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Essence of technical authoring

The skill of technical authoring is the categorising and structuring of information for delivery to an end user in a format that can be easily accessed and used and in such a way that they can navigate quickly to information that they require.

For this to be successful the quality of the information must be well written and appropriate to the level of the end user.

AST core skills cover both of the above key elements:

Preparation

The task of preparing source information involves splitting existing paragraphs of source information in to distinct “packets” of information. A verbose and poorly written paragraph of text may mix different types of information, such as procedures interspersed within a description of a product. The writing or editing of packets into clear English is a key requirement for an end user to understand a concept or carry out a task successfully.

A key task is to identify the category types that are required for a specific project.

For example:

Information describing the functions and use of a software application may include category types such as:

Source information needs to be split and edited or written to these specific category types, so that information within a packet contains information only of one specific packet type.

Delivery

Projects which require outputs in different formats, different documents and to different end users from the same information require each “packet” of information to be categorised in such a way that information may be compiled as a deliverable document using a defined structure.

Why is it needed?

Technical authoring is needed to document information about:

  • A new product or series of products and how they are used, interconnect and maintained
  • A new process or series of processes and how they are used, interconnect and maintained
  • A system or series of systems and how they are used, interconnect and maintained
  • An existing product, process or system where documentation was non-existent or deemed unusable
  • Software and how to competently use and troubleshoot it.
What is the value to end users?

Technical authoring delivers significant value by:

  • Providing efficient operation or use
  • Increasing productivity
  • Reducing downtime and streamlining maintenance and troubleshooting
  • Reducing risk
  • Supporting digital transformation
  • Ultimately enhancing the end-user's experience.

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