It is important to understand the various properties of technical writing, since this style of writing is very different from other genres. Technical writing is a type of writing where the author is writing about a particular subject that requires direction, instruction, or explanation.
How to Be a Good Technical Writer
The task of technical writing is not difficult, however, in order to write this sort of material well, there are some basic properties of technical writing that you must keep in mind:
Know Your Audience
Some technical writing is geared towards experts in the field, while other pieces of technical writing may be used to teach novices in the same field.
- When it comes to writing for those that are experts in the field, the job of the technical writer is made a bit simpler due to the fact that the expert will understand certain abbreviations, acronyms, and lingo that directly applies to such a field.
- The novice will not understand in the same manner and, therefore, every detail must be explained and spelled out for them.
Another thing that a technical writer must remember is that the writing is never personal.
- Technical writing is always written from a third person perspective and is always written in the manner of a teacher instructing a student.
- Technical writing is never emotional and any opinions should be omitted.
- The writing should be straightforward, to the point, and as simple as possible to make sure the reader understands the process or instruction.
Importance of Research
The final element of knowing how to perform technical writing well is knowing how to research.
- Technical writing requires that the writer gather information from a number of sources, understand the information gathered so that it can be analyzed thoroughly, and then put the information into an easy to understand format so that the information can teach or instruct those that read it.
- The more inexperienced your audience, the more information you will need to gather and explain. This is another reason why knowing your audience from the beginning is essential to writing well from a technical perspective.
The basic properties of technical writing include knowing your audience, do your research and ensure that the writing provides clear direction, instruction or explanation.
Technical Writing Explains a Concept
According to the Dictionary, the definition of technical writing is:
The description of scientific and computer-related activities.
When technical writing is done to explain a concept "clearly" to the non-technical person, it is one of the most difficult writing tasks a person can undertake.
Subjects Found in Technical Writing
The subject of technical writing can either be:
- Something that can be seen or touched, such as a computer or software program, or
- Something more abstract, like a series of steps that aren't related to a tangible object. One example of this might be steps required to complete an office process.
Some examples of technical writing include:
- Instruction manuals
- Policy manuals
- Process manuals
- User manuals
- Reports of analysis
- Instructions for assembling a product
- A summarization of a long report that highlights and shortens the most important elements
Regardless of the type of document which is written, technical writing requires the author to follow the properties of knowing their audience, writing in a clear, non-personal style and doing extensive research on the topic. By including these properties, the author can create clear instruction and explanation to the reader.