Technical Writing & Communication Resources

Jan 26 2022

🏟️ Organizations #

Society for Technical CommunicationUSA
Tech Comm NZNZ
Write The DocsSoftware bias, but any profession
American Medical Writers AssociationFor medical, obviously

▶️ Videos #

Mastering StyleHow to be a window for your audience.

🌐 Sites #

Diátaxis FrameworkWhy you should separate documentation into 4 types of deliverables.
Programming HistorianProgramming for academics, archivists and writers.
Sample TemplatesAnything from business correspondence to design documents.
I’d Rather Be WritingTom Johnson writes and hosts interviews and podcasts.
Kayce BasquesSoftware-based technical writer.

Stuff that pertains to other industries and specialties.

ℹ️ Information Architecture #

Types of software documentationArticle which explains the differences between product and process docs.
MECE Framework McKinseyThe Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive (MECE) principle is used to break data into manageable and efficient parts. This page has nice diagrams to explain it.
Nielsen Norman Group UX ResearchA group that publishes some of its UX findings for free.

🎙️ Journalism #

Help a ReporterTinder for journalists.

⚖️ Intellectual Property #

IP is actually kinda funny, you gotta write clearly, but without giving away too much detail. Some spoofing is in order…

WIPO Patent Drafting ManualInternational standard

🖥 DevRel #

The difference between a software developer and an engineer is that engineers document their stuff.

API Docs I Like #

No better teacher than good examples, because we should always copy and steal from the Old Masters.

Clearbit #

  • Structure is direct and straightforward
  • Not too many animations
  • Tables are clean (unlike some monstrocities that span the horizontal width and have 3+ columns for some reason)
  • No collapsing menus in the body content (easy to Ctrl-F)
  • I find it interesting that they hide the scrollbar and the fact that it’s 1 gigantic page. Hmm 💡?

🛸 Professional Software #

This list contains software for business use, compared to the open-source/personal stuff listed on the Writing Tools page. Each piece of software has a special niche, and you don’t have to use everything, however it’s good to know the special advantages of a software.

Text Editors #

A simple text editor is important for those times when you really just need to jot something down, and you don’t need fancy styles.

Notepad++Great for simple text editing
VSCodeBetter UX, customizable
MarkdownSimplistic, quick, human-readable plain text.
AsciidoctorPlain-text for authoring technical layouts.
rSTreStructured Text for Sphinx and Python-based docs.

🎩 Help Authoring Tools (HAT) #

In general, HATs are the flagship tools of the trade, specifically designed to organize technical manuals and reusable segments. This style of composition is called topic-based authoring, and alternatively the tool may be known as a CCMS. They allow setting variables for output targets, “programming” which tailors a written product to many audiences and consumption channels.

Madcap FlareA long-standing contender.
Adobe FramemakerSame as above.
DoxygenSoftware documentation kit.
HerettoPreviously known as easyDITA.
PaligoCloud-based CCMS application.
Calencoentreprise français

💡 Knowledgebase #

While HATs can be used to create a knowledgebase (KB), KB style is suited for customer support, which assumes a less expert audience, and typically hosts more multimedia outputs (videos, interaction, diagrams, learning material) besides the usual PDF or article.

Adobe RobohelpI’m getting sick of typing “Adobe”.
Document360Markdown-based authoring.

Wikis are another… strange hybrid. It’s like a knowledgebase or cloud storage, but usually private, and sometimes you want to share with guests. They elicit a “yikes” from me. Kind of a necessary evil.

ConfluenceJIRA integrated wiki and notes repository. Free if under 10 users.
SharePointIntegrated with OneDrive and hosts wiki/intranet portals.
NotionA note-taking and sharing system. Has a free tier.
NuclinoSimilar to Notion.
GuruCheatsheet style cards, works well with Slack chat.

📰 Design and Publish #

Crossover into graphic design and communication with visual mediums.

CanvaPre-made templates for print and social media.
Adobe PhotoshopFlexible and used for all kinds of graphics.
GIMPIt’s not as good as Photoshop for things like mockups, but it’s free.
Adobe InDesignThe current industry standard for print. Excellent control over typography and layout.
ScribusIt’s almost as good as InDesign for the unbeatable price of free.
MS Office PublisherCasual tool if you’re not a full-blown graphic designer.
SnagitScreen-capture tool that lets you add arrows, blurs and callouts.
Adobe IllustratorAn excellent program for creating clean illustrations for print or web, and even animations.
InkscapeA free program with a similar niche to Illustrator, but has poorer CMYK (print ink color) support. It’s better for creating SVG.
SketchShining paragon of UI/UX composition, but Mac-only requirement is limiting.
AxureHas advanced interaction capabilities for high-fidelity demos.
FigmaA free collaboration platform offered by Google.
Adobe XDSimilar to the above.
BalsamiqWireframe designer, low-fidelty and UX focused over UI.

📌 Business Process #

The stuff that you need to make your point (slide decks, demos).

Microsoft VisioFlowchart maker. Usually paid for by your company. / draw.ioFree and open-source chart maker.

A lot of people use MS Office PowerPoint / Google Slides to create flowcharts, since they have templates and can insert shapes, but they’re not as good as dedicated diagramming programs.

Aeon TimelineIf you’re a paralegal, you probably need something like this.
JIRAProduct development management used in a lot of enterprises.
TrelloA lighter version of JIRA.
AsanaSimilar to Trello.

Outlook #

If you’re entrenched in the Microsoft Windows ecosystem and use Outlook for email…

The Desktop Sticky Notes app syncs with the Notes section of your Outlook client. It’s pretty handy.

📽 Multimedia #

Typically Zoom, WebEx and conference software have an inbuilt recording feature, but for extra polish you may need additional programs.

Video Recording
OBS StudioOpen-source, for recording and streaming.
CamtasiaBeginner-friendly screen capture program.
KdenliveOpen-source, free video editor.
OliveAn up-and-coming video editor aimed at the professional market. Still in beta but usable.
Davinci ResolveProfessional-grade video editor made by Blackmagic Design with a free and pro version.
KIT ScenaristOpen-source script writing program.
CeltxScreenplay creation suite.