TechComm 101

Leah Guren, Owner/Operator, Cow TC


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Technical communication is an exciting and challenging career that offers unlimited opportunity for professional development. But to succeed, it's not enough to learn a desktop publishing or Help Authoring Tool—you need to master the analysis process. This is a thinking person's dream career!

TechComm 101 is the fastest, most efficient way to jump-start your career in technical communication. It covers key theory that you can immediately apply to your work, as well as giving you the skills you need to continue to learn and grow.

Each element of theory is presented with hands-on exercises, real-world examples, and plenty of discussion. The course is sure to leave you feeling enthusiastic and well-prepared to get started in the field.

Learning Objectives
  • Understand the role of the technical communicator.
  • Identify how TC writing differs from other kinds of writing.
  • Correct common mistakes in writing.
  • Master the correct writing style for TC.
  • Be able to target your audience.
  • Recognize and treat hazards in documentation.
  • Learn and apply key theory for TC work.
  • Write effective definitions and procedures.
  • Develop visual design skills.
  • Identify the purpose and key elements of main TC documentation types.
Sessions and Work Requirements
  • Seven weekly 90-minute online lectures
  • Weekly homework assignments
  • Final exam
Intended Audience
  • Anyone new to the field.
  • Anyone working in the field without formal training.
  • Professionals returning to writing positions after a hiatus.

Remember: Currently, our courses are not "go at your own pace." You should plan to attend and participate in the majority of the live sessions at the designated times.

Session Descriptions

Session 1—Introduction and Grammar Review

This session will provide an overview of the role of technical communicators in a company. Learn how technical communication differs from other forms of writing. Discover how to avoid mistakes that can detract from documentation and review grammar and punctuation issues.

Session 2—Four Key TC Concepts (Theory and Application)

The following four key concepts to technical communication will be covered:

  • Know Your Audience: Conducting audience analysis and key techniques for discovering your target audience.
  • Highlight Hazards: Protecting users and the company through effective cautions and warnings.
  • Break It Out: Using design and layout to help communicate information in a document.
  • Don't Write Blind: Learning to ask the right questions and analyze information; learning the product and process yourself.
Session 3—Five Key TC Concepts (Theory and Application)

The following five key concepts to technical communication will be covered:

  • Be Consistent: Understanding how consistency helps users follow documentation more easily.
  • Signpost: Making information accessible within the document.
  • Don't Violate Standards: Analyzing standards and applying them.
  • Contemplate Before You Illustrate: Adding graphics that help rather than confuse; a review of the basic rules.
  • Cut the Fluff: Trimming the unnecessary words out of documents to make them more useful.
Session 4—TC Deliverables and Writing Definitions

Understand the functional purpose, key elements, and deliverables associated with the most common types of TC projects: user guides, installation guides, maintenance manuals, reference manuals, tutorials, specs, white papers, release notes, and online Help. Learning how to define technical terms is important.

Session 5—Writing Procedures

In this session you will learn how to write task-based documentation (step-by-step procedures), which is an essential core skill.

Session 6—Design and Layout

Design good documents by understanding the basics of layout: fonts, paragraphs, white space, chunking, plumb lines, visual hierarchies, nesting, and mating.

Session 7—Editing and Moving On

Discover how to write with clarity, avoid ambiguity, and be proactive in flagging suspicious data to produce better documents. This session will assist in the preparation for an ongoing learning experience in your new career.

Presenter Biography

Leah Guren entered the field of technical communication in 1980. Her experience as a writer, editor, tech pubs manager, and consultant allowed her to develop a variety of technical communication training programs. Leah trains new writers for this field, as well as conducting seminars and in-house training for TCs of all levels, engineers, and managers. Her clients include many of the top high-tech companies in Israel.

Leah is best known for her ability to bring dry theory to life, illustrating rules with real-life examples and providing clear, practical guidelines which can be applied by writers of all levels and experience. An Associate Fellow with STC, Leah is a regular speaker at STC and other international technical communication conferences, and has served on STC's Board of Directors. For more information, see Cow TC ( or contact Leah.

What They're Saying

"If you're new to STC, or the technical communication field, this is a GREAT place to start! As a new technical communicator, Leah provides you a list of rules to follow to be successful in the field. If you're a veteran, this course is a great way to catch up on the new standards of technical communication. It's a terrific course for any STC member."

"I just wanted to thank you for what you have provided to me and the other students. Your lessons have started me on the right path and given me a wealth of information to work with as I aspire to become a professional technical communicator. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your efforts."

"Thanks for a great course!  I have nothing but great things to say about it and about [Leah's] instruction. ... I found [her] handling of a lively bunch of student questions to be on point, well formulated, and therefor confident and reliable. Excellent!"

"I have learned an amazing amount in this course. I feel like I've grown a great deal too. This course has challenged me in many ways and has made me look at writing so differently. I feel that I have a strong foundation on which to build, thanks to Leah's instruction and all the advice and links that she has shared."

"I wanted to thank you for a great experience with my first STC class. Leah is a great instructor and I really enjoyed my classes and assignments. This course has made me realize that I do quite enjoy being a technical communicator!"

"Many thanks for an outstanding course. Your experience and passion for the subject matter shines through and actually makes the course."

"Thank you again for offering the TechComm 101 course. I truly enjoyed the course and learned much more than I expected. I am now much more excited about my new career in technical communication and hope to cross paths with you sometime in the future."

"Thank you for teaching this course. It is precisely what I needed at exactly the right time."

"I learned tons from the sessions. See you in TechComm 201!"

"The course was well-designed, and it was a pleasure to take it. It's all the better when the instructor has so much experience in the field to draw on."

"I'm finding the class to be very informative and helpful. You're covering all the topics that apply to my current position. The homework assignments challenge me, reinforce key concepts, and stretch my thought process."

"What I learned in your course will definitely impact my ability to meet expectations in my new role at work."

"I learned a lot and came away with so many new ideas that I’m still in the process of trying to think through them all. Thanks so much for a great experience!"

"I wanted to again thank you for two very good and informative classes through STC [TechComm 101 and 201]. I now feel better armed to enter the TC industry!"

"I've been applying what I've learned in our class for my one-and-only client and they are very pleased. I've been a part-time medical technical communication consultant for nine months, and they now want to hire me full time! I'll be coordinating all med device product labeling creation, revision, and translation. ... Thank you for all great lessons learned so far!"