GIFs, or JPGs? This lesson goes over the difference between the most popular graphics file formats and guidelines for using each. You will also learn about a new file format called PNG and how to create and manipulate screenshots on your PC.

Formatting your document can be critical to its success. In this lesson, you will learn how to choose the typeface or typefaces you want to use and principles for using type effectively in your document. You will learn about the things you need to keep in mind when laying out your pages.

Microsoft Word has nearly a 93% market share for PC-based word processing. Chances are high that you will use it at some time in your technical writing career. In this lesson, you will learn how Microsoft Word is different from other word-processing applications and how to use, modify, and create in Word.

When companies use Microsoft Word for their documentation, they expect you to know how to use and create Word templates. In this lesson, you will learn how to build templates and other Word skills such as recording macros, customizing your toolbar, and more.

Did you know that indexes are the most widely read section in any technical document? In this lesson, you will review indexing conventions and ways to build a great index for your document. You will also learn how to use Microsoft Word to make indexing a bit easier.

To polish your document and make it the best it can be, you need to proofread it and edit it. In this lesson, you will learn tips from professional proofreaders and editors, as well as ways you can use Microsoft Word to help you check your spelling and grammar.

Publishing your document is an exciting time. All of your hard work is almost done—or is it? Your final lesson explores different printing options and trends in publishing. You will also learn the ways you can use your technical writing skills and a four-step plan for getting your first job.

Lynn Atkinson earned a B.A. in English from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) in 1993 and an M.A. in English with an emphasis in rhetoric in 1996. A published writer and editor, including contributions to college textbooks, she considers her greatest accomplishment educating thousands of students at UTA, DeVry, Tarrant County College, Southeast Career Institute, and Everest College. She has also been nominated for and awarded "Outstanding Teacher" at several of these institutions. Lynn has developed or co-developed several writing curriculums, won writing contests, and conducted over 10,000 hours of tutoring.

Requirements:

Hardware Requirements:

  • This course must be taken on a PC. Macs are not compatible.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge is also compatible.
  • Any type of word processor can be used in the initial manuscript setup, however Word for Windows is used as the example (not included in enrollment).
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.

Other:

  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Prerequisites:

There are no prerequisites to take this course.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.

Instructor-Led: A new session of each course begins each month. Please refer to the session start dates for scheduling.
Self-Paced: You can start this course at any time your schedule permits.

Instructor-Led: Once a course session starts, two lessons will be released each week for the 6 week duration of your course. You will have access to all previously released lessons until the course ends.
Self-Paced: You have 3 month access to the course. After enrolling, you can learn and complete the course at your own pace, within the allotted access period.

Instructor-Led: The interactive discussion area for each lesson automatically closes two weeks after each lesson is released, so you're encouraged to complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.
Self-Paced: There is no time limit to complete each lesson, other than completing all lessons within the allotted access period.

Instructor-Led: The final exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the final exam has been released, you will have two weeks plus 10 days (24 days total) to complete the final and finish any remaining lessons in your course. No further extensions can be provided beyond these 10 days.
Self-Paced: Because this course is self-paced, no extensions will be granted after the start of your enrollment.

Typically, activities in a technical writing class cover the principles, best practices, and real-life examples of this type of writing. While the types of documents you can create are endless, you must start with the basics of English grammar and punctuation, gathering and organizing your research, and proficiency in Microsoft Word. From there, the sky is the limit.

Microsoft Word has nearly a 93% market share for PC-based word processing, and it's the de facto standard for most corporations and government agencies. Chances are high that you'll use it in your technical writing career. In fact, most companies require that you be proficient with Word when considering you for technical writing positions.