Writing is a skill that can take you far in the business world, whether you’re writing blog posts, marketing content, or even a book. But what if you’re more into technique than word art?
Can you still succeed as a writer in such an arena? The answer is absolute, at least based on the opinions of some experts.
As a technical writer, I’m often asked, “What does a technical writer do?” Although this is a very broad question, it is a great starting point. First let me paint the bigger picture of what the role entails; then we can look at concrete examples.
The short answer to this question is that a technical writer is someone who writes about technology. But there is more than that. What does a technical writer really do? Here is a quick explanation.
Technical writers write documentation, tutorials and glossaries on technical topics. In simple terms, they explain hard-to-understand technical topics in a way that other people can easily understand.
The field of technology is growing at a rapid pace, so technical writers have many opportunities available to them.
Tech writers are often considered the unsung heroes of the tech world. If you’ve used or read about new technologies, you’ve come across the work of a tech writer at some point. This article tells you everything you need to know about tech writers and their role in the tech world.
So who are technical writers?
A technical writer is a professional information communicator who transfers information to other parties by any means.
Technical writers research and create information through a variety of delivery media (electronic, print, audiovisual, and even touch).
Technical writers spend their days researching, writing, reviewing, and editing technical documentation. They work with technical staff to make complex information easier to understand.
This documentation includes online help systems, manuals (printed or electronic), how-to documents, guidelines, white papers, project/product specifications, requirements documents, training materials, and documentation. other types of documentation for users of products or services.
What is technical writing?
- Procedural documents. The best example of this is the instructions that come with a product. The instructions are written by a technical writer and explain how to use the product to the user.
- Reference documents. This is more detailed product information, and it includes manuals, online help, FAQs, and more. Sometimes it is included as part of procedural documentation; for example, many procedures will include links to reference documents that explain specific terms or concepts used in the procedure.
- Tutorials. This type of document teaches users how to accomplish tasks using the product. It is similar to how-to documentation in that it uses step-by-step instructions; however, it may be more general than the procedural documentation and may not address specific products or applications.
- Concept documentation. It is not about a product or an application, but explains the basic concepts in a particular field (for example, computer networks).
- Promotional material. Technical writers write these documents to describe and promote the products and services offered by their companies (or their clients’ companies). Marketing materials include brochures, spec sheets and presentations.
Areas of expertise?
In my opinion, there are four main areas of work for a technical writer:
Help users understand how to use your product by providing written guidance (instructions, how-to guides, feature overviews)
Help developers or other users understand how your product works by creating tutorials and training materials
- Internal Communications
Ensure that all teams in your company have access to the information they need to do their jobs
Create content that helps potential customers better understand how your product could help them
The practice of technical communication involves writing, editing, layout and design, as well as the use of multimedia. Of course, not all technical writers do all of these things. Very few technical writers do it all.
Due to their variety of skills, technical writers can be found in almost any industry or profession where technical information needs to be communicated to an audience – from consumer products to aerospace and defense.
Technical writers work for corporations, government agencies, nonprofits, and even individuals or small businesses that need documentation for their products. The best part of being a technical writer? You can do this from almost anywhere!
Why Technical Writers Do What They Do
Technical writers are more than just people who make sure the documentation exists. A technical writer is a partner in creating software, bridging the gap between developer and user, between marketing and sales, between product and customer.
As with many aspects of the tech industry, the role of a technical writer is constantly evolving to meet new demands.
The main purpose of good technical writing is to explain the features of a product or service to users. This often involves documenting the functionality of a system, explaining how it works, and guiding readers on how they can use it.
People often confuse technical communication with other types of writing, like journalism or marketing. While there are some similarities between these types of writing, there is one big difference: technical writing is about helping people use a product. In contrast, other types of writing may be more focused on persuading people to buy it.
Without an easy to understand and accurate manual, the user (or customer) of a product might as well not have the product at all.
According to Joan Young, a professional essayist at Advanced Writersthe role of a technical writer is to take technical jargon and make it understandable to the layman.
Technical writers are also responsible for writing documentation, articles, white papers, and other types of content that help users understand how a product works.
The most simplified answer is that technical writers can help a business in several ways. These include:
- Creation of guides for customers and employees
- Create marketing content such as white papers and blog posts
- Writing e-mails and other commercial correspondence
- Writing scripts for training videos or podcasts