What is Technical Writing?
Technical writing is a form of communicating that takes technology-focused information and makes it more easily digestible for readers who may not have as much background in complex technological processes. A technical writer likely has had a specialized education in engineering, computer science, or information technology, and therefore understands how to take complex processes and break them down for ease of understanding. Thus, not only does a tech writer have to have an excellent command of language but they frequently must create graphs, diagrams, and illustrations as well. Technical writing usually falls into one of three categories, depending on the target audience.
- Consumer Technical Writing refers to technical content written for end-users or consumers. Good examples are user manuals, employee handbooks, standard operating procedures (SOPs), software user documentation (help files), troubleshooting guides, and disclaimers.
- Expert-to-expert technical writing is written primarily for knowledgeable readers. This includes academic papers, medical case studies, annual business reports, and legal case studies.
- Technical marketing content is technical information presented in an easy-to-understand format to promote a product or service. Consider marketing case studies, white papers, product brochures, press releases, business plans, and suggestions.
Technical Writing vs Content Writing
A tech writer is similar to a content writer, but typically tech writers have more specialized technical knowledge. Therefore, a content writer is typically more product-focused, helping with the branding and marketing of specific items. A content writer tries to make the products and services of a company sound more appealing to consumers. A technical writer, however, focuses on making information easily understood. They are not in the business of marketing, but rather in the business of communicating how something functions. Technical writing is a rapidly growing field; according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is expected to grow ten percent between 2014 and 2024.
Technical writing should be:
- Clear – Technical writing provides clear information and leaves little or no misunderstanding. Therefore, you should use clear and concise text.
- Easy – This type of writing is easy. However, it requires the transmission of information in a direct and direct way, without the use of literary equipment.
- Accurate – The language of technical writing must be very accurate and describe objects and procedures accurately.
- Easy to Understand – Effective technical writers avoid words that people may not understand and avoid eloquent writing styles. However, using proper industry language is still critical.
- Intensional Meaning – This writing relies on the intensional meaning of the word to ensure that there is no misunderstanding due to different implied interpretations.
- Detailed – The technical documentation is very detailed, informative, and leaves nothing in your imagination. A perfect example of technical writing is a textbook. Thus, most textbooks describe the material as completely as possible.
- Very Structured – Technical editing is very structured. Therefore, this writing should have a well-defined structure for the reader to understand. The audience must be able to rely on the step-by-step instructions provided by the technical editor.
- Skimmable – Technical documentation should be designed with skimmability in mind so that readers can easily search the entire document and find the information they need. Thus, technical writers should include meaningful descriptive headings and a complete table of contents and/or index.
- Focus on Problem Solving – Technical documentation should be written with problem-solving in mind. Readers will use these documents to learn how to perform specific tasks and obtain technical information. Therefore, it should be easy to understand and organized so that you can easily refer to it when a question arises.
What are Examples of Technical Writing?
Documentation that a technical writer may be responsible for producing includes instruction manuals, product descriptions, user manuals, tutorials, software documentation, technical material, API documentation, websites, and white pages. The top industries that hire technical writers include:
- Heavy machinery industry
- Software industry
- Automobile manufacturing industry
- Medical industry
- Healthcare sector
- Education sector
- Defense industry
- Aerospace industry
- Consumer electronics industry
These industries require specialized knowledge that usually requires years of education. Consumers of items such as computer software, machinery, and electronics, do not necessarily understand every aspect of the products. Therefore, a technical writer needs to make these products usable for the consumer. For example, a construction worker likely does not understand how to engineer a forklift from start to finish, but they need to have some understanding of the mechanics to operate efficiently and troubleshoot when problems arise. This is where the need for a technical writer comes into play. Therefore, they really need to understand the audience and the user.
Where Can I Find a Tech Writer for Hire?
Tech writers are not one size fits all. Certain tech writers have skills that will fit the needs of one company and not another. Therefore, having clear standards in mind for what you need when hiring a technical writer is essential. Creating a rubric to evaluate the potential hires can be helpful. For an example of this rubric, click here.
Categories to evaluate include writing skills, technical knowledge, and work ethic. Furthermore, it is important to determine if a technical writer is needed on a full-time basis or if a freelance writer will fit the needs of the company. Services like Indeed allow companies to search for interested workers by posting available job opportunities online. The contract rate for technical writers usually ranges from about $50-90 per hour but this amount depends on skill and experience level as well as the specific technical understanding necessary for the company.
Important skills of a Technical Writer:
There are vital skills that all great technical writers should possess. However, here are some specific skills to look for:
- Writing Skills
- Interest in Science and Technology
- Ability to work with Technical Writing Tools
- Research and Exploration Skills
- Proofreading Skills
- Being Systematic
- Being good at Single-Sourcing
- Critical Thinking
- Web-design basics
- Common Sense
Technical writing is a vital part of bridging the gap between specialized and everyday understanding. Therefore, it is integral that a tech writer is not only intelligent in their specific area but understands how to communicate effectively to the everyday person. They need to be able to gauge where miscommunications could potentially occur and address them before they even happen. Google even offers classes for technical writing that enable people with specialized skills to transfer their knowledge into writing.
If you are looking for more expertise in software documentation, always know Essential Data Corporation is here to help. Some professional tech writers can help take on any of your business needs for your business to succeed.
With a team of consultants that produce a complete line of documentation or a single technical writer for a brief project, Essential Data’s Engagement Manager will lead the project from start to finish. Therefore, at Essential Data Corporation, we guarantee the quality of our work. Contact us today to get started. (800) 221-0093 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Samantha Galvin