Technical documentation keeps a business running smoothly. Good documentation is easy to read, well-organized, accessible, and, most importantly, comprehensive when written properly. With essential data at its fingertips, a company can leverage critical information into successful business outcomes.

Furthermore, technical documentation is one of the best examples of professional technical writing services. That’s because tech writers are experts at documenting the highly technical aspects of products, services, and processes.

In this article, you will learn what a documentation writer is, the types of documents they write, and why they are critical assets for your business. Moreover, keep in mind that while documentation writers are technically a subset of technical writers, both terms are used interchangeably. You’ll also learn why writing good technical documentation is important to your overall strategy.

What Are Documentation Writers?

In every industry, big and small organizations use a variety of documentation. Companies cannot operate without these manuals, guidelines, and SOPs. These documents contain the company’s essential data. That is why business operations, continuity, and success depend on the quality and effectiveness of documentation. 

In addition, a documentation writer is responsible for communicating complex information in a clear and useful manner. All types of technical writers simplify product functionality and oversee and maintain document management systems and processes. 

Moreover, documentation writers obtain essential information by working alongside subject matter experts (SMEs), developers, engineers, and project managers. Documentation writer jobs are projected to grow six percent from 2021 to 2031 according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. Documentation writers are experienced in industries that rely on technology, like IT, medicine, marketing, and engineering.

Who Writes Technical Documentation?

Technical documentation is typically written by either a subject matter expert, a technical writer, or documentation specialists who are trained in a particular subject. Documentation writers for hire are highly specialized pools of writers.

Best Practices

Best practices for technical writing of documents include having the documents available live on a Google drive or other cloud-based repository. By using these cloud-based features, everyone involved in the team and project can view, edit, and share a master document to keep track of all changes in real time.

If you prefer to use Microsoft® Word® software instead of Google docs, you can download from the master document and work on the file locally. Of course, you’ll have to keep note of your changes if you need to update the master file.

Documentation Writers are Fluent in All Types of Technical Documents

Over the years, documentation writers have developed a misleading reputation. Many often think they produce simple documents, like board game instructions or TV guides. However, there are many types of technical writing documents.

A technical writer tends to focus on various technical documents, from compliance policies to aircraft specifications to incident management plans. These types of technical writing documents are critical documents for daily business operations. 

In addition, documentation writers produce so many types of documents that listing every kind is nearly impossible. But here are a few examples of technical documentation from the tech industry.

IT Documentation

IT documentation is part of technical documentation writing and is a collection of documents describing how an IT team operates. These are critical documents for ensuring that all systems use as expected at all times.

  • Java documentation — The Java computer programming language can be very complex. Documenting its principal rules for an organization or one of its projects is critical for business operations. Moreover, there are generally two types of Java documents: 
    • External documents: A description of the guidelines and restrictions in a Java program.
    • Internal documents: An explanation of a specific code and its methodology.
  • API Documentation — API documentation is a reference manual on how to use and connect multiple APIs, allowing different software services to connect seamlessly.
  • Knowledge Baseknowledge base document collects frequently asked questions (FAQs), how-to guides, and troubleshooting instructions. A Knowledge Base can be thought of as a database for a company, where new questions and answers regarding a product or service can be added at any given moment.
  • User guide — User guides are generally shorter than manuals and offer guidance on how to use specific features often for software products and product documentation.
  • User manual — User manuals help your customers use your software and fully utilize all feature sets as intended.
  • White papers — Authoritative, research-based documents that present information, expert analysis, and an organization or author’s insight into a topic or solution to a problem. Typically, business white papers are tied to their own product or service offering.
  • Business plans — Highly specialized for a business, a business plan includes the objectives of a business and the road map to get there.
  • Table of Contents — These lists link directly to the contents of the product documentation and provide a rapid way for the reader to access the material.

That’s just an overview. We have more information on technical writing documentation elsewhere. For additional examples, here’s a helpful video that highlights examples of software documentation that inspire, showing not only why documentation is important but how to do it in away that inspires and connects with users.

Process Documentation

Process documentation is a kind of document that describes a series of steps to complete a task or process. This can often refer to the “how” of your business. Furthermore, prospective users will be able to access critical recorded maneuvers.

Finally, when a process document is done correctly, your business could benefit from reduced busy work, eliminated errors, streamlined the process, allocated resources accordingly, enhanced communication, and retained knowledge. 

Policy and Procedures

Policy and procedures documents are guidelines for a business’s day-to-day operations and other courses of action. Training materials are a documentation writer’s most well-known type of work. Training materials consist of various manuals, job aids, and other tools to help employees learn specific skills or knowledge.

How much do documentation writers make?

Does a documentation writer make much money? As with any position, the salary range is influenced by demand and location. A documentation writer salary ranges from $60,000 to $80,000 per year based on current research. However, companies can hire on a per project basis if that makes more sense. Some reasons why you would hire a contract writer over a permanent full-time employee is you can find the right talent to match the precise need of writing. Since subject matter expertise is important, it’s rare to find the unicorn who has ALL the experience you might need.

Of course, budget plays an important role too. With an FTE, you have overhead and taxes and it’s a long-term commitment. With a contract writer, your investment might be higher per hour but overall lower than an FTE. You can review job descriptions to get some ideas on what other companies seek. The technical documentation writer job description content varies to reflect the type of writing required based on the seven types of technical writing previously mentioned. You will want to search and review many types of technical writing job descriptions in order to get a full view of what you might need for your situation.

The Skyrocketing Value of a Software Documentation Writer

Revenues for the global software market are projected to increase annually until 2027, when they may reach $813 billion. Everyone in software development will play a significant role in this excellent value creation.

Software is designed by engineers and built by programmers in alliance with business goals. While some companies expect those specialists to explain the products they’re developing in clear writing; others know that a software documentation writer is best suited for this position. Often a technical writer job description will include a requirement  “highly technical field, such as software development, computer science, or engineering”.

Similarly, software documentation contains instructions explaining how to use a program or a service. This type of documentation needs to target a specific audience, whether an IT professional, a business leader or an end-user at any level of any organization. 

Documenting this highly sophisticated technical material in simple terms is an artful balancing act best executed by a professional writer. The companies that realize this have seen firsthand the difference between clear and concise documentation of their essential data and sloppy writing that costs everyone time, money, and headaches.

Why Are Documentation Writers Important For Your Business?

When you invest in a documentation writer, you take an essential step toward creating deliverables that ensure your in-house employees can achieve their goals. Documentation writers have not siloed workers.

Instead, technical writers work alongside computer hardware engineers and support specialists so they can manage complex information flows. Technical writers work keeps your company’s projects on time and under budget, freeing up resources for development and testing.

Furthermore, this happens whether documentation writers are on a project from the beginning or brought in later to fix errors, reduce redundancies, remove documents, and increase productivity. Similarly, the work of a technical writer lays down new standards that often serve as the single source of truth about company products or processes. 

In addition, this bridges the gap between current employees, that have gained valuable knowledge over time, and future employees. In a demanding business environment, seamless information flows can be the difference between increasing user satisfaction and retaining customers – or losing out to an organized, efficient, well-documented competitor. 

How Essential Data Corporation Can Help Your Documentation

Whether you need a single software technical writer for a brief project or a team of consultants to produce a complete line of documentation, the quality of our work is guaranteed for you. Our clients work closely with an Engagement Manager from one of our 30 local offices for the entire length of your project at no additional cost. Contact us at (800) 221-0093 or