Definition of Technical Writing
Technical Writing is written communication about technical or specialised topics, such as IT infrastructures; instructions that detail how to complete either a technical task or a process.
The function and/or process could be for a specific task such as Disaster Recovery, an ITIL process such as Incident and Change management.
Our goal is to make information accessible and usable to the intended audience, thereby advancing the goals of companies and organisations.
Technical Writers can be found working in high-tech manufacturing, engineering, biotech, energy, aerospace, finance, IT, and global supply chain.
What Is the Job of a Technical Writer?
The job of a technical writer will be similar across all industrial sectors. We often work alongside multi-disciplinary teams functioning as the mediator between the technical staff and less technical reader. I work closely with these teams to develop a communications strategy.
In many cases, my responsibilities often extend beyond just writing. Technical Writers must understand the entire project from high-level goals to the intricacies of implementation.
Documents Written by a Technical Writer
Here is a list of the documents I have written:
- Technical Reports
- User Interface Text
- Guides and User Manuals
- White Papers & Case Studies
- Product Descriptions
Which Skills do Technical Writers need?
Listed below are the core functions Technical Writing will perform:
Research is the first step in technical writing. Once we know the assignment, I collect the data and turn it into valuable information.
Research can come from a variety of places including:
- On-Site Data
- Online and Intranet Publications
- Interviews with SMEs
- Libraries and Research Databases
After the research, we analyse and begin planning your document.
The technical information researched and gathered must be shaped by reader interest, understanding, and perception.
Technical writers communicate highly technical information to a non-technical audience. Therefore, an early step in the most effective technical writing process is analysing our audience carefully to match the information to their needs.
Communication skills are imperative to be a successful technical writer. You will likely be working with multiple teams and individuals from differing roles.
Our ability to listen, record, and communicate will be crucial.
Our writing skills ensure the documents are easy to read and are free of errors.
It is essential that we convey the correct tone, style, and format for documents.
Often these rules are outlined by the employing organisation in a style guide.
We know some people prefer drawings while other prefer content, and in many cases, they like both drawings and content. Graphics are essential as they aid the reader to comprehend the information.
Graphs, tables, and charts are commonplace in technical reports.
Documents need to be proficient formatted for consistency and helping readers navigate the document. Headings should reflect the underlying content and organised logically.
A poorly designed document will make it more difficult for the reader to understand the content. Document design is a crucial aspect of technical writing.
User Research and Testing
Some forms of technical writing may require user research and testing. An example application where detailed analysis and testing would be appropriate is a Disaster Recovery Guide, Incident Management, Business Continuity guide to ensure the process is complete and understood.
Documents should be easy to follow, primarily if the process describes a significant function. To accurately write the guide, the writer may meet SMEs in workshops to understand the process and write the narrative.
Testing is necessary to ensure the document are fit for purpose.
In which sectors have I worked?
Below is a list of industries where I have worked:
- Information Technology departments
- Financial Services
- Employment Agencies