Technical Documentation
Best Practices

If you’re looking for information on how to write good user manuals,
online help, or other technical documentation,
you’ve come to the right place.

The Books

Do you need to write some clear, user-friendly technical documentation? But you don’t have time to spend on studying the theoretical backgrounds? So my books of the Technical Documentation Solutions Series can help you. These books provide you with the best practices you need to know when planning, designing, and writing technical documentation such as user manuals and online help. No long, boring theory but practical advice, lots of examples, and clear rules. Nothing but pure technical documentation best practices and technical writing best practices.

Take a look yourself: You can preview large sections of the books by clicking the cover images below.
(If you benefit from the books’ information, please be fair and buy a copy.)
(Click to preview)
Planning and Structuring User Assistance - How to organize user manuals, online help, and other forms of user assistance in a user-friendly, easily accessible way

Approx. 188 pages
ISBN 978-3-943860-04-7

Author: Marc Achtelig
(Click to preview)
Designing Templates and Formatting Documents - How to make user manuals and online help visually appealing and easy to read, and how to make templates efficient to use

Approx. 242 pages
ISBN 978-3-943860-06-1

Author: Marc Achtelig
(Click to preview)
Writing Plain Instructions - How to write user manuals, online help, and other forms of user assistance that every user understands

Approx. 366 pages
ISBN 978-3-943860-08-5

Author: Marc Achtelig
If you only have very little time to get ready for writing high-quality technical documentation, the book “Technical Documentation Basics” provides a summary of the most important best practices from the books listed above.
(Click to preview)
Technical Documentation Basics:
“How to Write That F***ing Manual” - The essentials of technical writing in a nutshell

Approx. 208 pages
ISBN 978-3-943860-00-9

Author: Marc Achtelig
Pricing and how to order

The books are available both as printed books and as ebooks.
You can find pricing and ordering information here.

The Companion

The Technical Writers’ Companion essentially is an electronic version and collection of the book series. When you are working on a document and need to look up a particular technical documentation best practice / technical writing best practice, the electronic version with its global index and search function is much faster than the printed books. Also the Companion is less expensive than buying all of the books.
Questions answered
Technical Documentation
What documents should you provide? Printed user manuals (PDF), online help (HTML), or both?

What sections should each of the documents contain? In which order?

What navigational aids can you provide to make sure that your readers actually find the valuable information that is hidden somewhere in your documents? (Let’s face it: Nobody is going to read your manual from start to finish.)
Technical Documentation
How should the layout of your documents look like? What paper size, screen size, colors, fonts, line length, line spacing, paragraph styles, character styles, table styles … should you set up?

What makes a design user-friendly so that readers can grasp and memorize the meaning of your texts easily?

What makes a document template author-friendly so that …
you can apply styles efficiently?
the layout process can be automated as much as possible?
… you can easily change styles at any time if you need to?
Technical Documentation
How can you write so that everyone understands what you mean?

How can you simplify topics, sections, sentences, and even single words?

Which terms should you use in technical documentation, and which terms should you avoid?

Frequent spelling and punctuation issues.
And much more …

But why don’t you take a look yourself? Here is a very liberal preview that lets you browse almost half of the content for free. (If you benefit from the information, please be fair and buy a license.)
Pricing and how to order

The price for a permanent license is €99.
You can buy a license here.

The Template

Setting up a template that both looks professional and works professional can be a lot of work―often several days. If you can use a good existing template as a starting point, things are a lot easier. The Starter Template for Word / OpenOffice / LibreOffice is exactly such a template.

Developed with a background of more than 20 years of experience in technical documentation, the Starter Template is a template that suits both the needs of the readers and the needs of the authors. For the readers: The design of the documentation template is very unobtrusive so that the readers can fully concentrate on the document’s content. For the authors: An advanced catalogue of styles makes formatting your content easy. Also, the styles are set up in a way so that you can easily adapt them according your specific requirements and according to your corporate identity if you need to.

Here are a few sample pages taken from the design guide that comes with the template. This design guide has been completely formatted with the help of the Starter Template (click the images to enlarge them):
Title page:
Legal info and table of contents:
Body text with paragraph and character styles:
Alphabetical index:
Pricing and how to order

The price for a permanent license is €19.
You can buy a license here.


If you don’t have the time to become an expert in technical communication yourself, I am happy to help you in person and to advise you on creating and enhancing user manuals, online help, and other forms of technical documentation and user assistance.

Often, my clients already have some first edition of their documentation. However, as the products have evolved, these documents need to be revised. In this case, I can analyze your existing documents and work out suggestions for improvement.

If needed, I can also implement the necessary changes, or I can assist you in doing so.

Other consulting projects focus on the technical side: If you are looking for authoring tools that streamline the production process of your technical documentation, I can advise you objectively without any interest in selling a particular tool. In particular, I have some long-standing expertise with help authoring tools and single source publishing solutions that create both printed user manuals (PDF) and online help (HTML, CHM) from the same, shared text base.

If needed, I can also set up the chosen tool for you, and I can create professional templates that communicate the document’s message clearly and are efficient to use for the authors.


Often, members of the development department or members of the marketing department are charged with writing technical documentation. While these persons are experts in their fields, they are not necessarily experts in technical writing. As a result, users often just don’t understand what these people are trying to say. Even worse: Often documents are so poorly structured that users don’t find the information although it might be there.

My trainings help you to make your texts clear and easy to read, and they help you to find a structure that takes the readers right to the information they need.

What’s covered within a particular training depends on your specific needs and on the prior experience of the participants. As the trainings typically are in-house trainings at your site, we can work hands-on with your individual documents, which makes the training very practical. Participants can take away concrete suggestions for improvement rather than just generic recommendations.

As an option, I can support you even after the training for some time. For example, I can provide some initial feedback on your work, and I can answer emerging questions.

About Me

My name is Marc Achtelig. For more than 20 years, my primary occupation has been designing and writing user manuals, online help, and other forms of user assistance. Since 2004, I am running my own consulting and technical documentation business.

In addition to my textbooks on technical documentation best practices and technical writing best practices, I frequently share my expertise in the form of trainings, conference presentations, and articles in trade journals. If you’re interested, you can find a full list of my publications here.

I am a member of tekom, the German and European professional organization for technical communication and information development.

By the way: I have degrees in engineering and economics, so when documenting complex products I understand what I am writing about. Well, at least most of the time ;-)
I am looking forward to hearing from you.

Marc Achtelig
Technical Communication Services

Goethestr. 24
90513 Zirndorf (near Nürnberg)

Phone:  +49 (0)911/60046-659
Fax:  +49 (0)911/60046-863