A detailed Guide to Become a Documentation Writer
A documentation writer deciphers the complex data or information into understandable language. The job of a documentation writer is almost similar to a technical writer. However, it varies as you work with different kinds of businesses. As easy as its sounds, the work of a documentation writer is not like a walk in the park. These writers work with almost all departments of businesses to gather information and structure full-proof content. Knowing and understanding the customer is also a part of the job.
So how can you kickstart your career as a documentation writer? This article includes all the ins and outs details that you need to begin your career as a documentation writer. The demand for writing in the industry will remain unscathed even with the advancement in AI technology.
AI can re-phrase the existing content, and some tools can give you content from scratch, but it will not be as detailed as human writing. That said, the future of writing is bright and getting competitive as the day passes. When we say writing, it’s not like drafting a short note or essay like we all used to do in school.
Becoming a writer in the industry is a totally different experience. A simple content writer’s work majorly includes research. However, when it comes to a documentation writer, things are different. When you strive to become a documentation writer, you always have to be ready for challenges and work with the first-mover mindset.
You might wonder, why first-mover mindset? Well, before a consumer uses the product, it will be you who is going to use it. You have to scan the product entirely to draft its guides on how to use it, explain its benefits, and other legal information like its warranty and so.
So, what kind of degree or certificate do you need to get a job as a documentation writer. Next off, this article will walk you through what it takes to be a documentation writer.
What is a Documentation Writer?
The example we give you about a product guide is just one thing; there’s more to it, e.g. IT documentation, API documentation, Java documentation, Process documentation, policy and procedures, knowledge base, and training materials. As you can see, a document writer is nothing less than a backbone for a business.
A simple definition of a document writer would be a person who simplifies technical jargon into simple language for the end-user. Now, the end-user doesn’t have to be a customer all the time. It can be another business or a particular department of your own business.
Recommended Read: Technical Writing Courses in India
Is It A Right Career Choice For You?
Before jumping into any career path, it’s necessary to do a little bit of research to get a basic idea about whether it is worth doing or not. In the above section, we’ve mentioned some of the work responsibilities of a document writer. Well, it’s not like when you get a job, you have to do all those things.
Every business has different requirements, so thoroughly read their job description. Now that we have cleared a misconception. Let us help you understand whether it is the right career path for you or not.
If you match with any of the points we have mentioned below, you are a right fit for becoming a document writer:
- You love to read and write.
- You can understand complex information and easily explain it to anybody.
- You love learning new concepts.
- You are tech-savvy.
- You are creative and adaptive.
These are the basic key point you will find in any document writer. Even if you don’t match with any of the points we cited, don’t worry; you can still give it a try to test your luck.
How To Become a Documentation Writer
To begin with, let’s focus on the writing part first. How good can you write? Can you explain the difficult-to-understand terms in simple language? Apart from writing about your bio for yourself, what else can you write? Also, how good are you at adapting to new changes? These are some of the basic questions that you should ask yourself.
You already know how to write. What you don’t know is what to write. You can refer to other people’s work using the Google search engine, and you will get the idea. I will be explaining each point in detail that helps you get started so, read till the very end.
Understanding The Groundwork
Document writing is not a popular field in education. Therefore no university will teach you about it in detail. However, everybody had done it subconsciously; the only difference was you didn’t notice it. To mention some of them, once in a life you must have done a project in your school and college, where you made ppts, flowcharts, written a thesis and more alike.
What are these? These are documents you created explaining one thing in different ways. Now, how does it works in the industry? The game of documentation is almost the same as you’ve done in school/college, except there are some technicalities.
To understand how an industry document writer writes, find the instruction manual/quick guide/user guide of the device you have in your home like TV, Refrigerator, AC, Smartphone, etc. A document writer has done the paperwork you get along with your electronic gadgets.
Start reading it, and you will get an idea of what to write. After that, analyze these documents’ structure. Meaning what comes first and how each step is planned; so the end-user can understand it easily. To learn more, read the troubleshooting articles on software products.
Simply search “Microsoft troubleshoot” or any other product you like to use a lot. Once you read these document we have mentioned, you will get a crystal clear idea of how a document writer work.
Learn The Required Software
There is a wide range of software and web tools available for a document writer because it’s not just writing; you should be able to represent contextual information in a way that catches the eyes of the targeted audience.
Below tools are most known in the industry:
- MS Visio
- Google Doc
- Adobe Photoshop, Robohelp, Framework, and Illustrator
- oXygen XML editor
- Microsoft Word
- WPS Office
- Windows Sniping Tool and Movie Maker
If your head gets spun with the fact, do you have to know all of them? Then, let us help relax your mind with the answer, NO. Many of you have at least used Microsoft Word or Google Docs once in a while. You know the basics of it, and to advance your skills with these SaaS products, you can use Youtube.
What we recommend learning is Adobe SaaS products and Microsoft Visio. Learning them at first can be quite difficult but as you spend more time learning and applying, there’s no doubt you will become a pro at using these SaaS products.
Become a Curator
You have to be proactive in this field to get your work done. A document writer is not limited to a particular subject matter or product. That said, you will always explore new things every day, and since you are not an encyclopedia, you have to gather knowledge from others.
To explain it in more simple terms, here’s an example. You work in an office writing product guides. To do that, first, you need to understand what problem it solves and who’s going to use it. To accomplish this task, you will be contacting the marketing team to help you out with the questions.
Next up is the design and manufacturing team that explains technical terms of products like dimension, weight, the material used, warranty, etc. You will work with the different departments of your office consistently until you get the work done.
As a document writer, you are responsible for paperwork of the business such as a whitepaper, contract, legal documents, and more alike. Therefore, you should always be prepared to take upon challenges and learn new subjects because technology is not the only complex field.
Structure the Intel
After gathering information, you need to process the intel incoherent language, but that’s not enough. A proper structure of content drives the user from point A to B without any redirection. Structure content means what goes first in writing. Sound easy, right?
For the experienced user, it might seem easy, but for a beginner, it’s not a cakewalk. Fret not, you will learn it with practice in no time, so don’t quit that easily. While structuring the content, you have to keep in mind its visual representation.
How will it look on paper because product guides are not like textbooks? You can carve your visualization into software like MS Visio, Adobe, or any else from the list that we mentioned in the section “Learn The Required Software”.
Let’s summarize the points till now I’ve discussed.
- Analyze other people work
- Learn soft skill
- Communication with other departments
- Structuring the content
Now, it’s time to write.
Where to begin? Writing the first word and sentence is primarily the rigid part of any writing, be it an essay, your bio on LinkedIn, or writing a guide. What to write? Even though you have everything on the table and read other people’s work, you can’t think of anything.
First of all, reading other people can help you get ideas and inspiration, but you can’t copy the lines. A simple exercise to come up with something while writing a document for anything is to put yourself first in the process. If you are writing a product guide, think about how you are going to use it and start writing.
Start forging the sentence around the intel you have. As for help in writing, use Grammarly to get rid of spelling and grammar errors. Do not edit anything until you have utilized all the information in text form.
Once you write everything, arrange them in the correct order. Use new docs or spreadsheets for it, as changing existing documents can take a longer time.
After writing and setting up all the lines in order, check the content like a scanning machine. Fix the spelling mistakes with the help of the Grammarly tool and keep the text tone as required. Editing is vital because when you read the entire content, you get the idea of what to keep and what to remove.
Also, sometimes you have to re-write an entire sentence, so editing is no walk-in-the-park procedure. So while editing, pay attention to details like a hawk.
Tips To Improve Your Document Writing
Document writing is not about just words; the way of representation matters equally. If it’s text-only, no one will ever read your work. The software helps you with the representation, and you are the one who gives it a shape. When you write something, try including an image in it if possible.
As you know, “An image says a thousand words.” Not limited to that only, it gives the reader a reason to read the text around it. Keep the writing tone according to your targeted audience. When you constantly write in a single tone, it becomes a habit, so when you begin writing a document, make sure to keep in mind the audience’s persona.
There are various types of writing tones. The majorly known are conversational, informal, storytelling, and technical. As we have already written in the article, a document writer works with almost all divisions of the business, so be good at communicating with people. Constant learning is a key element for a document writer.
Job or Freelancing: Which Is Better?
A document writer said as a part of a technical writing role. As a beginner, you can expect to have a package of 3 LPA. Now, it will vary depending on the locality you are living in. While doing your job, you can take on some freelance projects too. You can do it to earn extra cash for yourself.
If you are not a student, we advise you not to leave the job or business you are in and start freelancing in your free time. In the case of a student, you should start freelancing in the early stages. In our opinion, none of these options are good or bad. It depends on your situation and how dedicated you are.
Frequently Asked Question
Q.1. How long does it take to become a documentation writer?
Ans. There’s no time rule that can show how much time it takes. It comes with practice. Learn the basics, master the soft skills and communicate better with others.
Q.2: What are the education requirements to get a job as a document writer?
Ans. From the perspective of the hirer, most of them prefer a person with at least a bachelor’s degree in journalism, or marketing. But we say don’t let it be the barrier. Even if you don’t come from the education we mentioned you can still apply if you love to do it and you are really good at it.
Q.3: Should I take a course or learn from the internet to become a writer?
Ans. It depends on your financial situation and how much time you have to invest. To get a streamlined flow of learning and getting the result faster a course is definitely a way to go. However, if you thinking to start part-time then self-paced learning is also a good option.
Starting as a document writer can be crucial, and since it’s a part of a technical writer, you can try enrolling in the technical writing course. You can become a document writer on your own by using the sources available on the internet. However, it will take more time than usual to speed up your career in this field; learning from the best is beneficial. A document writer is an excellent job though it’s not that anybody can do it. If you have an interest in writing, then you should try to become a document writer.