Writing your first technical learning book can feel like a particularly daunting task. If you’ve never written before, or lack the experience of teaching technical content to others then you’re in luck. We’ve developed 10 top tips for you to follow when writing to help you structure your book and ensure that your title is easy to read and comprehensible to readers.
Use gerund verbs in your headings
Ensure that your heading titles are clearly indicative of what the reader will do/achieve in that section. The best way to do this is to use a gerund verb such as ‘creating’ or ‘implementing’. This way, the reader knows exactly what to expect. If you would like to learn more about gerund verbs then you can find out more about them here: https://www.gingersoftware.com/content/grammar-rules/verbs/gerunds-and-infinitives/
Write in an active voice
Always try to write in the active voice. You can read more about this here: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/englishgrammar-reference/active-and-passive-voice
Don’t refer to color
Avoid referring to colors in images. Most technical books are printed in grayscale, so hanging your point on a reference to the color of a key, for example, will not translate to the reader.
Explain the purpose of tasks
Always remember to explain the purpose of tasks and reinforce the value of your point to your reader. For example, ‘I’m writing an email to you. This email consists of my top tips for writing a technical book. This will allow you to write your chapters much easier as you will have an insight into what makes a great book.’ Here, I have related the information back to why this is useful to you. Keep this in mind for your readers, too. In the above example, notice I referred to you as ‘you’ rather than ‘the author’? Using a direct address allows you to feel much more personally involved in what I’m saying to you. In your chapters, directly address your reader instead of calling them ‘the reader’.
Start chapters with introductions
Good introductions state what we are going to explore, what lessons/skills the reader will gain, what topics we will cover, and why this is useful to the reader’s real-world experiences and progress in the book itself.
Finish chapters with summaries
Good summaries reflect on what we’ve covered, what we learned/what skills we gained, how those skills and lessons will become useful, what we will cover in the next chapter, and how this topic will help us moving forward.
Provide context to new sections
Maintain logical flow in your chapters by creating links between sections. Ask yourself: why does this section come next?
Use lead-in sentences
When including images, code, tables, and links, ensure that you use a lead-in sentence which explains what we are looking at.
Use follow-up sentences
After including images, code, and tables, a follow-up sentence is necessary. This should explain what the figure showed us and elaborate on its purpose before moving on.
Use numbered lists
Instructional content should appear in numbered lists wherever possible.