Giving a definition for technical writing is difficult because it is such a diverse field. Essentially, it is the genre of writing that encompasses how-to manuals and other texts intended to explain how to achieve a goal. The user manual that came with your refrigerator and the instructions explaining how to assemble your TV stand are examples of technical writing. As technology advances and the average person needs to know more and more about topics outside of his skill set, the demand for and importance of technical writers is growing.
What skills does a technical writer need?
A technical writer must have many skills in order to research the subject about which he is writing, and he must execute a document that is concise and specific, yet simple enough for laymen to understand. Many technical writers work directly with engineers or other experts in a specific field in order to gain the information necessary to complete their writing. This requires people skills, organizational skills, interview skills and the ability to learn quickly. Though the technical writer does not necessarily have to be an expert in the field about which he is writing, he must be able to grasp the concepts and goals well enough to absorb the information and relay it to the public.
Is technical writing similar to other writing careers?
Though it may seem obvious, a technical writer also must possess writing skills. The skill set of a technical writer, however, is different from other writers such as authors or journalists. Whereas for the latter the focus may be on literary flair and flourishes, for a technical writer the only goal is to explain the task at hand, whatever it may be, as clearly as possible. Though most technical writers have a degree in either communications, journalism or English, they are increasingly getting educations in other specialized fields, such as engineering or business.
Another function of technical writers is to help guide a product through its fledgling stages and into production. They work to conduct usability tests and oversee the assembly of whatever charts and graphs are necessary to help the user with the product.
As technology advances, the importance of-and employability of-technical writers is growing. It is an expanding field full of opportunities.
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