Writing Support for Technical Documentation
My technical writing evolves in several steps with clearly defined deliverables, timeline and charges. I expect each step to take one week of turn-around time. If the final authors require a faster response, I will accommodate their request against a surcharge. The final authors will be responsible for their own and all formal reviews and corrections of my writing. They also are responsible for submitting the document to the publisher of their choice.
The Steps of Technical Documentation
My contract writing of any technical document evolves in four distinct steps.
Step 1: Interview with the Lead Author, Abstract and Top-Level Outline
As a first step, I will meet with the lead author or the initial author for an in-depth interview about the intended document. The lead author presents the topic for the document and the intended content. Then together, we will answer several basic questions:
- Who are the readers of this document? Which audience is targeted?
- What is the key message that the document shall deliver
- What shall the readers learn and remember from the document?
- Who may be other, unintended readers, such as competitors?
- What potentially sensitive information shall be kept from unintended readers?
- Who are the co-authors and what do they contribute to the writing?
- What is the deadline? What is the review schedule?
After this interview, I will prepare a draft for a short abstract, a draft for an expanded abstract, typically with 250 to 400 words, and a proposal for the top-level outline, corresponding to the sections of the document. The top-level outline will ultimately become the table of contents. I will deliver these items to the lead author for review and corrections within one week of the interview.
Step 2: Interview with Contributing Authors and Second-Level Outline
The second step involves the lead author and the contributing authors, if any. They provide their changes to the top-level outline. I will meet them for a detailed interview about the content of their respective sections. On this occasion, the contributing authors shall identify the figures or formulas that they intend to include in the document. They may provide these figures or formulas at their convenience later during the writing. The authors also shall determine the order of writing their sections.
After this interview, I will prepare a draft for a short abstract, a draft for an expanded abstract, typically with 250 to 400 words, and a proposal for the top-level outline, corresponding to the sections of the document. The top-level outline will ultimately become the table of contents.
I will deliver the second-level outline to the lead author within one week of the interview. The lead author is responsible for distributing the outline to the coauthors. They then review and correct the second-level outline to better reflect the flow of their ideas and their documentation plans. The co-authors may indicate whether they want to write the first draft of their section themselves or if they prefer that I write this first draft.
Step 3: Writing Each Section
The third step constitutes the actual writing, one section at a time. I will write the sections in the order requested by the authors. However, I will write the introduction only at the end, once all other sections are written as first draft. I use the items from the second-level outline as subheaders on the paragraphs to facilitate the authors’ review and editing. I will insert figures and formulas in the text, as far as the authors have provided them; however, I will not prepare any figure myself.
Each section will be one to two pages long. I will deliver the first draft in reasonably mature form to the lead author and the appropriate co-author at a rate of one section per week. All co-authors are then responsible to review and correct this first draft and to adapt it to their personal style. They also may add figures or formulas that they had not delivered previously.
Step 4: Assembling the Final Document
The fourth and final step is the integration and assembly of the final document. This step ensures that the document is consistent in style and content for all co-authors. This step may also involve moving the final document to a publication-specific template.
I offer my support for writing technical documents as first draft. I am breaking down the workload of writing the document into several steps, which the authors may accept to the extent that they want. Together with good-quality English writing, I provide in-depth knowledge and understanding of the scientific and technological content of the technical document. In this context, I will offer suggestions and recommendations for correction of the technical content as needed. I also may recommend moving very technical parts of the document to appropriate appendices.
Each step of writing the first draft of the document requires a one-week turn-around time. Whenever the authors may require faster turn-around time to meet some deadline, I will accommodate them at a surcharge, which we will negotiate on a case-by-case basis.
Furthermore, I offer to integrate the sections into a coherent document. Then I also may translate the documents into French or German for a 50% surcharge of the total price for either language. This option allows the authors to communicate with their readers and customers in their own language.
As support writer of content, I will relinquish all rights and responsibilities of the writing at hand to the final authors. All rights and responsibilities, such as copyright or confidentiality rights, rest with the lead author or with whomever the lead author designates.