The Insider’s Guide to Technical Writing: Second Edition


by Krista Van Laan

Whether you are starting out as a technical writer or taking your skills to the next level, The Insider’s Guide to Technical Writing provides a comprehensive guide to the techniques you need to succeed in the technical writing field.


The first edition of Krista Van Laan’s popular The Insider’s Guide to Technical Writing has guided a generation of technical writers who are either starting out or seeking to take their skills to the next level. This classic has now been updated for the technical writer of today. Today’s tech writers truly are technical communicators, as they build information to be distributed in many forms.

Technical communication requires multiple skills, including an understanding of technology, writing ability, and great people skills. Wherever you are in your journey as a technical communicator, The Insider’s Guide to Technical Writing can help you be successful and build a satisfying career.

In 2001, Krista Van Laan published The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Technical Writing with Catherine Julian. The Insider’s Guide to Technical Writing, 2nd edition, is inspired by that book but is significantly re-written, extended, and brought up to date.


  • Is this the job for me? What does it take to be a technical writer and how do you get started?
  • Building the foundation: What skills do you need to get started? How do you get to know your audience and write in a way that works for them?
  • The best laid plans: How do you create a schedule that wont make you go crazy? How do you learn about the technology you will be writing about, handle the tools you need for the job, and manage the development process, including Agile methodologies?
  • On the job: What does it take to walk into a job and be productive right away?
  • The tech writer toolkit: How do you create style guides, indexes, templates, and layouts? How do you manage localization, translation, and all the other non-writing parts of the job?
  • I love my job: How do you handle the ups and downs of being a technical writer?
  • Appendixes: References to websites, books, and other resources to keep you learning.

About the Author

Krista Van Laan has worked in, managed, and built from the ground up multi-level Technical Publications and User Experience departments in high-tech companies in the United States and Europe. She is co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Technical Writing.

Praise for the first edition

“The book is a resounding success…. If you have ever wondered whether you might want to become a technical writer, wondered what a technical writer does, or you are a technical writer who knows there are gaps in your knowledge, buy and read this book.”
— Matthew Helmke, full review at Matthew Helmke (dot) Net

“The Insider’s Guide provides exactly the perspective that new technical writers need about teamwork, collaboration, responsibility, curiosity, and more.”
— JoAnn T. Hackos, PhD, President, Comtech Services Inc., From the Foreword

“An invaluable resource for anyone starting out in tech writing.”
— George Hayhoe, PhD, Mercer University School of Engineering

“I love it! … a quick and entertaining read that left me feeling inspired to get to work!”
— Kaylin Tristano, full review at


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