Date: May, 2022 | Category: Proofreading | Author: Hana Trokic
Web pages, reports, datasheets, product descriptions and specifications, case studies, white papers, and job applications. What do all of these have in common? They are all examples of technical writing. A highly specialized form of writing, this method of communication is used in a large array of professional fields from software, finance, medical, and consumer goods, just to name a few. Where a clear set of instructions is needed, that’s where technical writing is wanted. This form of writing is formal, professional, and, unfortunately, is no place to let your creative juices flow. Instead, technical writing focuses on conveying information in the most clear and effective manner possible. Because of its nature and audience, technical writing should also be highly accurate and free from all errors.
Traditionally, technical writers use many different tools to ensure the quality of their content. From document management systems to authoring tools and various editors, these platforms are essential in the complete workflow of the technical writing process. Since mistakes in technical documents could potentially lead to disastrous consequences and outcomes, priority should be put on creating error-free content. A tool that can significantly help achieve this task is a compare file tool. The answer to all of your proofreading problems, this software works by overlaying two files to find the discrepancies between the two. Any errors can be detected, no matter how small, and the inspection pinpoints the exact locations of all deviations. Yes, a technical writer’s dream come true!
Simplicity is often the most complicated thing to achieve, so taking a few shortcuts to help us get there should be embraced with open arms. To get that perfectly written technical document every time, we first need to learn how to avoid common mistakes in technical writing. The secret? We get by with a little help from our software friends.
Spell Check in Full Effect
Probably the most common mistakes in written documents are spelling errors or typos. They are the mistakes that we are most likely to notice in text and are also the mistakes that drastically decrease the quality, reliability, and credibility of a document, especially regarding technical documentation. Most word processors and publishing tools have built-in spell checks that automatically detect errors during the writing stages of content. Several platforms such as Grammarly have also been created and take spell checks to the next level. Not only does it find spelling mistakes, but it also assesses the word flow and overall readability of a written document. These technological add-ons are handy in the creation stages of copy, but what about the later phases like the production process? The stages after said document has been printed? How can we ensure that errors haven’t occurred after the printing stage? Errors such as formatting issues, text breaks, missing letters and words are common occurrences that can appear due to printer failures and glitches.
With a compare file tool, you can streamline your entire quality control workflow and ensure flawless content throughout all stages of production. After a document has been created and printed, the software enables a complete scan and inspection of documents to find all errors in the file. From pesky spelling errors (they always seem to slip through regardless of how many times it has been proofread), to any text errors such as punctuation, font, and word deviations, the file comparison software will detect and pinpoint the exact error locations to allow for adequate adjustments in record time.
As Far as the Eye Can’t See
We hate to uncover new fears for technical writers everywhere, but did you know that there may be errors in your content that you aren’t even aware of? Even after meticulous manual proofreading, many errors could be slipping through due to manual verification’s many downsides and imperfect nature. Even if you’ve made sure that all of your spelling and punctuation is perfect, there are other aspects in content creation, such as graphics and formatting, that the eye simply cannot catch during a manual document inspection.
Common errors during content creation and production include colour deviations, text breaks, spacing, and formatting. All of which are more difficult to catch with the naked eye. While more obvious deviations may be easy to see, minor differences need help from technology to be resolved. In essence, file comparison software overlays two files to find the discrepancies between them. Comparing the master copy to a sample, it finds all differences between the two no matter how small. Differences and errors that would otherwise go unnoticed, a compare file tool can catch at rates of 1000 characters per second. Infinitely faster than any manual inspection and more accurate to boot. While every technical writer’s worst fear may be a published error, you can continue to write your content without hesitation as a file comparison tool will put those fears to rest.
Frequently punctuation is put on the back burner, and not enough thought or attention is put on its proper use. However, punctuation should never be overlooked in technical writing, and its correct use should be emphasized.
One of the most common punctuation mistakes is inconsistency, and often, a document can have many different variations of a single punctuation if not proofed properly. This includes curly and straight apostrophes, spaces before or after commas, parenthesis, quotations, or periods, and inconsistent punctuation combinations such as commas and quotations. Punctuation can sometimes be a stylistic choice and allows you the freedom to choose as you please, but more often than not, there are grammar rules that apply to their correct usage. Whatever it may be, be sure that your punctuation is consistent throughout your entire document to avoid sounding unprofessional, unreliable, and careless. Technical writing is highly specialized and should aim to be well thought out and proficient. Minor and hasty errors such as inconsistency in punctuation can ruin an otherwise great piece of content, so make sure you aren’t ignoring the finer details.
A compare file tool will catch all discrepancies in your punctuation with ease and accuracy and will complete this task within mere seconds. You might have to know the grammar rules by heart, but the proofing will be a breeze.
Let’s Get Technical
One of the top priorities in technical writing is that documents be as clear and concise as possible. No metaphors or abstract ideas, technically written documents should be as straightforward as possible. This is to avoid the possibility of confusion by readers as technical documents serve to present coherent instructions, details, or information.
What Not to Do
On the opposite spectrum of creative writing, there are rules to technical writing that should be followed, and as such, there are things that should absolutely be avoided. The next time you are writing a technical document, make sure you avoid:
- Illogical Structure – before you begin writing, make sure you plan out the flow and order of your document, so it makes as much sense as possible.
- Informal language – remember, this isn’t the time to let your creative side shine. Technical documents should be professional, formal, and contain little to no slang terms but may vary slightly according to audiences.
- Inconsistency – make sure you communicate one concept and not give contradictory or opposing ideas.
- Bad punctuation – improper punctuation can make your written documents seem less reliable and sloppy. Make sure to check your punctuation and use your commas wisely.
- Over complications – sometimes technical writing can get too technical. Overcomplicating your content to sound knowledgeable can often have the opposite effect and become too complex for readers to understand.
Unfortunately, while a file comparison tool can’t write content for you, it can greatly help throughout the content creation process and ensure that all of your “I’s” are dotted and “T’s” are crossed.
What to Do
Now that we know what to avoid, we can look at what to absolutely do when writing technically. The best advice is to simply keep it simple.
We laugh at the shampoo bottle’s “lather, rinse, repeat,” but in reality, this internationally known set of instructions is a perfect example of a technical writing masterpiece. Short, concise, and to the point, everyone can follow these steps and use the product without hesitation or consequence. The result is squeaky clean hair every time.
Let this simple three-word phrase guide all of your technical writing endeavours and serve as a reminder to always keep it clear and easy.
Some Final Thoughts
Since technical writing doesn’t leave much room for artistic interpretation, it’s best to play by the rules to ensure your technical content is concise and error-free. Writers already rely heavily on different software and platforms to ensure the integrity of their work. In doing so, they would greatly benefit from the addition of a compare file tool. Mistakes in technical writing are far less forgiving, and this technology will help you create flawless content in a fraction of the time – every time. No need to spend hours manually proofing your work; let the file comparison tool do it for you! We all need a little help sometimes, so do yourself a favour and start reaping the benefits of file comparison technology today.
To learn more about our file comparison tool, request a demo of GlobalVision here.