Book Review. Modern Technical Writing: An Introduction to Software Documentation, by Andrew Etter

by Scott Wilson on December 12, 2016

Part One: The Book

Modern Technical Writing is available on Amazon. Very reasonably priced. Search “Andrew Etter Amazon” using a web browser and you should have no problem finding it.

Modern Technical Writing, for me, is really two books. One part of the book is the author’s take on technical writing best practices. The other part is a relatively deep dive into recent developments in technical writing (most popular in software documentation and in and around Silicon Valley).

Personal opinion: I don’t think the author sees these two things as being separate. I didn’t ask him, so I could be completely wrong, but I think that, for him, it’s all just part of his technical writing experience. It’s my gray-haired perspective, er my years of experience, that takes note of the fact that discussions over technical writing best practices have been around forever, whereas the recent developments are, well, you know, recent.

Note: If you have been a technical writer for more than 10 years, don’t let the semi-insulting Introduction make you stop reading. For the record, I love my PDFs! The tone doesn’t continue, and the rest of the book is well worth it.

I think you’ll benefit more from the book if I don’t poison your outlook by providing my thoughts on either the author’s take on specific technical writing best practices or the recent developments in technical writing he mentions, so I’m saving those for Part Three of this series.

Nevertheless, if you plan on being a technical writer in the future, I highly recommend reading this book. It’s especially urgent if you are writing about software. The technical writing world is at least partially changing and if you’ve fallen behind, this book can help you get caught up.

Part Two of this series covers the talk I attended where the speaker was none other than Andrew Etter, the author of Modern Technical Writing.

Part Three covers my thoughts on both the author’s take on some of the technical writing best practices and on some of the recent developments in software technical writing that he mentions.

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