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What is Technical Writing? (+How It's Effective)

November 14, 2019

Sometimes, our most valuable skills are the ones we don’t even realize we have.

For example, every day we take millions of data points and observations, transforming them into digestible stories for ourselves. We take what we see in the world and make something of it, be it a small significance or a big takeaway.

This is a highly valuable skill in any workforce. Almost every career will task employees with observation, research, or the data analysis process in some way or another, and communicating that data to others through stories, charts, or other tasks is vital to relaying it accessibly to an audience.

Life as a technical writer is one of these careers.

Technical writing: how it works, examples, and careers

If you work in a technical field, you probably perform technical writing at some point during your day-to-day tasks. However, there is a craft to this type of writing that can easily be overlooked. Let’s go over some of the why and how of technical writing, as well as examples.

How technical writing is effective

Technical writing can communicate complex technical information to readers not trained on specific jargon using reliably simple and understandable diction. The writing style is clear and direct, never straying too far from the facts of the matter at hand and what the reader needs to know. Simplifying technical information can provide a big benefit to any reader, regardless of prior background knowledge. Some will be looking for a step-by-step tutorial for a particular technical task, and others will be able to find the refresher they need in the ways you can simplify the complexities of the technical information your writing conveys. Also, feel free to use AI writing software to make sure your grammar and communication skills are clear enough while writing about these complex topics.

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The two pillars of technical writing are professionalism and accessibility. Professionalism ensures that the writing is at a standard where the most important aspects of what you’re trying to communicate at the forefront. Accessibility allows for the text to be read by a wide variety of readers from different industries and backgrounds that want to learn more about the topic at hand.

Examples of technical writing

Technical writing can range from providing instructions about how to use a computer application on a website to laying out the steps in a medical procedure in a help file.

One common example of technical writing is a user manual. A user manual typically accompanies a piece of technology, such as a television or video game console, and communicates in easy terms for users to understand how to use the technology. User manuals can contain images, charts, and step-by-step chronological information related to setting up the technology for use. A skilled technical writer is able to take the complexities of this piece of technology and simplify the steps it takes for a user to get the most out of their device.

Another example of technical writing is an employee handbook. In most cases, companies will have a number of rules and regulations pertaining to how employees should conduct themselves in the workplace. A technical writer converts these policies into an easy-to-read employee handbook that properly communicates the rules and regulations at hand without overwhelming a new employee.

Technical writing careers

Getting into technical writing requires clear and concise communication skills. Some background familiarity with the topics you write on can help; however, it is not necessary. One key benefit of technical writing is that the more you write on a particular subject, the more research you must do on it and the more of an expert you become. Building out technical topics in which you want to become an expert in can help not only your understanding of the material, but also your ability to communicate it clearly to your readers.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that technical writing careers are expected to increase by 8% over the next ten years. In the emerging tech, startup, and small business spaces, technical writing will increasingly be a skill demanded by employers. Outside of the tech industry, technical writers are often needed in financial, health, and academic settings as well.

Start writing

Technical writing is a skill in demand by industries that need to relay important and helpful technical information to a wide reader base. If you’re looking to get into writing, or have a strong writing background and are looking for a career in business or a freelance writing job, consider technical writing as a way to highlight your skills while helping readers of all backgrounds and interests learn about complex topics.

What is Technical Writing? (+How It's Effective) This guide to technical writing explores its key elements and how it's useful in your career.
Rob Browne Rob is a former content associate at G2. Originally from New Jersey, he previously worked at an NYC-based business travel startup. (he/him/his)

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