Lesson 1- Technical Writing Overview
Technical writing is a relatively new profession, but people have been writing technical documents for centuries. In our first lesson, you'll learn the fascinating history of technical writing, plus how the instructor (and many others) became technical writers and how technical writing employs both the logical and creative sides of your brain.
Lesson 2- Preparing to Write
Technical writing requires preparation. In this lesson, you'll learn the basics of project management for your documentation project (including average amounts of time you should dedicate to different writing activities), key questions to help you analyze your reading audience, and how to organize the information you gather.
Lesson 3- Gathering Information
In today's lesson, you'll learn powerful communication skills that will help you get the information you need. You'll find out how to develop your listening skills and use body language that keeps you alert and encourages the people you're interviewing to talk with you. You'll 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.
Lesson 4- Writing Skills
Do you ever get writer's block? Most writers do! Today you'll learn how to shut off your internal editor and give yourself permission to write your first draft more quickly and easily. You'll learn tips that will help you keep writing even when you realize you don't have all of the information you need, plus you'll have more confidence after you finish the grammar and punctuation review in this lesson, which includes tips about how to make your writing more interesting.
Lesson 5- Tech Writing Conventions
Every profession has rules and conventions that separate the novices from the pros. In this lesson, you'll learn all about time-honored technical writing conventions, such as using parallel structure, an inverted pyramid style of writing, effective headings, and lists.
Lesson 6- Graphics
Should you save your graphics as bitmaps, gifs, or jpgs? In this lesson, we'll go over the difference between the most popular graphics file formats and guidelines for using each. You'll also learn about a new file format called PNG, and how to create screenshots on your PC, then manipulate your shots in Windows' Paint, saving you the expense of far more costly graphics programs.
Lesson 7- Document Formatting
Formatting your document can be critical to its success. In this lesson, you'll learn how to choose the typeface or typefaces you want to use and principles for using type effectively in your document. You'll learn about the things you need to keep in mind when laying out your pages. We'll take a look at some layouts that are commonly used in technical documents, then we'll discuss how to achieve those layouts using Microsoft Word.
Lesson 8- Microsoft Word's Paragraph Styles
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 at some time in your technical writing career. In fact, most companies require that you be proficient with Word when considering you for technical writing positions. So in this lesson, you'll learn how Microsoft Word is different from other word-processing applications and how to use, modify, and create Word's paragraph styles.
Lesson 9- Document Templates
When companies use Microsoft Word for their documentation, they expect you to know how to use and create Word templates. In this lesson, you'll learn quick ways to build templates, plus you'll learn some Word skills that will help you dazzle potential employers, such as recording macros, customizing your toolbar, and using cross-references, AutoText, and captions.
Lesson 10- Creating Indexes
Did you know that indexes are the most widely read section in any technical document? In today's lesson, we'll review indexing conventions, and I'll provide a few tips on building a great index for your document. You'll also learn how to use Microsoft Word to make indexing a bit easier.
Lesson 11- Editing and Proofreading
To polish your document and make it the best it can be, you need to proofread it and edit it. In today's lesson, you'll learn tips from professional proofreaders and editors, as well as ways you can use Microsoft Word to help you check your spelling and grammar.
Lesson 12- Publishing Your Document
Publishing your document is an exciting time. All of your hard work is almost done—or is it? In our final lesson, you'll learn about different printing options and trends in publishing. We'll also explore ways you can use your technical writing skills in the job market, a four-step plan for getting your first job, and some ideas about freelancing. Questions are always encouraged!