Technical writers transfer technical knowledge to audiences who do not have it. That means the technical writer must have the ability to learn new concepts quickly, perform research and testing, and gather information from subject matter experts and existing documentation. A technical, scientific, or engineering background provides a strong foundation for technical writing.
Technical writing differs from academic writing and copywriting. Technical writing includes
Effective technical writing is clear, concise, complete, and accurate. Information must meet the needs of the reader without extraneous details. The right combination of media must be used to convey the information. Information must be organized logically and presented properly. Supporting illustrations must be created.
Technical writers must often edit the work of other writers, using industry-specific terminology. Good technical writing uses correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation, while following industry and company style guides. Technical writing should employ active voice and avoid common errors like sentence fragments, faulty parallelism, and inconsistencies. Writers must keep sentences and paragraphs short and use strong headings.
Technical writers often work in teams, which creates a need for well-defined processes and procedures. Strong processes ensure quality and consistency, and are tightly integrated with the toolsets used to develop technical communication products. Organizations increasingly recognize the importance of information management strategies that reduce costs and improve consistency through content reuse, content management, single-sourcing, and use of markup languages.
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