15 Different Types of Technical Writing
If you have a good grasp of writing, and researching a topic for hours does not put you off, then technical writing might be a thing for you. Involving some crazy tasks of avid researching and conversion of complex technical documents into simpler ones, technical writing is the need of the hour. It is not only industry-based but also the most lucrative skill in the market. Owing to the recent technological revolution, our workplaces have gone through a transformative change. Technology has radicalized the entire way of communication, where artificial intelligence has taken complete hold. In such times as these, the industry demand for professional technical writers is sky-high.
According to the U. S Bureau of Labor Statics, the employment rate of technical writers is predicted to grow up to 12% from 2020 to 2030. It is a pace much faster than the average of all other occupations combined.
Technical writing is a process of writing to convert complex technical and specialized information, filled with incompressible content and jargon, into a clear, understandable form. It acts deliberately to communicate complicated information to audiences who may or may not be familiar with these technical definitions.
It encompasses complete documentation of complex technical processes. It is typically used in the fields of engineering, robotics, computer hardware and software, electronics, medicine, and finance. Where modern references to technical communications and writing as a profession date back to the times of the First World War, a field of writing as artistic and investigative as technical writing was prevalent since the ancient period of the Renaissance.
Leonardo da Vinci was the most famous technical writer of all time, who wrote ‘user manuals’ back in the days for his unique inventions)
Skills Needed for Technical Writing
To become a successful technical writer, an individual should be proficient with some core set of skills. Following is the list of top technical writing skills every technical writer should possess:
Excellent Writing skills
The job role of a technical writer involves the documentation of complex concepts into easy, comprehensible language, and to serve this purpose, an individual is needed to be proficient with their writing skills. As most of the work that technical writers usually come across involves highly technical software documentation, they should be good with their critical thinking ability. This can only be achieved by someone who is not just good at writing but deft enough to convert complicated ideas into an understandable and persuasive form.
Keen interest in Science and Technology
A job, as fascinating as that of a technical writer, involves writing for many complex industries like engineering, medical, pharmaceutical, aerospace, and many such technical industries. A Technical writer is required to be acquainted with the core concepts of their industry to transform all the technical terminologies into simpler forms. Ideally, a technical writer shall always track the latest news and trends in the spheres of science and tech to develop technological skills.
The process of technical writing cannot begin without extensive research. Each technical document uses feedback from end-users and subject matter experts. A technical writer’s job is to conduct avid research throughout the whole process of technical documentation to write such persuasive speech as effectively approaches its target audience.
Even though the job of a technical writer is assumed to be a desk job, technical writers are generally needed to communicate well with all the other departments to create content for diverse target audiences. They are required to work collaboratively with the editors, designers, developers, and other employees of the other departments as well.
Besides all the other skills, a technical writer is needed to critically analyze, edit, format, and consistently improve their content to tailor it for its target audience. Technical writers often proofread their content and review it for spelling and punctuation, structure and style, tone of voice, and technical vocabulary.
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Technical writing is the most in-demand skill in the industry which is consistently leading to a higher graph. People understand its significance nowadays and are becoming more serious about it as a career path. In India as well, the demand for technology is increasing in areas of innovation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. As a result, technical writing has become increasingly important. It is one of the most lucrative and well-paying jobs in the industry.
A Technical Writer can Take up Various Job Titles as:
- Content developers
- Content writers
- Documentation specialists
- Information designers
- Information developers
- Manual writers
- Policy writers
- Technical communications specialists
- Technical communicators
- Technical illustrators
- Technical trainers
- Web writers
Types of Technical Writing
1. White Papers
A white paper is a type of technical writing report or guide that concisely informs its readers about a complex problem and provides a solution to it. Originally this term originated a century ago as a type of industry report, published by certain departments of the UK government.
Nowadays, white papers have become increasingly common in the business domain. Marketers create whitepapers to educate the audience about a particular issue or to promote a certain rationale. A B2B white paper is a marketing presentation. It is a form of content designed to persuade customers or partners and promote a certain product or viewpoint.
2. Case Studies
Case studies are research methodologies, which allow in-depth, multi-faceted explorations of complicated issues in real-life settings. This well-recognized type of technical writing tool is used to create positive publicity in some of the most popular fields of business, law, policy, and even health research. These written analyses of real-life situations attempt to draw patterns in a data so that generalization and trends from a data set could be recognized.
Case Studies are most commonly featured in scientific journals. In its nature, they are pretty similar to white papers although the latter is more technically detailed in their nature. Simply put, they both are written to persuade a reader about the effectiveness of a product, service, or company.
Case Studies are of 3 Main Types:
- Corporate Case Study
- Comparative Case Study
- Issue Case Study
Here is a Guide to Technical Report Writing skills
3. Technical Proposals
A Technical proposal is one of the most important types of technical writing. It is a document containing an introduction to the product, the crucial explanation of how it could solve the problem of the recipient of the user, the company’s execution plan, and the important technical details of the deal.
Some key features of a technical proposal are its clarity, accuracy, and brevity. Technical Proposal writing involves translating technical requirements into a consumer-facing proposal used for promoting one’s solution or offerings.
They can be divided into 2 parts:
- Business or Sales Proposal: A sales proposal or a business proposal is one of the types of technical writing document or a written sales pitch created to outline a new idea, service, or product. It is used to attract potential clients and customers to buy a particular product or service. They are also called business proposals, project proposals, or executive summaries.
- Research Proposals: A research proposal is a brief and coherent summary of the proposed research. It sets out the questions or issues that this particular research might address. It then includes the reasons why this topic is worth researching, the general area of its study, the current state of understanding or awareness, and in the end the solutions it intends to answer.
API short for ”Application Programming Interface” is a set of rules and specifications via which a software program can access the services and resources supplied by another software program. API is a type of communication channel via which two distinct programs communicate and share resources.
Depending upon the different mediums and services it provides, APIs can be broadly divided into 3 groups:
- Software API – It provides access to the functions and services of other software.
- SCPI (Hardware API) – SCPI short for Standard Commands for Programmable Instruments is a set of rules and specifications used to control programmable tests and measurable devices.
- Web API – Web APIs are APIs that provide access to services and functions of a website or a web service.
A technical writer doing the job of API Documentation describes the entire process of effectively using a Software, Hardware, or Web API. A technical writer with a basic understanding of programming usually creates instructions, procedures, and examples that are delivered with a software product in such types of technical writing.
5. SDK Documentation
SDK stands for Software Development Kit. It is a set of software development tools that are used in developing various applications for devices or certain operating systems. Some of the most popular SDK examples are The Windows 7 SDK and the iPhone SDK.
SDK Documentations are the types of technical writing that collect supporting documents designed to assist the client in integrating with the target system. An SDK implies a wider documentation coverage of a specific project. Initially written for each SDK module, the documents are then reproduced alongside the ready-made modules during the integration process. The primary duty of these documents is to simplify complex things for the developers.
To get hands-on training, check out the best Online Technical Writing Courses
6. Technical Manuals
A technical manual is a ”how-to guide or manual’. These types of technical writing are created with a single objective of making it simple for the end-user to comprehend the technicality of using a certain product or service.
Technical manuals can be broadly divided into 4 types:
- Customer Support Manuals: These modules are primarily designed for their use by the customers of a product. These documents can be anything from an online wiki, help desk article, and training manuals to user guides and customer support handbooks. It details the procedure of how to use a particular product to a customer.
- Organization Support Manuals: These documents include procedure docs, reference guides, maintenance manuals, and employee handbooks. They prove to be of great help to all the employees in any organization.
- Marketing Support Manuals: Things like product explanation videos, infographics, landing pages, etc. fall under this category of documents that help the marketing and sales team to effectively market a product.
- IT Support Manuals: These support documents are used to guide the IT team of a company to do their job efficiently. They include technical specifications of a product, related glossary, software development, etc.
7. Repair Manuals
Repair manuals or service manuals are such documents that contain the information on how to perform routine maintenance or even needed repair of vehicles, computer hardware, technological gadget, or electrical appliance. This type of technical writing includes maintenance charts, step-by-step repair instructions, and overhaul procedures alongside helpful diagrams, photographs, and illustrations to be of help to customs at crucial times.
8. User Guides
Whenever you purchase software, install a computer peripheral, or buy a technological gadget or an electronic appliance, it comes with a physical or digital copy user guide that explains how to use it. Such types of technical writing usually include instructions related to assembly, troubleshooting, a do’s and don’ts list, warranty, and legal disclaimers. Technical writers of these documents interpret complex technical data and present it in a very lucrative and user-friendly form.
Here is a complete guide to becoming a Certified Technical Writer
9. Technical Reports
A Technical report, also known by the name, a scientific report, is one of the types of technical writing document describing the complete process, progress, and result of technical or scientific research. It discusses the current state of ongoing technical or scientific research. And towards its end, a technical report also includes recommendations and conclusions of the research.
Technical reports can be of many forms like feasibility reports, primary research reports, business plans and prospectuses, short-form proposals, and press releases. Technical writers organize and edit them for clarity and brevity.
10. Project Plans
A project plan, one of the important types of technical writing, is also known as a project management plan. It deals with a series of such formal documents, defining all the details of a project from the very start to the end. Such a plan involves consideration for risk management, resource management, and communications while addressing various other subjects like the scope, cost, and schedule baselines of a plan.
These types of technical writing involve the documentation of complex project plans that require avid research and accuracy or brevity in writing style.
11. Business Plans
A business plan is an extremely crucial type of document for an entity either starting its business operations or seeking funding to establish itself in a more significant way. It is one of the most important types of technical writing document for business partners who must agree on their plans, government officials who must approve those plans, and potential investors such as banks or private individuals looking to fund that particular business.
These detailed documents contain projections on expenditures, losses, and profit margins with a complete analysis of various marketing strategies and the professional and financial background of the owner. Requiring high technical, financial, and operational research, these documents need proficient technical writers to write them.
12. Test Schedules
All the steps, tasks, dates, and responsibilities involved in software testing are explained through the help of test schedules. These schedules are variably used to plan for and assign resources, such as the equipment and the engineers required to successfully run a test.
Constant testing allows to catch issues effectively and before time. Reducing the risk associated with software development, these test schedules help in preventing many accidents.
A technical writer prepares, reviews, and maintains such types of technical writing schedules and many other documents including software and systems engineering, system operations, and user documentation to facilitate an easeful functioning.
Also Check: Technical Writing Courses in India
13. Corporate Reports
Among several different kinds of corporate reports, this is one of the types of technical writing of a particular corporate entity, that requires meticulous research and presentation of facts in such a manner as could be easily understood by numerous levels of employees, executives, and shareholders.
These reports containing graphs and charts for comparison are precisely designed by technical writers. These reports contain major elements of economics and social or business practicality.
14. Policies and Procedures
Companies all over the world, irrespective of their size, have some policy and procedure guidelines to govern their organization. Companies also possess employee handbooks or company policy manuals to help protect themselves against lawsuits from employees who might claim that they weren’t aware of certain rules and regularities.
The main job role of technical writers involves presenting these set instructions in a clear, comprehensible form. They are needed to express the non – discriminatory terms of a company policy in an understandable form.
15. RFPs & Proposals
A request for proposal (RFP), also known as a business document, announces, describes, and solicits bids from qualified contractors to complete a project. RFPs are preferred by most organizations and are used by many governments. An RFP is issued by any organization to communicate a need for services.
It generally invites interested vendors to submit the proposals and meet the specified needs. Since a proposal must be highly persuasive, excellent technical writers are required to take this responsibility in hand. The writer is needed to keep the intended audience uppermost in mind while persuasively producing its plan of action.
Q. How hard is technical writing?
Technical writing is the art of communicating complex information to an audience with varying amounts of familiarity with the subject. It requires such documentation as could easily convey all the complicated industry-specific ideas to the end-user in a clear, comprehensible form. Hence, technical writers work hard on difficult projects that demand great effort in extensive research, examining tons of data.
Q. Do technical writers get paid well?
Technical writing is one of the most in-demand skills in India for the last 3-4 years. It possesses the potential of becoming one of the mainstream industries in the next 10 years. The average salary of a technical writer is around 5.7 lakh per year, with salaries varying depending on the industry type, experience & skill set of the writer.
Q. What is the minimum qualification to become a technical writer?
Though graduation or post-graduation is not a must to become a technical writer, employers generally prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in English, communications, journalism, or any such field. Technical writing jobs also require candidates to know all the technicalities of their field, such as engineering or information technology.
Advancements in science and technology have significantly impacted our lives. In this era, the entire world has become a global village and some of the most critical roles in communication, business, medicine, security, and entertainment have been taken by AI-driven technology. In such times as this technical communication becomes imperative, and here comes the most crucial role of a technical writer. Wielding a magical wand, a technical writer transforms complex technical jargon into the clearest and most comprehensible form.
Throughout the article, we tried to shed some light on the different types of technical writing. In the end, we would like to point out that technical writing is one of the most creatively challenging but rewarding fields. It gives you a chance to form your career in the most lucrative fields. Just a simple interest in writing and research along with constant practice can lead you to significant heights.