Navigating Technical Writing in AEC for Non-Technical Individuals: Insights from 20 Years of Experience


Greetings, fellow non-technical writers stepping into the world of AEC! I understand the challenges you may face, but fear not—I’ve been in your shoes for over three decades. As someone who started without any technical background, I can assure you that mastering technical writing in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) field is well within any new marketer’s abilities. In this article, I'll share my lessons learned and insights to help you excel in this domain.


1. Cultivate a Curious Mindset and Research Diligently


Embrace your curiosity, for it is the gateway to success in AEC technical writing. Learn to love exploring new concepts, terminology, and jargon. Immerse yourself in research through reliable sources such as academic papers, industry publications, and in-depth books. Twenty years down the line, I can attest that the more you delve into AEC, the more confidence you'll gain in your writing.


2. Collaborate and Network with Technical Experts


Throughout my journey, collaboration with technical experts has been a game-changer. Engage in meaningful discussions with architects, engineers, and construction professionals. Their expertise will not only demystify complex technicalities but also infuse depth into your writing. Remember, fostering relationships and building a network of knowledgeable individuals will serve you well throughout your career.


3. Simplify Complexity with a Touch of Artistry


Contrary to popular belief, AEC technical writing is not about showcasing jargon or technical prowess. Instead, embrace the art of simplicity. Your readers may not have a technical background, so make your content accessible to them. Over the years, I've found that a judicious use of analogies, real-world examples, and relatable language can transform intricate concepts into easily digestible nuggets of knowledge.


4. Write, Rewrite, and then Write Some More


The most invaluable piece of advice I can offer is to write regularly and consistently. The journey of improvement is paved with practice. Don't be afraid to experiment with different writing styles and formats. Begin with simple explanations and gradually tackle more complex topics. Even after thirty years, I continue to dedicate time to honing my craft—it’s a never-ending process.


5. Learn from the Masters: Analyze Technical Writing Samples


Analyzing well-crafted AEC technical writing samples is akin to a masterclass. Throughout my career, I've studied documents from experienced professionals to understand how they present information effectively. Observe their structure, use of visuals, and the way they tailor their content to the intended audience. You'll glean essential lessons that textbooks might not impart.


6. Harness the Power of Visuals


Visuals are a potent tool in your technical writing arsenal. From illustrations and diagrams to infographics, they can illuminate complex ideas like nothing else. Over the years, I've learned to collaborate closely with skilled designers or rely on graphic design tools to create visuals that complement my writing and enrich the reader's experience.


7. Embrace Feedback and Never Stop Growing


As you embark on this journey, welcome feedback with open arms. Seek critiques from experts and colleagues. Constructive criticism fuels growth and serves as a roadmap to improvement. Two decades have taught me that the willingness to learn from others and continuously evolve is the hallmark of a remarkable AEC technical writer.


Take heart in the knowledge that your lack of technical background can be an advantage rather than a hindrance. Embrace curiosity, collaborate with experts, simplify complexity, practice relentlessly, and learn from the masters. You have the potential to become a stellar AEC technical writer. Now, seize the opportunity and embark on a journey that blends the realms of technical expertise and compelling communication!


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About The Author

Keri Hammond, FSMPS, CPSM

Keri is a long-standing trailblazer in the Utah AEC industry. Clients appreciate her ability to get things done – they know she does whatever it takes, with integrity, to help them build their business. Keri is known for her leadership and diplomacy; she motivates others with positivity, trust, and unwavering support.

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