How Technical Writers Differ from Other Writers

By Amanda Ronan
Contributor

Posted on March 19, 2018  in  [ Language & Communication ]

Technical writers create communication and documentation for an organization or business. There are many things that go into technical writing and each position looks different depending on the writer’s skills and the company itself. A few things that are typical for technical writers to create are paper and digital operating instructions, how-to manuals, assembly instructions and “Frequently Asked Question” pages for end consumers.

Typical Responsibilities of Technical Writers

Technical writers are often involved after a product release to create material that is reflective of the product and to document changes that have been made. Technical writers do not have to be subject matter experts because they work with engineers, support specialists and developers to organize the flow of information among work groups. However, they must be able to understand complex information in order to communicate it to a variety of audiences within the professional landscape.

When a company runs usability studies, the technical writer is included. This research helps companies improve the design of a product. The technical writer may sit in on research groups and even do personal observations and in-depth research that can be presented to specialists.

Technical content and communications that need to float between several groups in a business are catalogued by a technical writer. They essentially act as a librarian, organizing data and research for the business. Technical writers are often called upon to write portions of grants of RFPS and help groups turn their research into documentation for use within the company.

As described above, this is not a typical writing job. To be a technical writer takes certain skills that are not necessarily found in other writing fields. Here is a look at what makes technical writers stand apart from the crowd.

What Makes Technical Writers Unique

They write to educate.

An author, and even a journalist, might seek to entertain or even persuade an audience. But a technical writer’s work exists solely to inform the reader about a specific product. Everything a technical writer creates on the job is about factual, statistically based or usability-based information. Personal opinions, or even comparisons to other products on the market, are not included in technical writing.

They write without emotion.

Technical writing is strictly objective. The technical writer is not employed to share emotions or opinions. They present facts in clear, detailed and non-dramatic ways.

They write for people who know more than them.

Novels and newspapers are geared toward a general audience of people, but technical documents are written for specific people with specific training and education in the company. Training manuals, for example, are written for employees within a certain industry who possess specific subject-matter knowledge. Technical writers work with people who do jobs that they themselves are not trained in, but they still have the ability to describe the processes used and data collected in a way that can be understood by people across several departments.

They don’t let their readers use imagination.

Technical writers do not skip over ideas in order to let their readers insert their own thoughts and opinions. A technical writer prepares documents that focus on informing the reader and providing specific data and steps for completion. Everything in a technical writer’s report or communication is detailed enough that the reader knows the exact specifications and can recreate the process used.

If you are someone who enjoys in-depth research and writing factual reports, technical writing might be a great position for you. One way to find out whether this is a field that you may be interested in is to take classes through the Grand Canyon University College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The Bachelor of Arts in Communication or Bachelor of Arts in English with an Emphasis in Professional Writing degrees help graduates on the path to becoming effective technical writers in contemporary settings.

To learn more about how Grand Canyon University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences provides students with cutting-edge technical writing skills, visit our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.

More About Amanda:

Amanda Ronan is a writer and editor focused on education. She was a classroom teacher for nearly a decade. Now she spends her time writing for students, teachers and parents. Amanda also writes curriculum for entrepreneurial learning and financial literacy programs. Amanda lives in Austin where she enjoys splashing in creeks with her husband and two dogs, swaying in a hammock on the porch, and sampling all the breakfast tacos the city has to offer.

About College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Letters and Voices is a blog that explores the impact of communications and language in our daily lives. The choices we make in the communication messages we send and receive structure the nature of our relationships, drive our motivations and values in career and community, as well as create positive solutions to address current problems. We hope that you will find these blog entries engaging and thought-provoking as you reflect on the impact your own communication choices have in your life and the lives of those around you.


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