How to Create a Professional Technical Document—Part 1

A technical document is the result of creating effective technical user information. It either explains how something works or how to use it. It may mean different things to people in different roles. You may need such documentation to onboard new hires, explain new features or as a reference for people not versed in technology.

How to Create a Professional Technical Document—Part 1

Writing a technical document needs a number of tools—a screenshot app, an image editor, a word processor for writing instruction and tools for sharing the document.

Although this is the best protocol for making a technical document, it doesn’t seem right when you lack time or have to periodically update them.

In this two-part tutorial I’ll show you how to useClarifyto create simple and professional technical documents.

  • Configure the app to reap maximum benefits.
  • Create an in-depth tutorial with multiple steps, images, and text.
  • Share the document with other people or web.

Reasons to Choose Clarify

  1. Clarify is a cross-platform application available for bothWindowsandMaccomputers. It is compatible with versions fromWindows Vista to 10 and OS X 10.7 Lion to 10.11 El Capitan and macOS 10.12 Sierra
  2. It lets you create technical document in small chunks and explain them in a step-by-step manner. You can add images, annotate them with visual tools and add text to explain the steps
  3. It has an in-built integration of tools to let you share the document over web, email and evernote. You can also save them as a PDF, HTML, and a Word document
  4. It lets you create custom HTML and PDF template, so you can focus on the task of creating a technical document and not worry about logos, fonts, colours, header and footer, page breaks and more

Configuring Clarify

Clarify gives you few options to set the technical document as per your needs. Go toClarify > Preferences.

You’ll see three preferences: General, Share, and PDF Templates. Each preferences lets you configure multiple parameters.

General Settings

How to Create a Professional Technical Document—Part 1

Configure the hotkeys for taking screenshots. To change the hotkey, clickRemoveand type in the new hotkey. If you prefer big canvas to write your technical documents, toggleDocument editor text sizefrom small to large.

Clarify lets you customize the image settings, the way you want. Select the export format as PNG or JPEG (Good, Better, Best). You can automatically generate ALT tags for the images or automatically scale the images, both width and height, as per the style guide.

Share

How to Create a Professional Technical Document—Part 1

Clarify offers a number of different ways to share the documents created. You can export to clarify-it.com so others can view documents. You can export the document to the custom WordPress blog or .com blog or save them as a PDF, HTML, or a Worddocument.

PDF Templates

Clarify comes with four basic templates: Basic, Black and White, Chrome, and Corporate.

If you’ve some specific needs then you can create your own PDF template. Click the+button to create a new custom template.

How to Create a Professional Technical Document—Part 1

In theGeneraltab, customise page size and margins, image alignment, content flow settings and more. When generating a PDF document, Clarifyadds page breaks in certain locations. Although Clarify tries to keep step content together, you can configure them.

Click theContent Flowmenu to configure page break settings. ChooseOne step per pageto add a page break after each step.

ChooseFit as content as possible per pageto put as much content on the page as it can. Use CSS to further control over page breaks.

In the header field you can add aLogoand customise a few more variables. You canadd variableslike

  • [[Document Title]] — The name of the document
  • [[File_Name]] — The name of the PDF file
  • [[Date]] — The date in the format that your system use
  • [[MM/DD/YYYY]] — Month, day and year

In the footer field you can add page numbers and footer text. You can add variables like

  • [[Page_Number]] — The page number
  • [[Page_Count]] — The total number of pages

How to Create a Professional Technical Document—Part 1

In theFonts & Colorstab, set default font, font size and colour for header and footer, article description, step title, and substep title. If you don’t set a font for a particular object, then it will use theDefault Font.

How to Create a Professional Technical Document—Part 1

TheCustom CSStab lets you make adjustments to elements that aren’t available in the user interface. PDF templates in the Clarify works on the principle of HTML and CSS. If you’ve a knowledge of both, then you can add manyvariables to PDF template. For instance

.step-container (page-break-after: always)

This CSS tells the PDF generator to always add a page break after a step. You can also add specific font styling to your PDF document by adding specific CSS classes in the document.

.step-title (font-style: italic;font-weight: lighter;)

Some of the classes you can use arearticle-description,step-title,step-container,sub-step,andstep-instructions. At each step you can clickPreviewto see the final output of the PDF template.

Conclusion

Clarify is a native app for Windows and Mac to create technical documents. It lets you create templates so you can focus on creating a technical document without fuss and managing multiple apps — screen capture tool, word processor, and sharing tools.

In this tutorial, I have shown you how to configure Clarify app to reap maximum benefits and how to setup templates.

In the next tutorial, I’ll give a step-by-step procedure for creating a technical document. The app includes a 14-day trial and is available for $29.99. See thepricing detailsfor more information.