Methods used by Warthman Associates in writing technical documents


How We Write a
Technical Document


Project Organization

Projects typically begin with the signing a nondisclosure agreement and meetings or conference calls to assemble source documents. We then develop a working outline.

The timeline above represents a typical large project (several hundred pages). Our working time appears in red. Your review time appears in green. The sum of the red areas represents our total working time. The entire width of the timeline represents the project's total elapsed time. Draft 1 usually occupies the large majority of time and work—sometimes more than 90% of the total. The remaining drafts can usually be completed quickly after return of Draft 1 comments.

Each draft typically looks like a final draft, with professional formatting and figures. You own the copyright to all drafts.

Start Small

We can start on a small part of your project and show you the result. This will let you experience the quality, pace, and style of our work before we proceed with larger parts of your project.

Information Sources

Document content is assembled from many sources, including engineering specifications, interviews with your product designers, patents, industry standards and journals, articles and documents on current and prior art, Internet websites, and our existing knowledge of your technology. If applicable, we may also use your product to experience it the same way your customers experience it. We try to anticipate, and answer, the questions your customers will have.

We normally begin by reading your engineering specifications. In doing this, we not only gain an understanding of your product but we also identify inconsistencies and missing parts in your specifications. We generate notes that form the basis for interviews and the beginning of our writing.

We conduct interviews with your product architects, circuit and software developers, and product managers. We follow up with questions by email and telephone.


When we understand your product and your customers' needs, we begin writing and illustrating. During the writing, we focus on clear organization, accuracy, consistency of terminology, and completeness.

We write using industry-standard terms, so that readers who have learned English as a second language can understand it quickly. We create tables and cross-references that help readers random-access into the content quickly. And we observe laws protecting trademarks and copyrights.

We use editing tools including Word, FrameMaker, XML, and PowerPoint for writing. We use graphics tools including Visio, Illustrator, and PowerPoint for illustration. We save drafts in Adobe Reader or Acrobat for internal review and posting on your website.