Technical documents deal with particular skills or practical knowledge, usually in a mechanical or scientific area. Examples of technical documents include academic and research papers, scientific articles, instruction or training manuals, and business reports. Most technical documents follow a clearly defined layout which is usually set by the academic institution, publisher, or business client.
When the layout is established or agreed upon, the project can go into the design stage. Many layouts are actually templates that have the required structure for publishing a particular technical document. This involves dividing the article or report into many different sections which come together to form the complete document.
Academic documents, such as a dissertation or thesis, are formal writings incorporating original research on a subject and presented by a student for a degree or other academic qualification. The specific layout will probably be decided by the college or academic institution. It may include some or all of the following sections: title, copyright, preface, acknowledgments, dedication, epigraph, table of contents, abstract, chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, etc, list of illustrations, list of tables, list of abbreviations, references, bibliography, glossary, appendix, thesis or dissertation approval sheet. It is very likely that only documents that are correctly formatted and presented will be accepted.
For scientific articles, the publishing journal will probably specify the overall layout structure. It may include the following sections: title, author(s), abstract, introduction, presentation of the case, discussion, conclusion, references, conflict of interest statement, and copyright. Authors may have to make declarations under the headings: conflict of interest, ethical approval, funding sources, and acknowledgments. The publishers may also specify that the article must not have been previously published and must not exceed a certain length. A publisher may not accept the article unless it meets the required standards, has the correct layout, has an acceptable language quality, and has content that is relevant to the journal’s readers.
Instruction or training manuals are used in many settings including homes and workplaces. These documents are essential for the correct installation and use of machinery and equipment. At the design stage, many questions will be asked such as who will use the instructions, what information should be included, and how much detail. They may include the title, table of contents, general warnings, safety warnings, purpose and description of the device, setup and operating instructions, maintenance, cleaning, troubleshooting, storage, and specifications.
Business documents and reports may have very different forms and purposes. They can provide valuable information to the company about various subjects such as financial standing, future direction, efficiency, competition, market share, and so on. The purpose is to provide management with factual information for planning and effective decision-making. Writing a business report will require detailed planning and research, writing the body section, conclusions, and recommendations. This will then require editing and, finally, proofreading.
Technical documents can be written in a variety of different formats. These include text, illustrations, tables, flow charts, etc. The document should be written using concise sentences in a clear, simple, accurate, and logical format so that the message is clear and easily understood. The various steps should be outlined in short simple steps and in the order that they are performed. This is particularly important for specialized content or where the reader’s language skills are not very good.
Proofreading technical documents requires more than using a spelling and grammar check and then checking for consistency, layout, and style. In addition, the proofreader may need to check facts, dates, numbers, etc. If the document is well-written, it may only require straightforward proofreading. But, if the document is not well-written or is confusing, it may require editing as well as proofreading before it is ready for public viewing.