TECHNIQUES - Archives Nov. 99

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What Is Technical Communication?
by Kiley Amundson

Technical communication connects the creator and the user of technology. Technical communication relies on understanding the components of a document and translating those parts in a clear and concise way. The following are some aspects of what is involved in the field of technical communication.

Document Design

Technical communicators are responsible for document design. Document design uses desktop publishing programs to give attention to textual design along with graphical elements. Many of the textual aspects such as spacing, headings, and tabs are taken for granted in documents. Users assume that the standard layout of a document is already in the best or most efficient format possible. However, by changing a block of lengthy text to a simplified list, the same information is suddenly more understandable and easier to read. It is important for the technical communicator to analyze these elements and decide which are beneficial to the overall document to be helpful for the intended users.

Graphics and Visuals

Graphic illustrations such as charts, graphs, and tables are important elements of technical communication. They give documents the ability to visually display data figures and messages to a particular audience. There are a variety of purposes for using graphics in technical documents: They enhance reader comprehension, serve as a quick reference, and add appeal and credibility.

Defining Terms

When technical communicators conduct research to write documents, they must consider many elements. One of the most important is language and term definition. Since language differs from culture to culture, it is important to define any words that do not translate. Technical communicators must define all terms that may be unfamiliar to users. As technology advances, so does the field of technical communication. However, document design, graphics and visuals, and defining terms will remain the responsibility of the technical communicator.

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