What is technical writing?

Technical writing is a practical style of writing intended to communicate with precision and accuracy. Technical writers prepare documents for business, scientific and digital projects. A page of instructions, a website and a 300-page manual are all examples of technical writing.

As a technical writer, I understand the purpose and audience for each document. I combine my experience with research skills and credible resources. I am picky about the details including document structure, illustrations and word choice. Technical writing done well is easy to understand.

Technical writing process

When technical writing, I first consider context. I research:

  • what is my topic
  • who is my audience
  • why do they care
  • where the information will be used
  • when is it needed

Armed with this information, I write about the topic in the proper context.

Organizing information

Organization is key to technical writing. I find needed information and put it in a logical order. Technical writing starts with information the reader already has then adds new information. The starting point and level of detail vary depending on the discourse community.

Discourse community

Technical writers adapt their words to suit a range of audiences from the layperson to the expert. In technical writing, an audience is called a discourse community.

A discourse community shares:

  • common knowledge
  • identity symbols
  • trust and credibility amongst the group
  • language and the way it is used

Part of my job is to understand the communication conventions of the target discourse community. I write to match these conventions as well as the formality or informality of the group.

End result

As a technical writer, I collaborate with clients to pull all of these elements together. The documents created share accurate, timely information. That exchange of communication benefits both customers and businesses.