Technical Writing and Editing

As a technical communicator, your ultimate goal is to produce the most effective and usable documentation for your audience. To achieve your goal, you’ll need to understand how to structure and organize user-centric technical documentation using standard components and how to write well, using plain and concise language. No one writes a perfect first draft, so you’ll also learn how to edit technical documentation, and how to use a style guide to facilitate consistency.

Through reading, discussions and homework, you will create a how-to manual, practising techniques for creating concise and functional documentation that will work well in print or online. Throughout the course, you will complete assignments, contribute to class forum discussions and edit a classmate’s project while yours is being edited.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Online - Felicia Rubright $525.00 7 Register
Online - - TBD $525.00 20 Register
Online - Felicia Rubright $525.00 24 Register
Online - - TBD $525.00 25 Register
Online - - TBD $525.00 25 Register

Instructional hours: 15

Schedule clarification: This course begins on the first date listed and ends six days after the last date listed. Between those times, you work at your own pace within the timelines set by the instructor.

What will I learn?

By the end of the course, you will be able to do the following:

  • Describe what technical writers do and what skills they need
  • Define types of technical documentation
  • Identify document parts and elements and how to use them to structure your document for clarity and flow
  • Describe and practice using the tools of the trade, such as style guides and templates
  • Write clear and concise online and print documents
  • Describe the different types of edits and style guides, practice editing and create your own personal editing style guide

How will I learn?

Prepare to spend six to 10 hours per week on coursework, including:
  • Weekly course modules accessed through Canvas
  • Online research
  • Module readings
  • Online forum discussions (posting to forums and responding to other students' posts)
  • Exercises, assignments and a quiz
  • Partnered editing project

Course materials will be available 24/7, and assignment deadlines will be posted well in advance, allowing you to set your own pace for learning.

English language requirements

To succeed in this course, you will need an advanced level of written and spoken English. If you are unsure whether your English language skills are sufficient, we recommend you complete the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with the following minimums:

  • Overall band score minimum 6.5
  • No band below 6.0
  • Writing band score minimum 8.0

Please note we can’t refund your registration fees after the course start date if you find your English language skills are not adequate.

If you have questions or concerns about your English language proficiency, we encourage you to contact your local IELTS Test Centre.

How will I be evaluated?

  • Course assignment (creating a how-to guide)
  • Participation in discussions
  • Editing your partner’s guide and creating a joint report on the experience
  • Quiz

Textbooks and learning materials

Recommended text:

The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed, (or later): 2010. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226104201

Note: Courses use the author-date style from the Chicago/Turabian (17th ed.) citation guide.

Once you begin the course you'll be sent SFU library access information for this text. Alternatively, you may wish to download a 30-day free trial of the online version of Chicago Manual of Style

All other course materials are available online, including a Microsoft Word template, which is available for download. The template contains the recommended styles for the course assignment.

Technical requirements

To get the most out of this online course, we strongly recommend being comfortable with the following word processor (Microsoft Word, Google Docs) functions:

Hardware and software requirements

  • Microsoft Word or other word processing software that can create PDF files
  • High-speed internet access
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader

We deliver this course using SFU's online course management system, Canvas. You will receive course details and Canvas access instructions on the first day of the course. You can check if your browser is compatible with Canvas here.

New to online learning? See About Online Learning for helpful videos and additional information.