In one of the courses I teach at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology), I received an email from a very keen participant asking how to prepare for the course (Technical Editing and Grammar course – 1008). Inspired by such enthusiasm (this is what makes September great!), I decided to take it further and include information for anyone interested in improving their core skills as a technical writer.
Get a Quality Style Guide – Consider ordering the Chicago Manual of Style (I have both an online and hard copy version). It’s an excellent investment for anyone interested in high-quality English-language writing.
Learn MS Word – Research the Track Changes feature in MS Word. There are other software programs technical writers need for writing, but MS Word is still the most common. As a technical writer, you’re expected to use Word at an advanced level.
Learn hard copy markup – It may seem archaic, but hard copy markup makes you indispensable when editing and developing large documents).
Learn the Most Common Grammar Errors – In my course, we learn the ten-top grammar errors. Don’t feel you have to know all grammar errors (that’s what a good style guide is for), but your credibility as a writer is increased exponentially if you know the core ones. To find out the ten-top grammar errors, take my course.
Write, write, write! – to get your foot in the door, take every opportunity you can to write and edit even if it means working for free. Ensure you ask low paying (or non paying) clients to let you keep a copy of the before and finished versions, so you can use them to market yourself.