Communication is part of the life of every creature on this planet. How that communication is carried out however, is varied, and different types of communication are suitable based upon the type of information that needs to be conveyed. One specific area of communication involves transmitting, understanding and knowledge of a technical subject to others that need to know the basics and details ofthe subject in question. In written form, this communication type of communication is called technical writing.
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. Regardless, the writing must be easy to understand and follow. As with any writing project, the audience’s understanding level must be considered in the development of the document. When writing about technical information, it is important to be concise and exact about your subject matter. The task assigned may be in the form of a help document for a piece of software or a machine or it may concern a process or way of performing a task. User manuals, assembly instructions, analysis reports or summaries of lengthy reports are all types of technical writing.
Technical writing rarely, if ever, is done in a manner that personalizes it. There are never references to the first person. The structure of the text is always done in a detached or third party reference point. The text is geared to teach information; therefore, the tone is that of a teacher instructing a student in the subject. This at times may appear as simply a list of steps to take to achieve the desired goal or may be a short or lengthy explanation of a concept or abstract idea.
Most technical writers are not experts in the field about which they write about. They must gather the information from others that are experts. They may also obtain information about their topic from technical documents, reports, references and manuals. Upon synthesizing all the information gained, the writer must gauge their audience and the background that the reader has in the field being written about. Higher levels of education or experience will allow the document to be written referring to concepts, abbreviations, acronyms and terms commonly used in those that work in that field. For audiences that are determined to be novices or not familiar in the field, the writer must do much more explanation and education about the basics. He must assume that the audience has no knowledge in the topic about which he is writing. Depending on the type of document, these considerations may be more or less important. An example is a step-by-step guide for performing a specific task with a piece of software. As long as a person can follow written instructions, the document doesn’t require much technical description to accomplish the job, but for the more knowledgeable the descriptions can include shortcut keys that can aid in the speed of the task. For audiences that are experts in their own rights in fields that are closely related to the topic, the degree of technical terms, acronyms and abbreviations is much broader. Many of the terms and techniques can be stated instead of explaining them. More than 95% of the readers will understand what is described and discussed. Due to this familiarity of your audience, it makes the job of the writer much simpler.
Flexibility of location is a distinct advantage to being a technical writer. As a technical writer the location where the writing is performed is unimportant. Working from home or some other remote location can satisfy the requirements of most employers. There is little need to be based in an office at the employer’s site. In the fast paced markets of today, it can be more advantageous for an employer to pay the employee as an independent contractor both logistically and financially. Provided that a writer can keep their deliverable documents on time and be available for quick turn around jobs, this career could be an ideal match for those with writing abilities looking to work from home.