Last Updated on January 18, 2023
This online course is 6 weeks long, followed by a 2-week period to complete the final exam (online, open book). Lessons are released on Wednesdays and Fridays of each week. You are not required to be online at any specific time. You register and pay on our website and instructions on how to access your course will be emailed to you immediately after registration.
The actual time commitment involved in completing any given lesson can vary significantly based on a number of factors including reading speed, familiarity with the topic, related experience, the amount of time spent completing optional assignments, and involvement with discussion board. For planning purposes we suggest setting aside 1 hour per lesson as a starting point.
Fundamentals of Technical Writing
$190 + applicable tax
Do you have a knack for explaining complex subjects in a way that makes them easy to understand? If so, you should consider entering the well-paying field of technical writing. This course will teach you the skills you need to succeed as a technical writer. You will learn how to translate complex information into easily understood language, and how to become a wizard at marrying the art of publishing with the science of technology. You’ll learn the secrets of successful technical writers, including technical writing conventions, interviewing skills, desktop publishing and formatting techniques, key tips for developing graphics and templates, documentation management, and how to publish documents both on paper and electronically. You’ll also learn how to get your first job as a technical writer, plus tricks of the trade that enable you to create high-quality documentation with less work.
Week 1 Wednesday – Lesson 1
Technical Writing Overview
Technical writing is a relatively new profession, but people have been writing technical documents for centuries. In our first lesson, you’ll learn the fascinating history of technical writing, plus how the instructor (and many others) became technical writers and how technical writing employs both the logical and creative sides of your brain.
Week 1 Friday – Lesson 2
Preparing to Write
Technical writing requires preparation. In this lesson, you’ll learn the basics of project management for your documentation project (including average amounts of time you should dedicate to different writing activities), key questions to help you analyze your reading audience, and how to organize the information you gather.
Week 2 Wednesday – Lesson 3
In today’s lesson, you’ll learn powerful communication skills that will help you get the information you need. You’ll find out how to develop your listening skills and use body language that keeps you alert and encourages the people you’re interviewing to talk with you. You’ll also learn how to ask questions that help you get the answers you need more efficiently, and how to apply principles of adult learning when you’re analyzing the information you’ve gathered.
Week 2 Friday – Lesson 4
Do you ever get writer’s block? Most writers do! Today you’ll learn how to shut off your internal editor and give yourself permission to write your first draft more quickly and easily. You’ll learn tips that will help you keep writing even when you realize you don’t have all of the information you need, plus you’ll have more confidence after you finish the grammar and punctuation review in this lesson, which includes tips about how to make your writing more interesting.
Week 3 Wednesday – Lesson 5
Tech Writing Conventions
Every profession has rules and conventions that separate the novices from the pros. In this lesson, you’ll learn all about time-honored technical writing conventions, such as using parallel structure, an inverted pyramid style of writing, effective headings, and lists.
Week 3 Friday – Lesson 6
Should you save your graphics as bitmaps, gifs, or jpgs? In this lesson, we’ll go over the difference between the most popular graphics file formats and guidelines for using each. You’ll also learn about a new file format called PNG, and how to create screenshots on your PC, then manipulate your shots in Windows’ Paint, saving you the expense of far more costly graphics programs.
Week 4 Wednesday – Lesson 7
Formatting your document can be critical to its success. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to choose the typeface or typefaces you want to use and principles for using type effectively in your document. You’ll learn about the things you need to keep in mind when laying out your pages. We’ll take a look at some layouts that are commonly used in technical documents, then we’ll discuss how to achieve those layouts using Microsoft Word.
Week 4 Friday – Lesson 8
Microsoft Word’s Paragraph Styles
Microsoft Word has nearly a 93% market share for PC-based word processing, and it’s the de facto standard for most corporations and government agencies. Chances are high that you’ll use it at some time in your technical writing career. In fact, most companies require that you be proficient with Word when considering you for technical writing positions. So in this lesson, you’ll learn how Microsoft Word is different from other word-processing applications and how to use, modify, and create Word’s paragraph styles.
Week 5 Wednesday – Lesson 9
When companies use Microsoft Word for their documentation, they expect you to know how to use and create Word templates. In this lesson, you’ll learn quick ways to build templates, plus you’ll learn some Word skills that will help you dazzle potential employers, such as recording macros, customizing your toolbar, and using cross-references, AutoText, and captions.
Week 5 Friday – Lesson 10
Did you know that indexes are the most widely read section in any technical document? In today’s lesson, we’ll review indexing conventions, and I’ll provide a few tips on building a great index for your document. You’ll also learn how to use Microsoft Word to make indexing a bit easier.
Week 6 Wednesday – Lesson 11
Editing and Proofreading
To polish your document and make it the best it can be, you need to proofread it and edit it. In today’s lesson, you’ll learn tips from professional proofreaders and editors, as well as ways you can use Microsoft Word to help you check your spelling and grammar.
Week 6 Friday – Lesson 12
Publishing Your Document
Publishing your document is an exciting time. All of your hard work is almost done—or is it? In our final lesson, you’ll learn about different printing options and trends in publishing. We’ll also explore ways you can use your technical writing skills in the job market, a four-step plan for getting your first job, and some ideas about freelancing. Questions are always encouraged!
This course is fully online, you require internet access and an email account. The course duration is 6 weeks, followed by a 2-week period to complete the final exam (online, open book). Lessons are released on Wednesdays and Fridays of each week, for a total of 12. You are not required to be online at any specific time.
In addition to the specific lesson content, there is a discussion board with each lesson and often there is an optional assignment to apply the learning.
Following each lesson, there is a short multiple choice quiz. Your score on these quizzes does not count towards the final mark but completing these helps solidify your learning as well as prepare you for the final exam.
The final exam is an open-book, multiple choice exam and you need to achieve a minimum of 65% on the final exam to pass the course. There is only one opportunity to pass the exam. A certificate of completion from Ed2Go is available for printing immediately upon successful completion of the course and a certificate from the University of Waterloo will be emailed typically 1-2 weeks later.
Many of the Ed2Go courses are eligible towards the various online certificates offered by Professional Development.