What is technical writing?

Technical writing is the method of communicating technical information to specific end users for the purpose of installation, application, and daily use of a specific product, whether that product is related to hardware or software. For end users to use or apply particular products, they need documentation and online help that is clear, concise, accurate, and formatted in a manner that is simple to follow and easy to understand. Technical writing provides the materials required for this purpose. Some of these materials include, but are not limited to, assembly instructions, installation guides, operating instructions, administration guides, troubleshooting guides, case studies, and white papers. In addition to providing much of the web content for many companies, technical writers also provide the same information in electronic format.

Procedure writing is one of the core services offered in technical writing. Procedures comprise all the activities, information, and applications required to use a product. This information also enables an end user to understand the functioning of the product itself.

How is technical writing applied?

Technical writing is applied in a wide range of fields such as telecommunications, computer software and hardware, mechanical and electrical engineering, consumer technology, and aerospace. Technical writing also supports a company’s use of technology by its business functions, whether that function is specific to IT support, finance, accounting, or another area. For example, in the absence of concise and clear documentation written by a technical writing expert, IT support staff spend more time trying to solve technical problems, which leads to more work and wastes time that could have been better spent elsewhere. To operate efficiently and effectively, all businesses, large or small, require well-written technical documentation.

What are the benefits of hiring a technical writer?

  • Targeted and concise communication
    • Engineers, programmers, and other product developers are experts in their field, but are likely only comfortable writing for an audience of their peers. But a product's documentation must usually meet the needs of an entirely different audience–the users of the product, who know far less about the product than its developers. Technical writers understand and communicate entirely to the intended audience of the materials they develop.
    • Technical writers transform the developer's jargon to the simpler language end users require.
    • High-quality documentation reflects well on a business and its products. Readers often assume that if the documentation is poor, the product will not be much better.
  • Reduced support costs
    • High-quality documentation reduces calls to technical support departments.
    • Technical writers think of the task from the user's perspective, not the developer’s perspective. They are able to explain how users can reach their goals. Customers who learn how to complete their tasks by reading the documentation do not have to call support staff.
    • While documenting a product, technical writers test the product to learn how it really works. In doing so, they often discover bugs or usability problems. Fixing those problems before a product is released ensures that customers will never encounter the problems.
  • Reduced documentation costs
    • The primary job of a technical writer is to write, and professional writers create documentation faster than the product's developers. Hiring a technical writer not only reduces writing costs, but also frees product developers to do the job they were hired for, that is, product development.
    • Technical writers can write more concisely without sacrificing quality, resulting in shorter manuals and lower production costs.
    • Whether documentation is published in print or online, shorter documents reduce the time requirement for reviews, thereby reducing review costs. Because it is also easier to focus on a shorter document, the quality of the reviews improves in turn.