A Comprehensive Guide to Google Free Technical Writing Course
Are you a tech geek and a passionate writer looking for opportunities to open doors to a career in technical writing? Or do you want to facilitate a technical writing course? Then, Google has the complete package for your perfect dream. The good news is you can upgrade your technical writing skills by taking up Google’s free technical writing course. Also, you don’t need to be an expert to guide and facilitate your peers.
With the growing technical industry, the demand for technical writers has seamlessly increased. Industry search for technical writers who can develop, research, and disseminate the knowledge across the organization’s communication channels. Preparing the how-to manuals, instructions, journal articles, documentation are add-ons.
Let’s dive into the article to explore more about technical writing and review the technical writing course by Google.
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What is Technical writing?
Often, people confuse technical writing with general English writing or business writing. Let me brief you about the definition of technical writing and help you understand how technical writing is different from other forms of writing.
Technical writing is drafting technical information in varied forms such as instruction guides, product support documents, summary statements, user manuals, installation guides, release notes, etc. A technical writer needs to conceptualize, analyze, and author technical documentation. A technical writer needs to have in-depth knowledge about technology and tools with a blend of writing proficiency.
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How is technical writing different from other writing forms?
To understand how technical writing is distinct from other writing styles, let’s explore business writing, academic writing, literary writing, and creative writing.
Technical writing vs. Business writing
Technical writing is based on reasoning, providing research-based and clear-cut information. In addition to conveying accurate technical information, technical writing revolves around writing meticulously and unambiguously.
Technical writing is like a game of archery in which you need to shoot the right arrow of technical information with your finger tab, focus, and hit the target audience with clarity. Many people confuse technical writing with business writing when both are different from each other.
Business writing is more persuasive, while technical writing is more objective. Both carry essential and accurate information for the readers. Business writing, however, focuses on cost savings, business benefits, and additional revenues. Writing here is not backed by technical facts. Business writing includes proposals, white papers, emails, tenders, etc.
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Technical writing vs. Academic writing
Technical writing and Academic writing vary immensely from one another. Academic writing targets scholars and researchers. Writing conference papers or research proposals is part of academic writing.
If you were an engineering graduate, I am sure you must have written an academic paper on your final year project. Yes, that is academic writing. I remember my publication with IEEEon Doubly fed induction Generator.
Technical writing targets the users of a product or a service. User-interface documentation, procedural writing, case study explanations are part of technical writing. Presenting academic theories and results for research papers or writing journal articles are part of academic writing.
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Technical writing vs. Literary writing
Literary writing and technical writing vary in style, language, and expression. A standard, methodological representation is known as technical writing. A creative, eloquent compilation is known as literary writing.
Literary work catering to any genre in any writing style such as poems, novels falls under Literary writing. For instance, the creative work of Shakespeare or Wordsworth in the field of poetry is a literary work.
Any creative composition such as fiction, non-fiction, a poem is an example of literary writing. Non-Fiction writing and technical writing differ in terms of the target audience. Non-Fiction is for readers from across the world. Technical writing is for specific users across the globe.
Technical writing and literary writing oppose each other’s writing styles. The former writing style is formal, official, and logical. The literary style is informal, personal, and emotional.
Technical writing vs. Creative writing
Creative writing is imaginative and fictional. Technical writing is concrete and research-based. If you want to practice technical writing, master the art of writing formally and concisely. On the contrary, if you want to write creatively, lure your audience with your new perspective.
Creative writing is artistic, used for entertainment. Creative writing uses connotative language. Technical writing is factual, used for providing information and instruction. Technical writing is denotative.
The style, tone, format, language, purpose is different for varied writing styles. Every writing style is unique and directed towards specific audiences. Business writing, academic writing, literary writing, and creative writing are discrete forms of writing. To write effectively, understanding the difference between each of these writing forms is quintessential. I think you can now draft a technical article without getting confused about other forms of writing.
Now, let’s swim through Google’s free technical writing course.
Why choose a free technical writing course offered by Google?
- This course offers writing techniques for computer science students, software engineers, software professionals, and high-skilled professionals like project managers.
- This free technical writing course provides pre-class lessons (self-paced) and in-class lessons (instructor-led).
- Pre-class and in-class lessons sum up to 8 hours of learning for students and 8.5 hours for facilitators.
- This course aids a learner and a facilitator.
- Google technical writing course has resourceful and detailed resources.
- Each section of this course contains numerous examples and exercises enabling in-depth understanding.
- Ideal for beginners. This free technical writing course helps the newbies- students and facilitators with a technical background.
- Offers end-to-end exposure of writing starting from grammar, words, and upscaling to sentences and paragraphs.
- Part one of this free technical writing course guides on an audience-focused approach.
- Section Doc resources provide all-inclusive information on the editorial style guide.
Takeaways from pre-class material for students
1. Review on Google technical writing course one
- Technical writing course one covers grammar and punctuation.
- Learning objectives in the intro section gives an overview of fundamental topics.
- The Words section discusses the consistent use of words, the use of unfamiliar acronyms, and disambiguate pronouns.
- The Active voice section distinguishes passive voice in simple sentences and discusses a few formulas to recognize passive verbs.
- The Clear sentences section helps to choose strong verbs and guides to refactor amorphous adverbs/ adjectives into objective info.
- The Short sentences section emphasizes the need for shorter documentations.
- The Lists and Tables section explains the bulleted lists, numbered lists, and embedded lists and shares guidelines on creating tables.
- The Paragraphs section elaborates on how to write effective paragraphs.
- The Audience section highlights the ways to fit your documentation according to the audience. This section is devoted to the audience’s perception.
- How to organize paragraphs into a logical document? The Documents section describes this question in subtle detail.
- Some more additional resources are termed optional.
Review on optional documents in Google technical writing course one:
In pre-class learning lessons, a few sections are termed optional. But it would be of great use for beginners. It would be a refresher for professionals. There are three sections, one on grammar, one on punctuation, and one on Markdown. Here is crisp information on each of these sections.
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2. ‘Just enough Grammer’ section
- This section gives a synopsis of Nouns, Pronouns, Adjectives, Verbs, Adverbs, prepositions, and conjunction.
- The entire unit gives a plethora of examples. It’s short, crisp, and to the point. It only takes ten minutes to complete the reading.
- You can always brush up on your basics and put them to use while writing.
- One good thing is the unit provides examples related to the software domain. You can get a taste of writing through technical terms.
3. Punctuation section
- This section covers Commas, Semicolons, Em-dashes, and Parentheses.
- If you want a quick refresh on punctuation, refer to this column.
- Programming languages have punctuation rules.
- This section guides you with some basic punctuation techniques while drafting a technical article.
- They have touched upon some ambiguous cases for better understanding.
4. Markdown section
What is Markdown?
- Technical professionals use tools like Markdown for editing their documents.
- Markdown is a formatting tool that provides an easy-to-use syntax for styling various writing types on the GitHub platform.
- When you write long articles and documents, you need not spend time formatting them.
- Instead, you can use the Markdown tool that uses non-alphabetical characters for bold, italic, etc.
What does this section explain?
- This section only gives a brief detail on Markdown and recommends taking up Markdown tutorials.
5. Review on Google technical writing course two
Part one briefs on pointers to draft a technical document. Part two helps to improve your documentation.
How to use techniques to detect possible mistakes in your writing? How to correct the recurring errors in a technical document? What are the tactics for writing second or third drafts? How to optimize your tech doc? How to organize large documents? How to sketch technical illustrations? How to create a sample code? Part two answers all these complicated questions.
Let’s review this second course precisely.
- Self-editing section –Reiterates on adopting ways to refine your document.
- ‘Organizing large documents section –When to write large documents? What are the steps to organize them? You can find answers in this section with technical examples.
- Illustrating section- More than words, visual images attract the readers. Illustrations enable easy understating. This section gives detailed info on how to write a caption, how to create killer illustrations, and how to organize complex figures. Google drawings, diagrams.net, and LucidChart are free options available to create diagrams.
- Creating Sample Code section- For people from non-engineering backgrounds, this section will be a savior. It gives a glimpse of clear instructions on sample code criteria.
6. Review on Doc Resources
Google prefers an editorial style guide for technical writing. They recommend Google Developer Documentation Style Guide and Microsoft Writing Style Guide. Google Developer Documentation Style Guide is a mandate for tech writers at Google. Let me give you quick details on this topic.
Style Guide for Google Technical Writers – A synopsis
If you want to write Google technical documentation, adopt the Google Developer Style Guide guidelines and write with clarity and consistency. The style guide has immense information. Begin with the Highlights page. It gives quick directives on tone, content, language, grammar, formats, punctuations, and images. Otherwise, the entire content may be intimidating. First, decide on your requirement. Go to highlights and choose your topic. If you need elaborate descriptions of selected topics, click on the links.
Quick lessons from Google Developer Style Guide:
The style guide covers ten topics – Key resources, General principles, Grammer, Punctuation, Formatting, Linking, Computer interfaces, HTML and CSS, and naming. Let’s explore some of these topics.
1. The takeaway from Key resources
- Know your closed compounds and prefixes.
- Know when to use a hyphenated word and when to use a compound word. For instance, dataset or metadata is a closed compound word while multi-region is a hyphenated word.
- Refer to the A-Z list for Google technical terms related to closed compounds and prefixes before drafting your technical document.
- Learn how to shorten the product names. Use “the” before the product names when you want to qualify for something else. Don’t use product names as verbs.
- Use bold formatting technique for UI elements like buttons, menu, dialogues, list names, etc.
- Italicize parameter names, term definitions, titles, mathematical and version variables.
- Avoid underlining. Use code font to mark up code like method names, HTTP codes, and placeholder variables.
- Don’t use short forms like ampersands (&), use and instead.
- Use semantic HTML to control the style.
- Follow global styles for font size, type, and color.
2. The takeaway from General principles
- Read the general dos and Don’ts on the accessibility page and follow accordingly.
- Create documents with shorter sentences, fewer than 26 words in a sentence.
- Define acronyms and abbreviations whenever necessary.
- Write unique headlines to attract readers. Follow heading tags like <h1> and <h2>.
- Highlight external links for new domains.
- Use SVG or PNG formats for images and summarize the purpose of each image.
- If you are adding any video content or GIFs, provide captions.
- Introduce tables and forms when required.
- Write with a global audience mindset. Ensure to use localization, translation, and internationalization suitable for non-native English speakers.
- Try to write in a friendly tone, avoid ableist language, eliminate unintentional bias.
- Create your original content and be careful when reusing content from open-source or references or other third-party sources.
- Try to avoid technical jargon in your documents.
3. The takeaway from Language and Grammer section
- Take care of article usage in your document.
- Use sentences with Active voice. However, in some cases, you can use passive voice.
- Implement your learnings from the grammar section of the technical writing course one.
4. The takeaway from the Punctuation section
- Use a colon when the preceding sentence is stand-alone.
- Use commas to separate independent clauses from dependent clauses, and use them after introductory words.
- To break the sentence flow, use Em dashes.
- Don’t use ellipses in your written documentation or user interfaces.
- Use a period at the end of bulleted and numbered lists. Don’t use periods for headings and captions.
- Use semicolons, slashes, and quotation marks as per the style guide.
5. The takeaway from the Formatting section
- Use specific formatting styles.
- Use unique formatting styles for dates, figures, footnotes, headings, letters, numbers, and tables.
6. The takeaway from the Linking section
- Create useful links for internal and external references.
- When the context demands, use link texts.
- Use sire-root-relative URL for images belonging to the same domain.
7. The takeaway from the Computer Interfaces section
- Put code-related terms in a code font and provide an API interface.
- Follow command-line syntax and placeholder formats.
8. The takeaway from the HTML and CSS section
- Use fonts given in the standard CSS.
- Use HTML and semantic tagging correctly.
- Use either HTML or Markdown.
9. The takeaway from the Naming section
- Use dummy or generic domain names in an example.
- Use hyphens when naming a directory.
This pre-class material is an eye-opener for students trying to master their writing skills. Students can follow the techniques discussed in technical writing courses one and two while writing a tech doc. Students can easily relate to technical writing in a software domain through examples. The Google developer style guide is a boon that has handy information for beginners.
Let’s look at how facilitators can make the most out of this free technical writing course.
Takeaways from pre-class material for facilitators
- The facilitator’s guide is available for in-person and virtual learning techniques.
- Any student or a good facilitator who wants to lead the course can take up this guide.
- A facilitator needs to join the worldwide community group and then gain access to slide decks.
- A facilitator needs to assign pre-class materials for students and conduct peer discussions.
- Additional tips for facilitators are available in this section.
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How to become a technical writer at Google?
We have seen an overall review of the course. After learning this free technical writing course, how do I become a google technical writer? I hope many are wondering about this question. Let me give a glimpse of how you can become a technical writer at Google.
Google tech writers document products like Google maps, cloud, chrome, etc apart from hardware or consumer products.
The top skills to become a technical writer at Google are:
- Precise writing skills
- Fast-paced learning ability
- Good writing quality
- Technological understanding
- Ability to grasp complex technology
- Ability to explain the usefulness of tech to the right audience
- Code understanding
Technical writers at Google are a blend of engineers, journalists, physicists, lawyers, teachers, etc. They are from diverse professional backgrounds. Google recommends contributing to open source projects if the applicants lack a technical communication portfolio but are equipped with the requisite skills.
All you have to do is learn the free technical writing course by Google, have a basic understanding. Practice and contribute to open source projects in case of non-exposure. Go to the Google Careers website and apply for a suitable Technical writer position.
Voice of Google Developer Technical writers:
Before choosing a career path in a company, it’s always encouraging to read the employee reviews. And to listen to their say about the exposure and experience. Precisely, their to and fro journey. You can find a separate page dedicated to the voice of technical writers at Google.
This page will aid you in understanding how people landed up as tech writers at Google. It was fascinating to know how people from hybrid backgrounds made their way up the ladder to become Google technical writers. You can learn how people from different educational backgrounds conquered the technical writing position at Google.
Marissa’s story was influential. As a person who struggled with writing to a person landing a tech writing job, Marissa overcame her fear and made her dream a reality. It was lovely to read Nicola’s story. Nicola’s story ascertained the fact that internships are turning points.
The free technical writing course by Google is flexible and resourceful. If you want to become a technical writer in a software domain, the pre-material documents in this course are beneficial. Beginner-friendly lessons are available in this free technical writing course. Additional technical writing resources such as style guides are a plus. Both students and facilitators can enjoy this course.
This course elaborates on various writing styles and writing errors but does not help you with the technology. Be equipped with a basic level of technology, then take this free technical writing course by Google. When you are confident, apply for a suitable role to start your career in technical writing.
Improve your writing ability with this free technical writing course. Improve your technical knowledge and enhance your learning potential. And try to work as a technical writer at Google. It is time to work towards your dream job. Take up the free technical writing course by Google and live your dreams.