The world we live in feels normal, ordinary even. It feels like this is how humans have existed for eternity. But it’s not. The modern homo-sapiens (that means us!) have existed for roughly 3 lakh years, a small number compared to our beloved planet’s age (4.54 billion years!).

It’s astounding that the typewriter was invented just 155 years ago, and about a century later, the internet emerged. Given the rapid pace at which humanity has progressed and persevered, one would think that the signs were always there for Artificial Intelligence to present itself in some shape or form in the modern era. A world carefully engineered to satisfy even the most frivolous need one could have. And yet, it felt as if the world had stopped when OpenAI revealed its latest creation to the world. 

The ease with which ChatGPT solves day-to-day problems and helps people with their daily work has been nothing short of a miracle. It knows everything from deciphering complex code to delivering a good diet plan for your gut microbiome! It’s almost amusing to consider that we have such potent technology readily accessible, especially when you remember that touchscreen phones only became widespread about a decade ago! 

So, how far can we go with using ChatGPT for technical writing? What role can AI play in  the world of documentation? Mind you, documentation has also come a long way since Margaret Hamilton and her team wrote 145,000 lines of code by hand on large sheets of paper for the Apollo 11 Space Program in 1969 (the same year we got the internet!).

More with Less!

The greatest selling point of an AI Chatbot like ChatGPT is the ease of use. You ask it a simple query (which could basically be anything!) and just like an all-knowing, all-seeing guru, it will scour the depths of the internet and curate answers most suited to satisfy your questions. 

Asking the Right Questions

The trick is to ask the right questions (with as many details as you can add) if you want a satisfactory response. To maximize interactions with AI language models like ChatGPT, specificity, and context are essential. Clear and specific queries guide the AI to appropriate responses, while contextual details help it understand your request better. Additionally, clarifying ambiguous terms reduces misunderstandings. AI models don’t infer assumptions from sparse data, hence being explicit is advantageous. Decomposing complex inquiries into detailed questions also aids comprehension. Despite ChatGPT’s vast data access, it lacks human-like reasoning, and thus some queries may not yield wholly satisfactory answers. Therefore, when using ChatGPT, be precise, contextual, explicit, and strategic with complex questions, and adjust your expectations for optimal responses.

As a writer, how can I leverage this ingenuity for my cause? Well, I figured I’d pose this very question to ChatGPT itself! And so, I asked, “How can you help me with Technical Documentation?” 

And here’s the response:

As an AI developed by OpenAI, I can assist with a wide range of tasks related to technical documentation, such as:

  1. Drafting: I can help generate first drafts of your technical documentation based on the information and guidelines you provide. 
  2. Editing: If you have existing technical documentation that you need to refine or rewrite for clarity, I can assist with that. 
  3. Formatting: I can provide guidance on best practices for technical documentation formatting, including the use of headers, bullet points, diagrams, and more.
  4. Explaining Technical Concepts: I can help break down complex technical concepts into simpler language, making your documentation more accessible to non-technical audiences.
  5. Consistency Checking: I can help check your technical documents for consistency in terms of terminology, style, and tone.
  6. Code Documentation: If you’re working on a software project, I can help write comments and documentation for your code, explaining what different functions do and how they work.
  7. Creating User Manuals or Guides: I can assist in creating comprehensive user manuals or guides for software or hardware products.

This is an exhaustive list of things it can do. Drafting, Editing, Formatting, and Checking form the core essentials of any writing role. It can not only do that but do it at an alarmingly fast pace.

I’d be lying to you if I said I have never used ChatGPT for my documentation work, from turning a sentence into an active voice to changing a sentence from first person to second person view. Of course, I can do all this alone; I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I couldn’t. But it would take longer to figure out the fine details. With AI however, I can just ask the question, and my query would be instantly resolved.

using chatgpt for technical writing

The Essence of Time

More time in the documentation process yields numerous benefits.

  1. Accuracy: Extra time allows for meticulous research and validation, enhancing accuracy and preventing errors.
  2. Detail: A longer timeframe encourages more comprehensive and detailed documentation.
  3. Review and Revision: The luxury of extended duration facilitates numerous iterations, which can heighten clarity and reduce inaccuracies.
  4. Organization: It facilitates better document structuring, improving navigation and understanding.
  5. Consistency: You can maintain uniformity in style and terminology across documents.
  6. Usability Testing: It enables user testing for clarity and usability, and any feedback can be used for improvements.
  7. Translation: It ensures accurate and culturally sensitive translations if needed.
  8. Feedback: It allows gathering and incorporating user feedback to enhance document quality.

And therein lies the most significant gift bestowed upon you by AI – the gift of time. You can 10x your productivity if you can learn how to use ChatGPT effectively. And that’s how you could do more with less. 

Not all Roses and Sunshine

As you saw, when I asked ChatGPT how it could help me with Technical Documentation, it churned out a 7-point list describing in great detail how it could turn the proverbial wine into champagne. It did, however, also issue a brief disclaimer:

It’s important to note that while I strive to provide accurate and helpful information, my responses should be cross-verified with other sources, especially in critical documentation. My knowledge cutoff is as of September 2021, and I won’t have updates or changes in industry standards or technologies that have occurred since then.

With the level of accuracy an AI chatbot now possesses, it would be impossible for someone to make out the difference between the work of a human being and an AI chatbot. You could even argue that ChatGPT wrote this whole blog, and it’d be impossible to argue with. 

But even if the accuracy levels are very high, they are not 100%. An AI chatbot, while proficient, may occasionally err due to its lack of cognitive abilities, and fundamentally, it does not possess the complex capabilities of the human mind. At least not yet, anyway. 

Technology like this should be viewed as a tool that helps you optimize your work. But you should ensure you are not relying on it to do even the most menial tasks. It is important to assert control over your work; otherwise, you won’t be able to make important decisions by yourself.

What next?

These prospective advancements promise an exciting future, potentially introducing dramatic technological breakthroughs that could profoundly transform our lives. It is a smarter choice to put these advancements to work, make our lives easier, and invest time in solving more complex problems that require human intelligence and cognitive skills. It is your call to accept or ignore what is inevitable and use it best! 


Senior Tech Writer at Razorpay. Writes about Payment Apps, dreams about video games and wonders where technology will go next.

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