Here’s a video for you to quickly go through Technical Writing
If you intend on learning more on Technical writing, keep reading.
So what exactly is Technical Writing?
Technical writing is about writing technical detail of any topic, in contrast to the popular belief that technical writing is all about science, engineering, & technology. Technical writing is done for specific purposes and target audience. It encompasses substances of various technical processes. The main purpose of any technical write-up is to inform the audience on subject-matter and outline technicalities of the processes. Technical writing covers a wide range including reports, briefs, emails, summary statements, etc. Whether you intend on informing the readers on engineering, manufacturing, finance, aerospace, IT, biotech, or global supply chain, you indulge in the activity of technical writing. The format of a technical write-up is often limited and is presented in a structured way.
Purpose of Technical Writing
The primary purpose of technical writing is to educate learners and give them proper insight on a particular subject. It is just like a written communication from expert to learners. All the textbooks that we study in classrooms are examples of technical writing. Following are some important purposes of technical writing:
- Assisting a person to deeply understand a particular concept of computers, technology, or medicine.
- Explaining in detail the functioning of an object.
- Instructing on how to perfect and finalize a project.
Technical writing is more demanding than any other kind of writing. It follows a structure and targets special audiences. It uses words that cannot be easily translated. Thus, the ultimate goal is to ensure that technical information is processed thoroughly and is written in the simplest form. This will help readers understand and comprehend the content in a better way. Better comprehension will lead to better utilization of the content in multiple contexts.
Characteristics of Technical Writing
Following are the characteristics of technical writing that distinguishes it from any other forms of writing:
- Direct and Comprehensible content. Professionals deal with technical writings to gain information. So, it is crucial to directly state the points and avoid writing unnecessary stuff. The writer must rely on facts and thorough research to create clear and concise content.
- Straight and simple language. Technical writers are under obligation to use simple and straightforward sentences. While involved in the process of technical writing, it is essential that writers avoid the use of uncommon words.
- Detailed and comprehensive content. A textbook is one eminent example of technical writing. It is the most comprehensive set of information on a particular topic. Textbooks often contain end-to-end information and attempt to inform readers on all aspects of the topic.
- Extremely structured content. Time and again the emphasis is given on the content structure. The pre-defined format of various technical writing forms gives a structure and flow to the content. This helps readers quickly understand and access the content.
What is the difference between Technical Writing and Business Writing?
Let us understand the distinction between business and technical writing by using the following representative case.
There are thousands of information one can share with the readers depending on their requirements. If your purpose is to sell the residential houses by informing the readers about its infrastructure and benefits, you are involved in the process of business writing. However, if you are writing for experts, who are more interested in knowing the technical details of the project/houses, then you are involved in the process of technical writing.
In business writing, the writer expresses the benefits of the houses such as its type, size, area, location, flooring, vaastu, security, etc. that can help pitch the houses better. It is important to outline points that people look for and help sell the property. On the contrary, some people are more interested in the in-depth details of the offerings. In such cases, writers involve in the process of technical writing. The write-up includes details of Architecture, Design, Material, Compliance, Sanitation, Facility Management, etc. These information are often sorted by people who have a better understanding of the topic at hand.
When a piece of writing becomes technical?
- The word ‘technical’ refers to the lesser known knowledge that is not widely spread.
- It is the domain of experts.
- You become a specialist in your field when working and gaining insights in a particular area.
- And when you try to write/explain about your field, you engage in the practice of technical communication.
- In technical communication, the writer is the expert and the readers are the learners.
- The audience is the most important part of a technical document.
- It is a fact-based writing-Opinions and judgments are avoided until it is necessary to explain an event.
- Accuracy is crucial.
Following are the common examples of Technical Content
- Business Plans: A business plan is defined as a written document that attempts to outline an organization’s business, marketing, financial as well as the sales strategy. It is a road-map or blueprint of a company that offers direction to the business. A business plan has existing guidelines regarding its content and form, which must be followed every time. The basic structure of a business plan consists of an overview, followed by an executive summary, company overview, prevailing opportunities, industry and market, applied strategy, the current team, a marketing plan, operational plan, financial plan, and an appendix.
- White Papers: Promotion of service, a product, or technology is done using whitepapers. So, whitepapers, in simpler terms, are marketing documents that are used by companies to entice customers and persuade them in making a deal. Whitepapers also follow a specific format and are of approximately 2500 words. A whitepaper needs an accurate title. The basic structure of a whitepaper starts with Abstract, Introduction, Problem Statement, Background, Solution, Road-map, Conclusion, and References.
- Product Descriptions: Just as the name suggests, a product description is a sales copy that attempts to explain the product and its benefits. The purpose of adding product description is to inform customers about the product, its characteristics, and how they benefit individuals. The product description does not have a format as different products require a different explanation. So, one important thing to keep in mind while writing a product description is to keep the sentences short and outline the features in simple words.
- User Manuals: It is a document that is used for technical communication with the users of a product. It aims at providing assistance to the audience in installing and accessing the product. The core of user manuals is instructional writing. The information in a user manual includes Product name, Purpose, Model number, Description, Safety Warnings, Installation instructions, Instructions on its usability, Troubleshooting, Maintenance & Repair information, Technical specifications, Index, Table of Content, Warranty information, and contact details. User manuals are also known as a User guide, Instruction manual, Training manual, Operational manual, Installation manual, Software manual, Maintenance manual, Quick start guide.
- Scientific Papers: These are written to disseminate original work done in the research field. The audience of scientific papers is fellow scientists, reviewing committees, etc. Scientific papers are extremely important as they aim to inform others and later on scientists/researchers build modern science on these papers. These papers are highly readable. The word formations are simple, short, concise, and accurate. The papers are structured in five sections, viz. Abstract, Introduction, Materials & Methods, Results & Discussion, Conclusion, References.
- Reports: These documents aim to present specific information to a particular audience for a set purpose. According to Kuiper & Clippinger business reports are “organized, objective presentations of observations, experiences, or facts used in the decision-making process.” Like any other technical writing, reports are also well organized, concise, accurate, and fact-based. The format of a business report includes a cover page, Table of Contents, Executive summary, Introduction, Main Body, Conclusions, Recommendations, Appendix.
At times, writers often combine two or more types of writing skills to achieve a specific goal.
Career Opportunities in Technical Writing
A writer may not be a subject matter expert (SME), and an SME may not be a good writer. Thus, there will always be a need for Technical Writers. As per the statistics of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth rate in technical writers employment is 8 percent. The constant increase in the support of Web-based products complements the rise in employment. Technical writers can start their career as a content developer, and go all the way to become Technical communications specialists. The job path includes content writers, Documentation specialists, Information designer, Information developers, Manual writers, Technical communicators, Technical Illustrators, Technical Trainers, Web writers, Policy writers, etc.
Become a Technical Writer
Write for a specific audience: There are six types of technical papers and each is targeted for specific audiences. The content for a business plan is not the same as in the report or vice versa. Every technical write-up has a unique purpose and a distinct audience that needs to be dealt accordingly. Thus it is crucial to keep your audience in consideration while drafting technical write-up.
Stick to the facts: Audiences who request technical write-ups do not entertain unnecessary sentences. They prefer facts backed up by numbers and statistics.
Write as if you are teaching: Technical writers often end up using a lot of jargons in the document. People unfamiliar with the field may not be able to comprehend the content in a better way if not explained in simpler terms. Hence it is strongly advised that technical writing should contain common everyday words. A person may not understand what they must know hence as an expert you are expected to write as if you are teaching a newbie.
Develop an ability to learn new topics: Technical writers are required to deal in a wide range of topics. It is an obligation for them to develop an ability that allows them to quickly understand new topics. Having basic knowledge beforehand benefits writers to come up with better and easily comprehensible content.
Get certified: In the contemporary world, certifications are a must. These help writers build credibility.
Top institutes where you can learn technical writing
Education and Career Times (ECT): Recognized by the Government of India, ECT is the only training institute that offers a Content Writing Course, offline and online, including Technical Writing. This course aims at introducing students with best writing practices. At ECT, one gets 40 hours of classroom/live training, 8 assignments, and 4 live projects from international clients. Whether a fresher or a working professional, whether you are starting from scratch or scaling up your knowledge, ECT helps you excel at writing and smartly handle all types of projects. Certification included.
Coursera: This technical course offered by Coursera aims to develop technical writing skills in students. These skills are important for effective communication of information that are gained using experimental or technical work. Highlight of this course involves all the factors that determine technicality of concepts and languages used for documentation. It is hundred percent online and allows students to learn at their own schedule. The course is of approximately 18 hours and covers a wide range of syllabus to help students excel at technical writing.
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