Definition of Technical Writing

Technical Writing and Documentation

Informal Definition

Firstly, we will explain the underlying working of technical writing. It is a form of communication. Communication refers to the exchange of information, ideas and thoughts between two or multiple parties via  professional documentation. Hence, technical documentation or communication involves the transmission of technical knowledge about a new technology or product to the non technical users.

Formal Definition

Before we go into the purpose and details of technical writing, have a look at the following definitions:

“Technical writing refers to straightforward explanations and/or instructions dealing with a particular technical subject. The subject being written about may be abstract or tangible.”

or

“Technical writing, a form of technical communication, is a style of writing used in fields as diverse as computer hardware and software, engineering, chemistry, the aerospace industry, robotics, finance, consumer electronics, and biotechnology. Technical writers explain technology and related ideas to technical and nontechnical audiences. This could mean, for example, telling a programmer how to use a software library or telling a consumer how to operate a television remote control.”

or

“Technical Writing is a term that represents an increasingly broad set of activities that are designed to communicate understandable information that can help people be productive.”

Gerald J. Alred, being a technical writer, wrote a book named Handbook of Technical Writing where he discussed in detail that technical writing is all about enabling the readers to understand a new technological theory, concept or a process.
technical writing definition, technical documentation

Extended Definition

Transforming Technical Information into Words

It is the job of a technical writer to translate the hardcore technical information into words which are easy to grasp and follow.

Elements of Consideration

Technical writing includes process flows, user journey and story boards, SDLC documents, FAQs and product walk-throughs. It demands an effective and easy-to-understand presentation and explanation of complicated workings.

Formats of Technical Documentation

Commonly, technical documentation is produced in the following formats:

Manuals (Product or user): Mostly they are produced in hard copy

PDF Format: PDF files can be distributed int eh form of e-books or soft form handi-material.

Online Wikis: Organizations mostly use restricted wikis for product information for internal communication.

Infographics: These give a pictorial understanding of a concept or workflow.

Presentations: Powepoint, Prezi or Keynote are used to present concepts and finer details.

Nature of Technical Writing

The requirement of technical writing is that the information presented must be precise and to the point therefore, technical writers make use of objective tone rather than subjective. The technical writing style is strictly utilitarian and emphasizes on clarity, accuracy and corrective-ness, not on elegance and allusiveness like creative or essay writing.

Importance

Everyday we hear about new inventions in technology; we all need to upgrade our tech knowledge in order to survive in this global world. Thanks to technical writers who create for us the how-to guides, manuals, textbooks, instructional material and explain to us in simple and meaningful words about the technological inventions, their purpose and usage.

What Does Technical Writing Include?

Styles and Methods

Technical writing covers a broad range of areas and includes various types of technical writing areas. However, typically it includes the following deliverables:

  • White papers
  • User guides and manuals
  • Application programming interface programmers’ guides
  • Network configuration guides
  • Network administrators’ guides
  • Network recovery guides
  • Presentations
  • Site guides /FAQs
  • Reference documents
  • Training materials
  • Installation guides
  • Alarm-clearing procedures
  • Troubleshooting guides
  • Specification documents
  • Proposals
  • Reports
  • Magazine articles
  • Policies and procedures
  • Requirement documentation
  • Certification and Accreditations
  • Procedure reports
  • Release notes
  • Corporate disclaimers
  • Technical papers
  • Scientific reports
  • Hardware maintenance and repair procedures

Conclusion

Therefore, from the above definitions and explanation of technical writing and documentation we can conclude that it is basically a non fiction form of content creation that relies on information delivery in the most digestible manner. The content and format may vary but the intent is to transform knowledge. Other forms of writing, closely related with technical writing are expository writing, business writing and academic writing.