A technical writer is someone who transforms tough and complicated technical content into clear and easy content for the target audience to understand better. A technical writer mostly writes company documents such as instruction manuals, product descriptions, reference guides, and more. These writers continue to be in demand and are present across fields like technology, medicine, engineering, computer science, and others.
Traditionally, user manuals and guides were looked at as classic examples of technical writing. In recent times, the definition of technical writing has developed vastly. It is no longer about manuals and guides but includes documentation of complex technical processes. Reports, press releases, emails, summary statements, etc are all looked at as technical documents. Industries such as finance, aerospace, IT, biotech and so many more, all deal with technical documentation processes daily.
5 TYPES OF TECHNICAL WRITING
There are essentially 5 types of technical writing that we come across daily. They are:
1. USER DOCUMENTATION
Technical documentation created for the users is the most common form of technical writing that we get to see. These are mostly created for home appliances, electronics, and user-driven products in the form of repair manuals, user guides, product descriptions, and FAQs.
2. MEDICAL & SCIENTIFIC PAPERS
In this types of technical writing, researchers interpret their findings, experiments, observations, and more in the medical field into journals, newsletters, and other online platforms. The goal is to make medical science understandable to people or a group of people.
3. TECHNICAL BOOKS AND GUIDES
People who have expertise in a specific field do their bit for society by accumulating all their research into books and guides that other people can consult for their projects, papers, and presentations. These books and guides are lengthy and not understandable in one go.
4. ASSEMBLY MANUALS
This is another common form of technical document based in the mechanical department. These are written to understand the disassembly and re-assembly of a machine or equipment.
5. REVIEWS & REPORTS
Reviews and reports mostly come from the corporate world. So, technical documents on the corporate side are in the form of reports regarding business pitches, stakeholder meetings, business plans, press releases, case studies, and business proposals.
THE ROLE OF A TECHNICAL WRITER
A technical writer is required to be knowledgeable about the field he or she is dealing with and also be able to understand the audience. Since they deal with high-quality documents, there needs to be an added expertise of being able to understand such documents that other normal readers might not be able to at first glance. The main goal is to create technical content in such a way that a common man not only understands but can apply it in the required field.
The responsibilities of a technical writer when summarised come down to:
- Research information related to the company and its technical content.
- Produce technical documents as per the company’s needs.
- Compile and edit technical information and documents.
- Organize all technical documents into the company’s database and create companies for the same.
- Maintain a glossary and library of technical terms and records all the time.
- Compile information as per the usability and requirements of the audience.
2 PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES OF A TECHNICAL WRITER
Almost all technical writers have common work duties. The nature of the job is a defining factor of the extent and the work of the writer. However, some of the primary responsibilities of a technical writer are:
1. RESEARCHING ABOUT THE SUBJECT MATTER
As technical writers are expected to be experts in the niche they are dealing with, researching the subject matter extensively is what is expected of them. This helps them in developing simple and clear concepts and content based on their findings. Sources like journals, dissertations, content on social media can be used to research and then narrow the vast pool of information to their topic. By listing down the important points derived from their research and connecting relevant data with it, a technical writer can be a subject matter expert.
2. TECHNICAL DOCUMENT PLANNING
A company will always be in requirement of technical documents. So, it is the responsibility of the technical writer to come up with resources and plan them to create good technical documents which both the company and its audience can use. To plan the document, they need to first familiarize themselves with the subject and understand its scope and resources for the company. Then the responsibility of the technical writer is to give duties to the entire team so that together they can plan and successfully create a technical document.
The road to becoming a technical writer is not an easy one. However, it is among the most rewarding and demanding jobs of today. All leading industries in the world are looking for good technical writers and you may be one of them.