What Is Technical Writing & What Does a Technical Writer Do?

Technical writing is writing on a particular topic requiring guidance, instruction, or explanation. This writing style serves a unique purpose and therefore has very different qualities from other types of writing such as creative writing, academic writing, or business writing.
 Therefore, technical writing is vital to many businesses and industries. Without it, complex topics and specific procedures would be difficult or impossible to understand or follow.  
Technical Writing Definition & Overview
Technical writing is a writing discipline that involves communicating complex information to those who need it to accomplish a specific task or goal. Therefore, technical writing is often defined as «simplifying the complex.
It is a subcategory of technical communication that is primarily used in technical and operational disciplines such as digital technology, engineering, science, aeronautics, robotics, finance, medicine, electronics, forestry, and biotechnology.
Although many people associate technical writing with the creation of computer and software manuals, the process of technical writing can be found in any sector or business where complex ideas, theories, practices or procedures need to be communicated. 
Technical writing also includes press releases, memos, reports, business proposals, data sheets, product descriptions, specifications, white papers, resumes, and job applications.
A technical writer executes a technical letter. Their primary responsibility is to convey technical information to another person or audience most clearly and effectively possible.
 The concept of technical writing has been around for as long as writing has been around. Modern references to technical writing and technical communication as a profession came around World War I, when technological advances in military, industrial, and telecommunications fields began to accelerate even faster.

What Are the Differences Between a Technical Letter and a Business Letter?
Although technical writing and business writing are similar in nature, they are not the same thing. 
Business writing is a broader category of writing that technical writing falls under. Thus, technical writing covers the same area and deals with many of the same documents. However, the process and results of technical writing are completely different from the process and results of business writing.
What Is the Purpose of Technical Writing?
The main purpose of technical writing is to convey complex information to the reader in a way that the reader can understand and then use it, even if they have no prior knowledge in the field.
 Technical writing is intended for readers seeking knowledge about a specific subject, such as how a certain object works or how to perform a certain task. For example, a reader's goal may be to use a software application, operate industrial equipment, prevent accidents, safely consume packaged food, perform a medical examination, comply with the law, train a sports team, or perform a wide range of other tasks. In fact, technical writing is a necessary element of any activity that requires experience or skill.
Only a small percentage of technical writing is intended for a general consumer audience. Companies and organizations create a large amount of technical writing for the purpose of explaining internal procedures, designing and manufacturing products, executing processes, marketing products and services to other businesses, and establishing regulations.
Different Types of Technical Writing
Technical writing takes several different forms depending on the type of documentation that is being written. These include:
Technical Documentation
Repair manuals, user manuals, maintenance manuals, technical specifications, technical manuals, and reference materials are examples of technical documentation. Because this type of technical documentation is intended for a specific audience, the author must know the skill level of the reader as well as have in-depth knowledge of the topic at hand.
Instructions for End Users
When you buy software, install a computer component, purchase a digital device or household appliance, they come with a user manual that explains how to use them. These are what are called end-user manuals, but this category also includes documents such as troubleshooting guides, assembly instructions, before-and-after lists, warranties, and disclaimers.
 Compilers of these manuals must analyze highly technical information and present it in user-friendly language that can be understood by a wide audience.
Technical Reports
Many products, in addition to instructions and advice, contain information about the origin, development, structural, or operational modifications of the product. Technical writers design and edit the material for clarity and accuracy.
Feasibility Studies and Corporate Reports
Feasibility studies and corporate reports, such as company financial reports, involve careful research on the part of the writer. This information must then be presented in a way that can be easily understood by any level of employee, manager, or shareholder. Therefore, they often include visual aids such as charts or graphs, especially when it comes to finances, timing, social or business practicality.
Research Findings
Products related to the medical and pharmaceutical industry often come with documents that detail relevant laboratory studies or results. Because this type of technical letter usually includes detailed information about drug combinations, side effects, and other important health issues, exceptional attention to detail is necessary.
Policies and Procedures
Businesses of all sizes need handbooks describing policies and procedures to run the organization. They also use employee handbooks to protect themselves from lawsuits by employees who claim they were unaware of specific rules and regulations.
These documents are laid out by technical writers in simple, non-discriminatory language.
Business Plans
Before making a loan to a new or existing business, financial institutions require a detailed business plan. These documents require highly technical research and understanding of the company's finances and operations, including cost projections, potential losses and profit margins, as well as competitive analysis, marketing techniques and thorough background information on the owner's professional history and financial condition.
White Papers
White papers are documents that a company creates for outside audiences to help them make decisions and solve relevant problems. They are used to discuss a problem and suggest a specific solution, product, technology or procedure in various industries and types of business.
Case Studies
Case studies are detailed written evaluations of real-world events. They may focus on people, groups, organizations, medical approaches, solutions, or the study of a particular subject over a period of time. They try to find patterns in data about a subject and then use them to make assumptions and identify trends. Case studies are usually found in scientific publications, but they can also be found in industry and commerce.
Literature Reviews
A literature review can be used as a stand-alone document or as part of a larger report. It is a type of technical writing that summarizes what is known about a topic. A literature review summarizes and explains previous research and discoveries about a topic, highlighting major research milestones, controversial results, and what needs to be learned through additional research.
Proposals are written for the purpose of prompting a person or group to take action. A proposal is usually required when applying for a grant, implementing a project, or buying a product. Proposals are also needed when an improvement to an organization, product, process, or service is being considered.
 Because the proposal must be very persuasive, it must be written with the target audience in mind. The writer must define the situation and outline recommended actions and persuade readers to take them.

Basic Principles of Technical Writing
There are five basic principles of technical writing, including qualitative content, audience and purpose, accessibility, grammar, and writing style.
Quality Content
Technical writing that meets client expectations or goes beyond the original scope of the project is considered quality content. Technical writers should be mindful of the target audience and understand what research needs to be done to complete the project. In addition, the writer should know the format or platform that will be used to present the information. Understanding the full scope of the project — including the applicable timeline and reasons for writing the material — is also important for creating quality content.
Audience and Purpose
To successfully write technical writing, the writer must understand the purpose and target audience of the project. The target audience for technical writing varies by business and client. For example, the target audience for a lap report is the product manufacturer who needs the report. On the other hand, the target audience for an eLearning lesson might be a financial institution that needs compliance training.
When it comes to connecting with the audience, the writer needs to know how much the readers already understand as well as what their responsibilities are.
The audience should be able to easily access the information the writer has prepared. Accessibility can be increased, for example, by using headers and footers in the document or any computer modules that help make formatting more versatile and understandable.
 The technical writer should identify the most effective methods to help readers navigate the document, such as bibliography, page numbers, and table of contents. To help explain the material, the writer can also include visual aids such as charts and graphs.
Any technical document should be written clearly, concisely, and understandably, using proper grammar. Documents should also be proofread and edited to eliminate any problems or inconsistencies in language, style, and structure. Unless the client indicates otherwise, the technical writer should always write in the present tense, especially since the reader should do exactly what you tell him or her to do. The writer should always use simple phrases with gender-neutral nouns. Concise sentences help readers properly understand the actions they must take to achieve their goal.
Writing Style
Every technical piece of writing has its own writing style because it depends greatly on who the audience is and the reason for writing the project. Style plays an important role in informing the reader of the tone needed for the assignment. Because it has to do with who your audience is, word choice is also a vital element of writing style that helps writers meet the needs of the audience.

In addition, when citing sections of information or websites, it is important to provide clear and accessible access to the data, using tools such as figures and tables.

Technical Writing Tips
Great technical writing can be achieved by following these key tips — regardless of the type of technical documentation being created:
Know your audience: Certain abbreviations, acronyms and slang that are directly relevant to the topic will be understood by an expert in the field. Since a more inexperienced person will not be able to understand the information in the same way, every detail should be explained and laid out for them.
 Use an objective style: Write in the third person and as if you were a teacher teaching a student. Any personal opinions should be avoided in technical writing.
 Use clear language: For the reader to understand the process or instructions, the presentation should be direct, precise and as simple as possible — whether it's a simple list of tasks to accomplish a desired goal or a detailed explanation of an idea or abstract concept.
 Do thorough research: Gather information from a variety of sources, analyze the findings so they can be understood, and then present the information in an easy-to-understand format to instruct those who will read it. The more inexperienced your audience is, the more information you need to gather and explain.
 Be thorough: Be detailed in your description and include enough information to get your point across; but you should also consider the effectiveness of your use of words so that you don't bore your reader with unnecessary material.
By following these tips, a technical writer should be able to simplify a complex process and explain complex information quickly.
 Technical writing is vital to many businesses and industries
As you have learned, technical writing simplifies the complex. It communicates certain ideas, theories, practices, or procedures in a way that is easy to understand or follow.
It is therefore very relevant to any business or industry that uses technical documents, end-user instructions, technical reports, feasibility studies and corporate reports, research findings, policies and procedures, business plans, white papers, case studies, literature reviews, proposals and more.
Technical writing has been around since the invention of writing, but its popularity continues to grow rapidly, especially in the age of telecommunications. The practice shows no sign of slowing down and will remain an integral part of our world for decades to come.