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Home › Writing › What is Technical Writing? › 5 Types of Technical Writing
5 Types of Technical Writing
Become a Certified Technical Writer
TABLE OF CONTENTS
From detail-oriented technical reports to extensively researched white papers, the examples of technical writing span dozens of industries and operations.
Additionally, this genre of content is so commonplace that we all come across several types of technical documents at every step of our life and career.
It’s an expansive field, filled with countless niches of its own. However, for the sake of clarity, here are the 5 most prevalent types of technical writing that you can adopt as a career. If you’re interested in learning via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.
Five Types of Technical Writing in 2023
From detail-oriented technical reports to extensively researched white papers, examples of technical writing span dozens of industries and operations.
Additionally, this genre of content is so commonplace that we all come across several types of technical documents at every step of our life and career.
It’s an expansive field filled with countless niches of its own. However, for the sake of clarity, here are the five most prevalent forms of technical writing that you can adopt as a career.
Medical and Scientific Papers
Technical writing within the medical and science realm comes under the traditional technical writing umbrella.
This was the first example of taking technical information and modifying it to make it understandable for a specific audience.
Researchers use this academic to interpret their findings, organize and condense them into engaging content, and publish it in various journals, newsletters, and online platforms.
The skill requirements for medico-scientific papers include:
- Exceptional attention to detail, especially when breaking down high-value experiments and findings
- A high level of accuracy when inserting names, dates, citations, etc.
- Effective organizational skills, especially when taking all the raw data and organizing it into a user-friendly content form
- A flair for authority and credibility that lends itself very well to academics in general
User Manuals and Assistance Guides
User guides are a common form of technical writing that even non-technical professionals encounter.
This type looks to answer specific usage-related questions for consumer products and improve the end-user experience for everyone.
User help guides mean breaking down the product into its constituent parts, explaining how each part functions, and answering questions about each piece’s solutions. Furthermore, it involves answering queries as consumers use the product for an extended period.
If you’re interested in technical writing for user guides and other technical documentation, check out our Technical Writing Certification Course.
Common skill requirements for the technical writing of user guides include:
- Thorough knowledge of how to organize instruction manuals into stages and sections based on how the product works
- A knack for creating solution-oriented content that perfectly explains how to solve a specific problem
- Complete understanding of each product
- A direct and no-frills style with clear and concise points and minimal use of fluff or filler content
Product manual or repair manual writers can find jobs with a wide range of employers, from copywriting firms to production companies. However, it’s a somewhat limited field of technical writing, so look for an employer that offers progressive growth when applying for a job in this genre.
Books and Guides by Technical Writers
Writing technical books and long-form guides is different from the previous genre due to the length of the content, its conceptual nature, and the amount of detail they go into.
This type of writing extends a simple user guide. It talks about the intentions and purpose behind the product (usually software products).
Interestingly, even though they are more detailed, technical books have to be written so that any user can comprehend them.
The skill requirements for writing this form of technical documentation include:
- The ability to transform complex, jargon-heavy information into simplified and informative content
- Complete understanding of the formatting, structure, pacing, and length that’s ideal for these technical documents
- Knowledge of when and how to insert visual aids such as graphs, images, and tables to make the content more engaging
- Some experience in writing long-form content on a variety of subjects
These books can also take the form of troubleshooting guides for software programs. In this role, they have to account for all the possible problems the program could run into and explain solutions for each one.
Probably the most common form of technical writing in a company’s mechanical maintenance department, assembly and repair manuals are another niche form of technical writing.
This is due to the technical skills required to understand the disassembly and re-assembly process of a specific machine or piece of equipment. Most general repair guides contain a variety of assembly manuals for various types of machinery.
Assembly guides are different from any other form of technical communication because most (if not all) companies require you to have the ability to perform disassembly.
The skill requirements for assembly manuals and guides include:
- A theoretical and practical understanding of the equipment and repair processes involved
- Experience working with and repairing machinery of a similar type or function
- Ability to research (to find better, more efficient disassembly and repair processes)
- Extensive knowledge of how production lines work and how to keep the machinery operating optimally
While it’s true that most companies are looking for a technician with writing skills, some accept career writers when they’re willing to learn about processes.
Technical Documents, Reviews, and Reports
Corporate content development contains reviews and reports for stakeholder meetings, proposals, and business pitches.
It’s another versatile form that mixes academic reporting and technical research-based guides. Reports are technical documents that explain the process and outcome of any research, be it scientific or business-centric.
Technical reports come in several forms, such as feasibility reports, primary research reports, business plans and prospectuses, short-form proposals, press releases, case studies, etc.
- High-level understanding of the process that’s under focus, as well as how similar processes progress over time
- Complete knowledge of the product, as well as past, current, and (proposed) future operations
- The ability to communicate in a business-savvy manner while also maintaining an adequate amount of technical know-how in the content
- Excellent English language skills with an emphasis on conveying a business message
Technical reports are essential parts of corporate operations. This makes the job quite well-paying in most cases.
Technical Writing Skills in 2023
When it comes to academic skills such as writing and linguistics, there is no substitute for an education that supports the skills.
The same is mostly true for technical writing, with the only caveat being that you also need to be knowledgeable in the actual technical processes.
But simply education and technical knowledge won’t bring you career success as a technical writer in 2023. You need a few more skill pointers to become a great technical writer in this day and age.
Here they are:
- Research Skills: The ability to perform highly detailed research is the cornerstone of a successful career. Most technical writing involves some form of research and study before the actual bit. Ensure to develop the ability to research extensively and be highly observant throughout the research to find the most valuable points for your content.
- Efficient Planning: Unless you have a complete timeline to develop your technical content, you will need to learn how to manage your research, outlines, content writing, and distribution efficiency. Planning for the content ahead of time or developing a system to wrap up high-level content quickly will help you stick to deadlines without compromising quality.
- Observation Skills: Most technical content is long-form and involves many complex data points. Make sure to develop a keen sense of observation which will help you pick valuable data from a sea of random information.
- Being Tech-Savvy: Digital ages require knowledge of content development software systems in 2023, especially to develop more high-quality content in a short time. If you’re not already, be sure to take online courses in content writing software systems before applying for a job.
These technical writing skills will help you succeed in your career. Additionally, make sure that this type of content appeals to you as a technical writer and that you’re willing to explore the various sides of it throughout your career.
According to the BLS, most technical writers make over six figures a year. When technical writers take home these figures, it makes it one of the best-paying jobs in the professional field of writing and media. Technical writers are desperately needed to make communications clear, and technical writers can involve themselves in many demands to create a technical document or technical documentation.
To ensure that you go above and beyond in your career, find out where your technical marketing communication strengths lie, what technical documentation skills companies value, and apply for jobs accordingly.
If you are new to technical writing, we recommend taking our Technical Writing Certification Course . You will learn the fundamentals of being a technical writer, how to dominate technical writer interviews, and how to stand out as a technical writing candidate.
We offer a wide variety of programs and courses built on adaptive curriculum and led by leading industry experts.
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Become a Certified Technical Writer. Professionals finish the training with a full understanding of how to guide technical writer projects using documentation foundations, how to lead writing teams, and more.
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Types of Technical Writing: What the Various Types of Technical Writing Mean
Types of Technical Writing What the Various Types of Technical Writing Mean
Table of Contents
Technical writing is difficult.
It can be frightening, confusing, or overwhelming to work with the many different types of technical writing that exist today.
To make matters worse, there are plenty of people who don’t understand what these types of writing are or why they’re important for a business. They’ll ask you about functions of Microsoft Word instead of the writing and editing process because it’s easier for them to learn what the software does than how it’s supposed to be used!
That’s why I’ve created this resource for you.
It’s a list of all the major types of technical writing, including SEO for electricians , and what they mean, with advice on how to decide which type is best for your project or business.
What is technical writing?
Technical writing is the act of communicating technical information through written or visual media. It often includes explaining how a product works and what its capabilities are, whether it’s an appliance, software program, or website.
There are many different types of technical writing, such as user manuals, software installation guides, service level agreements (SLA), requests for proposals (RFP), legal disclaimers, company documents, and annual reports.
The skill set needed to be successful in this field has changed rapidly over the years because it’s an example of a whole profession that is changing quickly.
In short, technical writing is a type of writing that requires direction and instruction. There are five principles: quality content , audience and purpose, accessibility, grammar , and style . Technical writers need to be aware of these elements when developing their product so they can deliver clear instructions for the audience’s need to complete tasks successfully.
Technical writing encompasses a set of documents and manuals that are created to provide information about the product, developers, audience, and tasks. The type of technical writing can be determined by analyzing the type of document or the intended readership.
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Why should you consider technical writing?
Technical writing is a form of communication that includes documentation for products. Technical writers help readers learn about products and use them correctly by communicating complex information in an easy-to-understand format.
Technical writing is used for a specific purpose. A technical report can be broken down into sections. Technical writing can also be divided into categories by reader, industry, or type of document (e-learning vs. manual).
Technical writing can also include a report or document that describes the findings and recommendations of technical experts. It’s important to understand what this type of writing entails because it can be used in many different ways, such as summarizing an academic paper for lay people, creating a guide to software usage and functions, reporting on research conducted by scientists, or presenting data from complex systems.
The key features of any good piece include accuracy and audience-based communication; your readers need to know exactly what you’re talking about and the document needs to be easy to read. Technical writers should understand what they’re presenting well because their expertise in the field is a key factor for any good technical report or paper.
What are different types of technical writing?
Technical writers assist in creating professional reports and reviews. They work with clients to create technical documentation, business status reports, financial reports, or legal case reviews . Technical writers often have a degree in engineering or science and experience writing for publication. A marketing technical writer that operates between consumers and businesses is a type of technical writer as well.
Technical writers are tasked with presenting policy and procedures in strict formality. They must never discriminate against any individual or group of people, whether that’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or anything else. Technical writing is also helpful for case studies because it tells the story of how technical decisions were made to reach a certain outcome. Product manuals should be written using marketing documentation techniques, which can help build trust among customers by highlighting key features and benefits while avoiding superfluous information.
15 types of technical writing and examples
1. end-user documentation.
End-user documentation is written for the end user of a given product. It must be clear and concise, with specific examples that are easily understood by non-technical readers.
End-user documentation requires technical expertise. If a product or service has been created with various levels of complexity, then multiple types of end-user instructions have to be provided for the users. Examples include cell phone manuals, laptop manuals, and home networking system setup guides.
End-user documentation is written by technical writers. Technical writing is done in the software industry and for consumer electronics, home appliances, and items such as furniture that require assembly before use.
This process is very similar to what a SAAS SEO copywriting service would produce and send to their users once they make a purchase.
2. Medical technical writing
Medical technical writing is a form of technical writing that pertains to medical research, diagnosis, and treatment. It may also deal with the administration or operation of hospitals or other public health facilities.
Medical technical writing may involve clinical research or summarizing the results of a study. It might include recommendations for new treatments and therapies. It could also include writing about medical ethics and the history of medicine.
Medical technical writing can be difficult because medical terms are often complicated and specific to a field or topic. Furthermore, medical technical writing usually includes a complex sentence structure that must accurately convey information.
Examples of medical technical writing can be found on websites like Healthline or WebMD.
3. Traditional technical writing
Traditional technical writing is meant for professionals who have expertise in a subject . An expert writer has specific knowledge to share with other professionals, which is why it’s called “technical.” Technical writing could include instructional materials for software manuals or procedural documentation. Traditionally, it was limited to printed user manuals of some sort.
Traditional technical writing includes types of documents in technical writing such as software user manuals or how-to instructions for a machine.
4. Case studies
“White papers” are written to highlight a company’s success with certain products or services, an example of marketing copywriting . Case studies provide the experience of one customer and how they were met with a product that helped them achieve their business goals.
Case studies are used to show how a particular product can help you and your business. They could be written in the form of examples, testimonials, or customer reviews.
For technical case studies, you can look for the case studies by IBM on their cloud technology or IBM Watson.
5. Proposals and pitches
Technical writers can pitch and write SEO strategy for B2B companies. They prepare pitches for business plans and help to persuade readers to approve projects. Technical writers can write for different readers and industries, based on their skill set.
These technical writers are experts in persuading readers to approve projects. They also help by writing for various industries.
Brochures are a type of technical writing. Technical writers use key phrases to entice potential customers into buying products through clear descriptions and functions, which can be very useful in producing marketing emails, sales letters, or product leaflets, among other types of promotional materials.
Many companies need help with producing promotional brochures. The technical writer needs to inform potential customers of the offer being made and should also include a call-to-action for reaching out.
7. Online articles
Technical writing includes the act of communicating complex ideas and information to less technical audiences. It can be anything from assembling a crib to medical advice or historical information.
Articles with detailed medical advice or historical information are typically technical but might not always have as many visuals as those for assembling a crib.
Many blog posts on Outranking are technical in nature.
8. Press releases
Press releases are formal announcements of new information for a company’s consumers. These releases fall under the category of marketing communications, which can also include other types of technical writing such as articles, white papers, case studies, and press kits.
9. White papers
White papers are marketing tools meant to highlight the success stories of a company’s product or service. The technical writer is responsible for investigating problematic topics and integrating products from the company.
For examples of technical white papers, you can simply check https://cloud.google.com/whitepapers. This contains all the Cloud white papers published by Google.
10. Instruction manuals
There are many types of technical writing. These include instruction manuals, manuals for people who want to learn, and step-by-step guides.
The instruction manuals might be a how-to guide on using particular software or the manual for your new vacuum cleaner. These are probably the most common types of technical writing documents that we encounter in daily life.
Technical writing produces written work intended to convey technical information in an accessible format. Technical report examples include research results with recommendations and conclusions.
Although technical reports are not often peer-reviewed, academic publishers may offer some tips on how to write them. A technical report is like a primary form of a scientific paper when it’s not published in an academic journal or conference proceedings.
12. User help guides
User help guides are broken down into sections according to the type of help needed. User guides offer clear and sensible information for users about features, possibilities, and use cases. For examples, see ClickHelp’s gallery of help guides.
Or try hitting F1 on your keyboard to open the user help page of the app you’re using.
13. Technical books
Technical books typically cover a technical topic and are the most popular type of technical writing. They also tend to be more expensive than other types of technical writing.
Any coding or programming language books are great examples of technical books.
14. API documentation
Technical writers create API documentation , a crucial component for SaaS SEO tools. The documentation contains all the information required to work with the API and is used by developers. Some types of API technical writing are specific to certain industries, such as healthcare or software development. Examples and tutorials are included in documentation so that users can get started using an API quickly.
The API documentation is a technical document that provides answers to frequently asked questions, troubleshooting instructions, and how-to guides.
15. Technical descriptions
Different types of technical writing are used to communicate information about an object or process. Technical descriptions provide users with information about the product’s features and capabilities. The steps to writing a good technical description start by giving an overview of the object or process, followed by naming it and describing its function.
There are many other examples of advanced technical documents in different industries, such as architecture and engineering documents (A&E docs), help files, standard operating procedure manuals, and installation guides, which can be found online or in hard copy format with the respective company’s brand logo on them.
How to learn a form of technical writing
Technical writing is documentation for technical communication. Technical writers must develop a comprehensive understanding of their subject to produce effective, professional written work . The most successful technical writers can take on multiple types of projects with ease and professionalism, which leads to long-term career success .
Technical writing is an umbrella term that includes various documents, including marketing work. Novice tech writers can decide on what type of documentation they want to do and then learn the associated skills needed.
The 7 basic principles of technical writing?
- Know all the facts in detail on what you are going to write.
- Plan and properly structure your document.
- Think about the user first.
- Use graphics.
- Use the active voice.
- Use simple language & avoid jargon.
- Do not be boring.
Industries where technical writers are hired
- Heavy machinery and automobile industries
- Engineering industry
- Software industry
- Aerospace and aviation industry
- Consumer electronics industry
- Healthcare field
- Education sector
Technical writing is tough, so before you write anything, do ample research to know about the topic you are about to write on. You can always get help from Outranking’s SEO content software to find concepts from the top SERP results to make your technical writing faster and more accurate.
How to write a real estate blog: the ultimate guide, how to write seo product descriptions for higher rankings, how to start a sports blog: a complete step-by-step guide.
What is Technical Writing? (Types & Examples)
Ever feel lost trying to understand some complicated instructions? Doing Technical Writing is hard when papers use long words, right? Well, this blog is here to help with that. We’ll talk about how to explain confusing tech stuff simply with Technical Writing.
Technical Writing is all about making complex topics easy to understand for anyone. We read that 70% of people say documents are confusing at work. Manuals use big words, and steps don’t make sense. No wonder folks get mixed up!
But don’t worry; we’ll show you how to change all that tech talk into plain English. By the end, you’ll be great at making instructions clear. We’ll review valuable things like using everyday words, organizing info well, fixing common mistakes, and tools to help. Stick with me, and your explanation will go from bad to good! Writing things clearly will help others learn and make projects better. Wanna get started on understanding documents better? Cool, let’s dive in!
What is Technical Writing? (Definition)
Technical writing serves as a bridge between complex technical concepts and everyday readers. Its goal is to take intricate information and explain it in plain, understandable terms. Think of it as simplifying how things like scientific discoveries, engineering innovations, or medical procedures work so that anyone, regardless of their technical background, can grasp the ideas.
These writers create documents, manuals, and instructions for various technical subjects. They use straightforward language, arrange information logically, and often incorporate visuals such as charts or illustrations to enhance clarity. It’s similar to creating a recipe that is so clear and simple that anyone can prepare a gourmet dish without confusion.
Technical writing is everywhere, from the explanations of groundbreaking scientific theories to the instructions for operating medical equipment. So, the next time you come across well-structured and easy-to-follow technical content, remember that a technical writer is the unsung hero responsible for making complex subjects more accessible to everyone.
Now that we’ve uncovered the essence of technical writing let’s delve deeper into the core principles that guide this craft. In the upcoming section, “The Principles of Technical Writing,” we’ll explore the fundamental rules and strategies that make technical writing effective and accessible to all.
The Principles of Technical Writing
Technical writing is like creating a roadmap for others, helping them navigate the world of technology and information. To craft effective documentation, technical writers follow essential principles. These principles ensure that the content is clear, helpful, and accessible to everyone, no matter their technical background. In this section, we’ll explore 5 key principles guiding technical writers’ work.
- Quality of the Content: Imagine you’re baking a cake. The first rule is to use high-quality ingredients. Similarly, in technical writing, the content is like the ingredients and must be accurate and reliable. Technical writers ensure that the information they provide is correct, up-to-date, and error-free. This quality assurance ensures that readers can trust the content as a valuable resource.
- Audience: Think of this principle as speaking in a way your audience can understand. Technical writers always consider their readers – who they are and what they need. Are they beginners or experts? Do they have specific technical knowledge? By tailoring the content to the audience, technical writers ensure that readers can follow along and make sense of the information.
- Purpose: Just as every journey has a destination, every technical documentation has a purpose. Technical writers ask themselves, “Why am I writing this?” Is it to instruct, inform, persuade, or troubleshoot? This clarity of purpose helps structure the content effectively, ensuring it serves its intended goal.
- Accessibility: Accessibility is like making sure everyone can join the party. Technical writers strive to create content available to all, including those with disabilities. They use plain language, provide alternative visual formats, and ensure the content is compatible with screen readers. This inclusivity ensures that everyone can benefit from the information.
- Grammar and Writing Style: Grammar and writing style are like the colors and brushstrokes in a painting. Technical writers use clear and concise language, avoiding jargon and unnecessary complexity. They follow grammar rules to ensure the text flows smoothly and is easily read. This clarity enhances understanding and readability.
These principles are the guiding stars that illuminate the path for technical writers. Quality content ensures reliability, considering the audience and purpose helps in effective communication, accessibility makes the information available to all, and proper grammar and writing style enhance readability.
Technical writing is not just about conveying information; it’s about making it accessible and understandable. Following these principles is like laying a strong foundation, ensuring that the documentation serves its purpose effectively and becomes a valuable resource for all readers.
Now that we’ve explored the essential principles that guide technical writing let’s dive deeper into the practical applications. In the upcoming section, “Types of Technical Writing Documentation,” we’ll explore the diverse range of documents that technical writers create, from user manuals to reports.
Types of Technical Writing Documentation
Technical writing is like being the friendly guide in a tech jungle, helping people understand and use all sorts of stuff. Technical writers create different types of guides to make life easier for everyone. Let’s dive into these guides and see what they’re all about.
- End User Documentation: This is like the instruction manual for your new toy, but written so anyone can understand it. It takes tricky tech stuff and explains it in simple words. Think of it as a map for a treasure hunt, showing you the way step by step. You’ll find these guides in user helpbooks, product manuals, assembly instructions, and technical books.
- Medical Documentation: Imagine having to explain a complex medical procedure. That’s where medical documentation comes in. It’s like a detailed map for doctors and nurses. Everything needs to be super accurate and neat. It’s their guidebook to understand all those medical procedures and results. They use special software to keep everything in order.
- Traditional Documentation: This one is for the tech-savvy folks who already speak the tech language. It’s like sharing secrets within a club. These documents are for experts who know their stuff. They include manuals for software, how-to guides, maintenance manuals, and procedures. It’s like handing the keys to the tech kingdom to those who already know the way.
- Case Studies: Case studies are like success stories you tell your friends. They show how a product or service helps a business grow and succeed. It’s like a company saying, “Look at what our superhero product did!” They’re like customer reviews that explain how a solution made a business achieve its goals.
These types of technical writing documentation are like different tools in a handyman’s toolbox. They each have a job to do, whether making tech simple for regular folks, guiding medical pros, sharing secrets with experts, or celebrating success stories. Together, they ensure that tech isn’t just a mystery – it’s something we can all understand and use, like a trusty guide showing us the way.
Examples of Technical Writing
As technical writers, we get to create cool documents – It’s like living the dream. But for real – the different types of technical docs we work on are pretty neat once you get familiar with them. In this section, we’ll break down some of the most common ones, like user manuals, standard operating procedures, case studies, API docs, press releases, company documents, annual reports, and business plans. Each serves a unique purpose.
Getting to know these different document types will help expand your skills as a tech writer and make you appreciated like a pirate who can navigate any ship, so let’s get started!
1. User Manuals
User manuals provide instructions on how to use a product effectively. They are included with consumer goods like appliances, electronics, and tools. The manual outlines how to set up, operate, maintain, and troubleshoot the product. They use simple language and visuals like diagrams, photos, and screenshots to demonstrate the product’s features and functions. The goal is to help users quickly get up and running with the product and solve common issues.
2. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Standard operating procedures (SOPs) document an organization’s key processes and activities. They outline the steps, requirements, and responsibilities to complete tasks correctly and safely. SOPs aim to maintain consistency and efficiency in an organization. They reduce variability and mistakes in processes. Well-designed SOPs also make it easier to train new employees and function when staff are absent, improving organizational resilience.
3. Case Studies & White Papers
Case studies analyze a specific project or initiative to share insights and lessons learned. White papers discuss complex problems around an industry issue and provide recommendations. They are often written by subject matter experts aiming to establish thought leadership. The writing style is more long-form and persuasive than purely technical. Strong storytelling and positioning of expertise are key.
4. API Documentation
API documentation explains how developers can use an application programming interface (API) to integrate with and leverage the functionality of a software application or web tool. It provides details on each operation, its inputs and outputs, examples, and usage information. Well-documented APIs make integration easier for developers building apps and products on a platform. Clear tutorials, reference guides, and testing capabilities are important API documentation components.
5. Press Releases
Press releases are official announcements that share important news about a company. They highlight key facts, statistics, and quotes from leadership compellingly. Press releases aim to get media coverage of an event, achievement, or new offering. They follow a standard format and style used by journalists. Distributing press releases can boost an organization’s reputation and visibility.
6. Company Documents
Company documents help orient and guide employees. Typical docs include handbooks covering policies, culture, benefits, dress code, etc.; job aids outlining procedures; org charts showing structure; and manuals for technology systems. Having documentation facilitates employee onboarding and communication. It also reduces repetitive questions and institutionalizes processes and standards across an organization.
7. Annual Reports
Publicly traded companies release annual reports to shareholders summarizing their yearly financial performance and business activities. They showcase major accomplishments, products, and investments. Annual reports aim to build confidence among stockholders and the public. Writers take complex financial data and craft a compelling narrative around it through design, messaging, and readability best practices. Adding creativity helps annual reports stand out.
8. Business Plans
A business plan is like a roadmap for a startup or initiative. It outlines the concept, market opportunity, operations plan, team overview, financial projections, and other details to convey feasibility. Investors and executives rely on the business plan to evaluate providing funding and support. Writers partner closely with entrepreneurs to create plans that persuasively communicate the vision in an easy-to-digest way.
We create many types of technical documents as writers – from manuals to reports to releases and more. Each serves a distinct purpose for the organization. Now that we’ve explored some top examples, you have a better grasp of the landscape. Understanding the nuances of these document types will make you a more versatile and valued technical writer.
With this knowledge, you’ll be ready to start drafting your manuals, case studies, and business plans like a true captain of industry. But before setting sail, let’s go over some technical writing mistakes to avoid if you want smooth seas ahead. No good pirate ignores the potential storms and hazards on the horizon! Let’s explore those next.
Technical Writing Mistakes To Avoid
When sailing the seas of technical writing, it’s too easy to chart the wrong course if you’re not careful. Even seasoned navigators sometimes run into treacherous waters that can sink their meticulously penned documents. To help you steer clear of missteps, We’ve compiled a list of common technical writing mistakes, along with tips to avoid them. By being aware of potential pitfalls, you can plan a route that reaches the shores of clear communication and delighted readers. Let’s explore these mistakes so you can set your writing on a heading for success!
1. Poorly Defined Topic
It’s like getting handed a bunch of planks and nails without any picture of what you’re supposed to be building. Confusing, right? That’s how readers feel when your document topic isn’t clearly defined upfront.
We’ve all zoned out, trying to follow generic instructions without context for why we’re doing this task. Readers need to understand where they’re sailing before happily hopping aboard!
To avoid leaving your crew stranded in the harbor, clearly define your document’s purpose and subject matter immediately. Outline the goals so readers know what skills, info, or tasks they can expect to take away. Providing a roadmap helps them decide if they want to take this journey with you in the first place!
It may seem obvious to you as the expert, but don’t assume familiarity. The easier you can make it for readers to decide, “Yeah, this doc is for me!” the smoother your sailing will be from title to finish. Your crew will thank you for setting a clear course!
2. Lengthy Sentences and Big Words
When you use crazy long sentences packed with fancy schmancy words, you show off to readers instead of having a real talk. I get it; you know your stuff! But keep it simple, matey. Use plain words your audience says and keep sentences short and easy to digest.
Ditch the complex vocabulary when simpler gets the job done. Write like you’re having a friendly chat with your readers, not lecturing above their heads! Conversational language ensures your whole crew comprehends and doesn’t abandon the ship.
3. Scattered Page Layout
Imagine trying to read a book with the pages all mixed up! Paragraphs on one page and pictures somewhere else with no flow. That’s what a scattered layout feels like. As a reader, it’s frustrating not knowing where to look next. To help them out, take a minute to organize.
Group related content together under descriptive headings so it’s easy to find what they need. Keep the same styles and ensure enough white space between sections. That way, your readers can leisurely enjoy the content without straining their eyes or losing their place. A little layout love goes a long way!
4. Inadequate Content
When your technical document is missing that special something, readers leave feeling still peckish for answers, just like being served an empty plate! They came to your “menu,” hoping for a fulfilling read. But without key details, it’s like taking a bite of air.
Put yourself in their shoes – wouldn’t you want more for your time? Next, rewrite and spice it up by seasoning all questions they may have. Serve full helpings of thorough explanations so no morsel is left uneaten. Tantalize their taste for knowledge ’til their brains are fully fed.
A few extra moments of your time upfront saves dissatisfied stomachs later. Leave them smiling, not still scraping their plates and wishing for more. A hearty information feast keeps customers and readers coming back for more!
5. Inconsistent Tone
Imagine you’re having a nice chat with a friend about something important like career plans. Things are going well – you’re both engaged in a serious but respectful discussion. But then, without warning, they suddenly start clowning around and making jokes! You’d be so thrown off, like readers facing an inconsistent tone.
One moment, they’re immersed in technical details; the next, you’re going casually. It’s like whiplash! Just like in a conversation, keeping the same respectful volume throughout helps people follow along comfortably without unexpected zone-outs. Your tone sets the vibe, so take your audience’s temperature before deciding whether it is formal or fun. Then, stick to the script for a smooth read they’ll enjoy to the end.
By avoiding these mistakes and implementing these solutions, you can create technical documents that are clear, accessible, and valuable to your readers.
Now that we’ve covered some common mistakes and how to avoid them in technical writing, let’s dive into another crucial aspect of this craft. These tools can make your technical writing process more efficient and effective. Discover ‘The Most Efficient Tools for Technical Writing’ in the following section.
The Most Efficient Tools For Technical Writing
Having the right tools makes all the difference when you’re constantly writing technical materials. This section highlights some handy programs for organizing your thoughts, putting words on the page, getting feedback, and sharing your work. We’ll look at different options for docs, how-tos, manuals – whatever you need to communicate clearly about complex topics.
Writing technical content is undoubtedly a collaborative effort, but ensuring we are all on the same page can sometimes feel impossible. That’s where Bit.ai comes in – its incredibly intuitive layout makes teamwork a breeze. With its live commenting feature and conveniently embedded files, we, as remote writers, function seamlessly as a well-coordinated machine.
We also appreciate its ability to track document usage, eliminating the guesswork when determining which information is valuable. The inclusion of favorite templates further brings order to the chaos. In summary, Bit.ai efficiently manages and organizes our team of technical writers, allowing readers to stay well-informed. No more redundant work or individual edits – just smooth sailing as a dream team of documentation professionals.
Photoshop is the go-to tool for enhancing images; technical writers swear by it. It’s perfect for cleaning screenshots, creating diagrams, and beautifying web banners. With Photoshop, you can adjust colors, remove unwanted elements, and seamlessly blend multiple images. Sharing your final visuals is effortless thanks to its compatibility with various screen sizes, formats, and file types. While it may come with a price tag, the expertise and finesse it offers for photo editing make it an invaluable companion for achieving professional-level results.
When tackling complex concepts in our documentation, we rely on Visio to simplify the process. It transforms intricate workflows and tangled wiring into clear and user-friendly flowcharts and diagrams. With Visio’s extensive library of reusable shapes, we can effortlessly connect cryptic components across different systems. Its pre-made stencils enable us to swiftly select and customize boxes, resize text, and strategize the most effective layouts.
Whether wireframing websites, outlining organizational structures, or modeling intricate machinery, Visio’s intuitive building blocks clarify even the most complicated relationships. When words alone can’t convey the complexity, Visio beautifully illustrates ideas for all to comprehend.
When it comes to blogging for documentation, many tech writers rely on WordPress. Its user-friendly content management system (CMS) makes setting up documentation sites a breeze. Thanks to its effective use of posts and pages, organizing content is a breeze. Making updates, whether revamping pages or swapping screenshots, is effortless with WordPress’s convenient editing features.
No coding skills are required – add visuals, format text, and hit publish. Including features like next/previous buttons and search functionality ensures a seamless reading experience for users, allowing them to navigate through guides quickly. Overall, WordPress is a valuable tool for managing extensive handbooks with ease.
5. Adobe Framemaker
Framemaker, the OG of XML documentation! Adobe’s expert tool ensures unwavering consistency, keeping technical documents compliant with industry standards. Its DITA-centric approach simplifies the creation of extensive collections of complex and compliance-focused content.
Need every wiring diagram and component meticulously tagged to precise specifications? No problem. With pre-designed templates, text is neatly organized to meet required regulations, leaving no room for OSHA tightrope walks. Copy strict schemas, and voila! Its built-in checks swiftly identify and resolve errors, ensuring even experienced writers remain stress-free.
For precision-driven projects demanding regulated reference reign, Framemaker seamlessly fulfills documentation duties, like a tailored second skin, resulting in flawlessly polished large-scale endeavors.
These tools cater to different aspects of technical writing, offering solutions for collaboration, content creation, visual documentation, and content management, depending on the specific needs of technical writers and project requirements.
As we wrap up our journey through the world of technical writing, let’s take a moment to reflect on the ride we’ve had. We started by figuring out what technical writing means – making tricky stuff easy to grasp. Then, we picked up some handy principles to guide us on this adventure, like the North Star in the night sky.
We explored the different types of documents we might create, from manuals to reports, and we got a taste of the real deal with some practical examples. We even laughed about some common mistakes we’ve all made. After all, nobody’s perfect, right?
As we reach the end of our journey, we’ve got our trusty toolbox filled with some super helpful tools. Think of it like a superhero’s utility belt, ready to save the day. We’ve got you covered, whether it’s Bit.ai for collaboration, Snagit for showing how things work, or Adobe Framemaker for those structured documents.
So, fellow explorers in technical writing, take these lessons with you. As you venture into your writing adventures, remember to keep it simple, clear, and friendly. Your words can make the complex simple, and that’s a superpower in itself. Happy writing, and may your documents shine like beacons of understanding in a world that can sometimes be a bit cloudy.
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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.
What is Technical Writing ?
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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Scope of Technical Writing
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.
4. API Documentation
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.
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10 Types of Technical Writing
A technical writer is often tasked with writing types of documents that may include project documentation , general business writing documentation such as forms, templates, presentations, bid documentation, marketing collateral, and training materials.
Technical documents or technical communications take many forms:
- User Guides/User Manuals
- Statements of Work
- Standard Operating Procedure
- A Technical Email Sent to a Colleague
- Bid Documentation
- Marketing Collateral
- API Documentation
Let’s look at each technical documentation type in detail (just know that some overlap occurs with these documents) and a few tips to improve your technical writing skills.
1. User Guides/User Manuals
Also called a user manual, a user guide is a how-to document that breaks down key tasks and basic step-by-step instructions for the end-user to install, assemble, use, or troubleshoot a technical service or software. For example, you might receive basic assembly instructions for ARM core programming.
A wide variety of manual and guide types exist.
- Instruction manual
- Product manual
- Repair manual
- Policy manual
- Training manual
These documents are written with the assumption that the user has no technical knowledge or doesn't understand the technical terms of the topic.
2. Statements of work
A statement of work or SOW is a legally-binding document created for potential customers and breaks down the work management tasks of a project. It outlines a project’s purpose, resources, schedule, milestones, and costs .
Here's how an SOW is typically set up:
- Purpose and objectives
- Scope of work (limitations of work)
- Testing and compliance
- Cost and payment terms
These documents should be written with clear, direct language and all acronyms spelled out.
A policy outlines procedures and standards of behavior for a specific scope such as a company, product, or project. It includes requirements for the company, product, or project to succeed. An example could be a cybersecurity policy at a company.
For policies, try to use simple language rather than falling back on jargon. Remember that the document should be easy for your reader to understand.
4. Standard operating procedures
A standard operating procedure or SOP is a set of instructions on what steps to follow when performing some kind of operational task.
These steps ensure that laws, industry regulations, or a company's quality standards are met. SOPs are typically required in industries such as manufacturing, warehousing, and restaurants. SOPs involve complex topics and breaking down complicated subject matter.
Write any type of technical documentation and get instructor feedback on your actual writing.
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5. A technical email sent to a colleague
Emails can be technical writing too! For example, you might explain step-by-step how to transfer users to a license management account and how to assign licenses to a user. Or you might provide instructions on how to use a new software feature.
For a technical email, follow the same best practices that you would with any email such as including a greeting, bottom-line-on-top, headers, etc. Learn more about best email writing practices here .
A report details the results of a project. A wide range of technical reports exists. Common types of technical reports include a f easibility report, laboratory report as a medical writer, and annual report.
For example, an annual report is a comprehensive technical document that a company presents to its shareholders to describe its activities from the previous year. The formal document typically includes a report from the company's Chairperson, CEO, corporate info, mission statement, etc.
Tech specifications outline how you're going to approach a specific problem or issue. It also details the need for a solution such as a system or a project. Here's a simple example of a product specification:
With specifications, you know the unknowns like potential risks or performance issues. Specifications help with collaboration, too, because you can agree on the specifications, which improves the timeline of completing a project and prevents costly mistakes.
An end-user manual is a type of content that guides someone on how to use a product or service. These documents are written with the assumption that the user has no technical knowledge or doesn't understand the technical terms of the topic.
As with guides and reports, a wide variety of manual types exist.
9. Bid documentation
Bid documentation is technical documents that describe the elements of a construction project and are used to request proposals. Elements include estimates, specifications, and plans of a project. It gives bidders or suppliers the necessary info to place bids.
10. Marketing collateral
Marketing collateral is a type of marketing communication that shows why your company, product, or online platform is the best on the market. It's not always technical, but it can be if you're sharing about technical information such as software or hardware.
Types of marketing collateral include e-Books, case studies, and white papers. For example, an e-Book titled " Guide to C++ for Software Engineers " would be technical marketing collateral.
11. API documentation
API documentation is a reference manual on how to effectively use and integrate the application programming interface (API). It's written for technical users who want to move forward in their software development. It shares specialized knowledge and schemas for tasks for software programs.
Is technical writing different from business writing?
The many types of documents that a technical writer is required to write are so wide that there will always be overlap with business writing and each task requires discernment and a logical process to plan.
Both business and technical writing are fully framed around reader needs.
Use a formal writing process for all types of technical writing
The above list isn't exhaustive. Training materials, learning modules, and medical docs are just a few other types of technical content written by technical writers. But no matter what type of technical content you're writing, follow a formal writing process to become a better technical writer:
- Make sure your audience and purpose guide your document.
- Ensure that your categorization and sequencing are logical for the reader.
- Format your documents with headings, bullets, and visuals.
- Edit, edit, edit for accuracy.
As the demand for technical writers increases, learn how to improve your technical writing skills. Instructional Solutions offers technical writing courses to help you write effective technical documentation and become a better technical writer.
Learn how to write any technical document well in our online self-paced course.
Our technical writing courses are available for individuals and groups.
How to write effective technical documentation, 5 steps to write a technical proposal, #1 business writing recommendation for everything you write at work, get notified of new articles.
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ENGL 314: Technical Communication
Types of technical writing.
- Research Resources
- Evaluating Information
- Writing Style and Citations
- Plagiarism & Academic Integrity
This page gives examples of different genres of technical writing, including instruction manuals, proposals, reports, posters and visual communication, technical descriptions, product recalls, and white papers.
Databases with Multiple Types of Technical Documents
These databases contain research reports, progress reports, feasibility reports, proposals, technical descriptions, instruction manuals, executive summaries, and other types of technical writing. For best results, use Advanced Search and include the document type as part of a TITLE search, such as
"progress report" AND solar
then check the full text to make sure you have the type you want.
- NASA Technical Reports Server Various genres of scientific and technical information related to research created or sponsored by NASA.
- OSTI.gov Primary way to search for research results from the U.S. Department of Energy. Includes links to many government publications that are harder to find elsewhere. Advanced Search options are available for more control of search terms.
- Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Technology Research reports on Americans' attitudes and behaviors regarding technology. Most begin with a "Summary of Findings."
Instruction manuals for consumer products are easy to find with your favorite search engine; just include "instruction manual" or "product manual" with the name of the product in your search.
- Online Technical Writing: Examples, Cases & Models Links to sample instruction manuals and other examples of types of technical writing from an online writing textbook.
- PR Newswire - Consumer Technology News
- PR Newswire - Energy News
- PR Newswire - Environment News
- PR Newswire - Heavy Industry & Manufacturing News
- PR Newswire - Telecommunications News
Posters and Visual Communication
- Posters from ISU Symposium on Undergraduate Research & Creative Expression Examples of posters created by ISU students.
- Speaking Guidelines for Engineering and Science - Scientific Posters Links to sample posters and poster templates.
- Examples of Posters - Creating Effective Poster Presentations Scientific poster examples from NCSU, including critiques of the posters.
- Better Posters - Critiques Examples of the good, the bad, and the ugly in scientific posters, with suggestions for improvement.
- Radiation Dose Chart - xkcd infographic
- IKEA Search for a product, then look for Assembly to view its instructions document. IKEA focuses on visuals to avoid the need for translating text.
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission The "Recalls" section of the CPSC site lists recent product recalls.
- Recalls.gov Lists product recalls issued by six U.S. government agencies, in categories from motor vehicles to medicine.
- GrantSpace: Sample Documents Examples of grant proposals for projects in various fields.
(Can include progress, problem-solving, feasibility, laboratory, research, and recommendation reports.)
- Institute for Transportation (InTrans) Project Reports Reports from the Institute for Transportation at ISU in collaboration with the Iowa DOT.
- Laboratory Reports How-to writing page with links near the top to example laboratory reports.
- Google Patents Patents contain technical descriptions of the claimed inventions, as well as graphics illustrating the inventions.
- Apple Tech Specs Specifications/product descriptions for Apple products.
- Energy Star Product Specifications Gives requirements for products to claim the Energy Star label.
- eGain Customer Services White Papers
- Tech Republic Vendor-supplied technical white papers, accessible with free site registration.
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- Next: Research Resources >>
- Last Updated: Jul 20, 2023 12:34 PM
- URL: https://instr.iastate.libguides.com/ENGL314
Technical Writing for Beginners – An A-Z Guide to Tech Blogging Basics
If you love writing and technology, technical writing could be a suitable career for you. It's also something else you can do if you love tech but don’t really fancy coding all day long.
Technical writing might also be for you if you love learning by teaching others, contributing to open source projects and teaching others how to do so, too, or basically enjoy explaining complex concepts in simple ways through your writing.
Let's dive into the fundamentals and learn about what you should know and consider when getting started with technical writing.
Table of Contents
In this article, we’ll be looking at:
- What Technical writing is
Benefits of Technical Writing
- Necessary skills to have as a Technical Writer
The Technical Writing Process
- Platforms for publishing your articles
Technical Writing Courses
- Technical Writing forums and communities
- Some amazing technical writers to follow
- Final Words and references
What is Technical Writing?
Technical writing is the art of providing detail-oriented instruction to help users understand a specific skill or product.
And a technical writer is someone who writes these instructions, otherwise known as technical documentation or tutorials. This could include user manuals, online support articles, or internal docs for coders/API developers.
A technical writer communicates in a way that presents technical information so that the reader can use that information for an intended purpose.
Technical writers are lifelong learners. Since the job involves communicating complex concepts in simple and straightforward terms, you must be well-versed in the field you're writing about. Or be willing to learn about it.
This is great, because with each new technical document you research and write, you will become an expert on that subject.
Technical writing also gives you a better sense of user empathy. It helps you pay more attention to what the readers or users of a product feel rather than what you think.
You can also make money as a technical writer by contributing to organizations. Here are some organizations that pay you to write for them , like Smashing Magazine , AuthO , Twilio , and Stack Overflow .
In addition to all this, you can contribute to Open Source communities and participate in paid open source programs like Google Season of Docs and Outreachy .
You can also take up technical writing as a full time profession – lots of companies need someone with those skills.
Necessary Skills to Have as a Technical Writer
Understand the use of proper english.
Before you consider writing, it is necessary to have a good grasp of English, its tenses, spellings and basic grammar. Your readers don't want to read an article riddled with incorrect grammar and poor word choices.
Know how to explain things clearly and simply
Knowing how to implement a feature doesn't necessarily mean you can clearly communicate the process to others.
In order to be a good teacher, you have to be empathetic, with the ability to teach or describe terms in ways suitable for your intended audience.
If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself. Albert Einstein
Possess some writing skills
I believe that writers are made, not born. And you can only learn how to write by actually writing.
You might never know you have it in you to write until you put pen to paper. And there's only one way to know if you have some writing skills, and that's by writing.
So I encourage you to start writing today. You can choose to start with any of the platforms I listed in this section to stretch your writing muscles.
And of course, it is also a huge benefit to have some experience in a technical field.
Analyze and Understand who your Readers are
The biggest factor to consider when you're writing a technical article is your intended/expected audience. It should always be at the forefront of your mind.
A good technical writer writes based on the reader’s context. As an example , let's say you're writing an article targeted at beginners. It is important not to assume that they already know certain concepts.
You can start out your article by outlining any necessary prerequisites. This will make sure that your readers have (or can acquire) the knowledge they need before diving right into your article.
You can also include links to useful resources so your readers can get the information they need with just a click.
In order to know for whom you are writing, you have to gather as much information as possible about who will use the document.
It is important to know if your audience has expertise in the field, if the topic is totally new to them, or if they fall somewhere in between.
Your readers will also have their own expectations and needs. You must determine what the reader is looking for when they begin to read the document and what they'll get out of it.
To understand your reader, ask yourself the following questions before you start writing:
- Who are my readers?
- What do they need?
- Where will they be reading?
- When will they be reading?
- Why will they be reading?
- How will they be reading?
These questions also help you think about your reader's experience while reading your writing, which we'll talk about more now.
Think About User Experience
User experience is just as important in a technical document as it is anywhere on the web.
Now that you know your audience and their needs, keep in mind how the document itself services their needs. It’s so easy to ignore how the reader will actually use the document.
As you write, continuously step back and view the document as if you're the reader. Ask yourself: Is it accessible? How will your readers be using it? When will they be using it? Is it easy to navigate?
The goal is to write a document that is both useful to and useable by your readers.
Plan Your Document
Bearing in mind who your users are, you can then conceptualize and plan out your document.
This process includes a number of steps, which we'll go over now.
Conduct thorough research about the topic
While planning out your document, you have to research the topic you're writing about. There are tons of resources only a Google search away for you to consume and get deeper insights from.
Don't be tempted to lift off other people's works or articles and pass it off as your own, as this is plagiarism. Rather, use these resources as references and ideas for your work.
Google as much as possible, get facts and figures from research journals, books or news, and gather as much information as you can about your topic. Then you can start making an outline.
Make an outline
Outlining the content of your document before expanding on it helps you write in a more focused way. It also lets you organize your thoughts and achieving your goals for your writing.
An outline can also help you identify what you want your readers to get out of the document. And finally, it establishes a timeline for completing your writing.
Get relevant graphics/images
Having an outline is very helpful in identifying the various virtual aids (infographics, gifs, videos, tweets) you'll need to embed in different sections of your document.
And it'll make your writing process much easier if you keep these relevant graphics handy.
Write in the Correct Style
Finally, you can start to write! If you've completed all these steps, writing should become a lot easier. But you still need to make sure your writing style is suitable for a technical document.
The writing needs to be accessible, direct, and professional. Flowery or emotional text is not welcome in a technical document. To help you maintain this style, here are some key characteristics you should cultivate.
Use Active Voice
It's a good idea to use active voices in your articles, as it is easier to read and understand than the passive voice.
Active voice means that the subject of the sentence is the one actively performing the action of the verb. Passive voice means that a subject is the recipient of a verb's action .
Here's an example of passive voice : The documentation should be read six times a year by every web developer.
And here's an example of active voice : Every web developer should read this documentation 6 times a year.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Word choice is important. Make sure you use the best word for the context. Avoid overusing pronouns such as ‘it’ and ‘this’ as the reader may have difficulty identifying which nouns they refer to.
Also avoid slang and vulgar language – remember you're writing for a wider audience whose disposition and cultural inclinations could differ from yours.
Avoid Excessive Jargon
If you’re an expert in your field, it can be easy to use jargon you're familiar with without realizing that it may be confusing to other readers.
You should also avoid using acronyms you haven't previously explained.
Here's an Example :
Less clear: PWAs are truly considered the future of multi-platform development. Their availability on both Android and iOS makes them the app of the future.
Improved: Progressive Web Applications (PWAs) are truly the future of multi-platform development. Their availability on both Android and iOS makes PWAs the app of the future.
Use Plain Language
Use fewer words and write in a way so that any reader can understand the text. Avoid big lengthy words. Always try to explain concepts and terms in the clearest way possible.
A wall of text is difficult to read. Even the clearest instructions can be lost in a document that has poor visual representation.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. This rings true even in technical writing.
But not just any image is worthy of a technical document. Technical information can be difficult to convey in text alone. A well-placed image or diagram can clarify your explanation.
People also love visuals, so it helps to insert them at the right spots. Consider the images below:
First, here's a blog snippet without visuals:
Here's a snippet of same blog, but with visuals:
Adding images to your articles makes the content more relatable and easier to understand. In addition to images, you can also use gifs, emoji, embeds (social media, code) and code snippets where necessary.
Thoughtful formatting, templates, and images or diagrams will also make your text more helpful to your readers. You can check out the references below for a technical writing template from @Bolajiayodeji.
Do a Careful Review
Good writing of any type must be free from spelling and grammatical errors. These errors might seem obvious, but it's not always easy to spot them (especially in lengthy documents).
Always double-check your spelling (you know, dot your Is and cross your Ts) before hitting 'publish'.
There are a number of free tools like Grammarly and the Hemingway app that you can use to check for grammar and spelling errors. You can also share a draft of your article with someone to proofread before publishing.
Where to Publish Your Articles
Now that you've decided to take up technical writing, here are some good platforms where you can start putting up technical content for free. They can also help you build an appealing portfolio for future employers to check out.
Dev.to is a community of thousands of techies where both writers and readers get to meaningfully engage and share ideas and resources.
Hashnode is my go-to blogging platform with awesome perks such as custom domain mapping and an interactive community. Setting up a blog on this platform is also easy and fast.
freeCodeCamp has a very large community and audience reach and is a great place to publish your articles. However, you'll need to apply to write for their publication with some previous writing samples.
Your application could either be accepted or rejected, but don't be discouraged. You can always reapply later as you get better, and who knows? You could get accepted.
If you do write for them, they'll review and edit your articles before publishing, to make sure you publish the most polished article possible. They'll also share your articles on their social media platforms to help more people read them.
Hackernoon has over 7,000 writers and could be a great platform for you to start publishing your articles to the over 200,000 daily readers in the community.
Hacker Noon supports writers by proofreading their articles before publishing them on the platform, helping them avoid common mistakes.
Just like in every other field, there are various processes, rules, best practices, and so on in Technical Writing.
Taking a course on technical writing will help guide you through every thing you need to learn and can also give you a major confidence boost to kick start your writing journey.
Here are some technical writing courses you can check out:
- Google Technical Writing Course (Free)
- Udemy Technical Writing Course (Paid)
- Hashnode Technical Writing Bootcamp (Free)
Technical Writing Forums and Communities
Alone we can do so little, together, we can do so much ~ Helen Keller
Being part of a community or forum along with people who share same passion as you is beneficial. You can get feedback, corrections, tips and even learn some style tips from other writers in the community.
Here are some communities and forums for you to join:
- Technical Writing World
- Technical Writer Forum
- Write the Docs Forum
Some Amazing Technical Writers to follow
In my technical writing journey, I've come and followed some great technical writers whose writing journey, consistency, and style inspire me.
These are the writers whom I look up to and consider virtual mentors on technical writing. Sometimes, they drop technical writing tips that I find helpful and have learned a lot from.
Here are some of those writers (hyperlinked with their twitter handles):
- Quincy Larson
- Edidiong Asikpo
- Catalin Pit
- Victoria Lo
- Bolaji Ayodeji
- Amruta Ranade
- Chris Bongers
- Colby Fayock
You do not need a degree in technical writing to start putting out technical content. You can start writing on your personal blog and public GitHub repositories while building your portfolio and gaining practical experience.
Really – Just Start Writing.
Practice by creating new documents for existing programs or projects. There are a number of open source projects on GitHub that you can check out and add to their documentation.
Is there an app that you love to use, but its documentation is poorly written? Write your own and share it online for feedback. You can also quickly set up your blog on hashnode and start writing.
You learn to write by writing, and by reading and thinking about how writers have created their characters and invented their stories. If you are not a reader, don't even think about being a writer. - Jean M. Auel
Technical writers are always learning . By diving into new subject areas and receiving external feedback, a good writer never stops honing their craft.
Of course, good writers are also voracious readers. By reviewing highly-read or highly-used documents, your own writing will definitely improve.
Can't wait to see your technical articles!
Introduction to Technical Writing
How to structure a technical article
Understanding your audience, the why and how
Technical Writing template
I hope this was helpful. If so, follow me on Twitter and let me know!
Amarachi is a front end web developer, technical writer and educator who is interested in building developer communities.
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- Technical Writing
Different Types of Technical Writing and their Examples
Every company across the globe needs technical documentation, whether for customers or internal staff; the only difference between the two lies in the format of types of technical writing. Before moving to types, let’s understand the meaning of technical writing.
Technical writing explains the product usage, processes, and services which then navigates each step or challenge for the desired results. The purpose of technical writing is to describe your business needs, views, observations, goals, and ideas .
Technical documents are usually tricky to understand. So they are formulated to organize content in a way that makes sense, is easy to understand, and is scientific. From detailed research papers to exclusively created user manuals, all are types of technical writing.
In this blog, you will find the 12+ types of technical writing with their examples. This full-fledged technical writing knowledge will help you increase your sales and marketing results.
So, let’s get Started!
Table of contents
Medical and scientific papers, user guides/user manuals, assembly manuals, technical documents and reviews, white papers, case studies, technical proposals, api /sdk documentation, technical manuals, technical reports, project plans, business plans, corporate reports, policies and procedures, rfps & proposals, detailed analysis of 12+ types of technical writing.
Though the list is never ending and depends on the requirement and type of business; still, these 12+ types of technical writing will help you differentiate various forms of technical documentation and select the best suited for your business. Moreover, if you wish to customize your technical documents, you can take help from the herein attached formats for reference.
Let’s study all the 12+ types of technical writing in detail!
Medical and scientific papers are the traditional types of technical writing. Various researchers use scientific papers to interpret reports and organize them into engaging content. The motto is to make your research easy to understand and efficient for the reader.
Certain skills required for preparing these types of technical writing are:
- Attention to detail
- High level of accuracy
- Organizational Skills
Look at the attached example for reference.
User guides and manuals are the most common type of technical writing. These guides help in breaking down the elements of the product and explaining each one of its parts and functionality. They aim to improve the end-user experience and answer queries related to the product, service, or application.
Moreover, these guides and manuals answer a specific question related to products and services, beginning with ‘ How .’ User guides have an equal ratio of images and text. They have an introductory text/cover page, index, and steps attached with screenshots.
Here are the listed few types of user guides and manuals
- Instruction manuals
- Product manuals
- Repair manuals
- Policy manuals
- Training manuals
- Knowledge about organizing instruction manuals
- Creating solution-oriented content
- Knowledge of each product
- Clear understanding
Looking up to create a user-friendly manual by experts? Contact APPWRK for the best technical writing services .
Writing non-fictional e-books are different from other types of technical writing as they are conceptual, lengthy, and detailed. They aim to clarify the product’s intention and purpose to the user.
Some skills required for preparing ebooks are:
- Transform complex information into simplified ones.
- Understanding of format, structure, pace, and length.
- Knowledge of images, videos, and graphic insertion.
- Preparation of extended contents.
Other common types of technical writing are assembly and repair manuals. They require diverse technical skills and an understanding of the disassembly and re-assembly of specific machines or pieces of equipment.
Skills required for this type of technical writing are:
- A theoretical and practical understanding of equipment and processes.
- Experience in working and repairing industries.
- Strong research ability.
Look at the attached example for reference.
If you are up to writing technical manuals, hire someone who offers professional technical writing services like APPWRK IT Solutions.
Technical documents include business plans, proposals, case studies, and press releases. They are an essential part of corporate operations. It aims to explain the process and the outcomes of the research, no matter whether your research is scientific or business-centric.
Skills required for these types of technical writing are:
- High understanding of the processes.
- Complete knowledge of the product.
- Excellent communication skills.
- Perfect at delivering business messages.
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Now, you must have a general overview of the major types of technical writing. Still, it isn’t over yet!
White Papers are in-depth reports issued by organizations to provide solutions to specific products and services. They are commonly designed for business-to-business marketing purposes. For preparing white papers, it is important to focus on original reports, data, and expert analysis.
White papers are classified into 3 types:
- Numbered lists
Case studies are much similar to white papers. They are written the convince the reader. But case study write-ups are a story on the actual implementation of the solutions.
This particular technical writing is a small marketing tool for new businesses/start-ups or medium-scale companies to grow their business. Not only this, it is an excellent way to prove your value to potential customers.
Case Studies are of 3 Main Types:
- Corporate Case Study : They are related to the history, structure, failures, and achievements of a specific company.
- Comparative Case Study : It provides a comparative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of two or more companies.
- Issue Case Study : They are related to certain problems and solutions about the specific company.
A technical proposal is a document that contains an introduction to a particular product, an explanation of the solution to a specific issue, an execution plan, and technical details of the deal proposed by a company.
Usually, technical proposals are divided into 2 parts:
- Business or Sales Proposal: They are given to buyers and consumers outside the company.
- Research Proposals: It is a detailed and well-thought strategy written by the researcher.
API/SDKs are industry-specific process documentation used by engineers, testers, and managers. APIs(Application Programming Interfaces) are generally used to build communication between different applications, whereas SDK(Software Development Kits) is a tool kit to develop applications and their features.
Depending upon the different mediums and services it provides, APIs can be broadly divided into 3 groups:
- Software API
- SCPI (Hardware API)
Technical manuals are guides created with the single objective of making it easy for the end user to understand the technicality of the product. It contains instructions on the product’s use, installation, maintenance, and effective deployment.
Technical manuals are broadly divided into 4 types:
Customer Support Manuals : They are in the form of an online wiki, a help desk made for the end customer using the product.
Organization Support Manuals: They are made to help employees do their work effectively and efficiently.
Marketing Support Manuals: They help the marketing teams market a product efficiently and are primarily product-focused.
IT Support Manuals: These manuals include technical specifications of products, glossaries, and software development. Repair Manuals: They are designed for the maintenance of the product and effective long-term use.
Technical reports describe the process, progress, results, or scientific research. They include recommendations and the conclusion of the research. There is no proper formatting for the publication of technical reports. They rarely undergo comprehensive review before the publication of any technical report.
A Project plan is a series of formal documents showcasing the project’s execution and control stages. It involves resource, risk management, cost, scope, schedule, and business communication. To be more concise, it involves answers to 5W1H (who, what, where, why, when, and how).
Project managers make these plans that help team members to stay focused on the project’s milestones and overall goals.
A business plan is an important document that defines companies objectives and strategies. It is a clear roadmap from a marketing, financial, and operational point of view. It focuses on the external and internal audiences of the company. A good business plan should always include a summary of products and services, marketing strategies and analysis, financial planning, and the budget.
Corporate reports provide essential information for investors. They are prepared quarterly, annually, and periodically. In layman’s language, corporate reports help to conclude whether a company is making money or losing and why.
- Director’s report
- Auditor’s report
- Balance sheet
- Comprehensive income statement
- Financial statements
Policies and procedures are the set of guidelines explicitly prepared for organizations and their employees to comply with. These are essential documents as they describe how an organization will run.
A policy defines a rule. The procedure defines who will perform the rules and how it will be performed. Overall, procedures are always followed by the policies.
RFPs (Request for Proposal) are project announcements that are posted publicly by enterprises indicating the project and the bids sought. They define the projects for companies that issue them and respond to them. An organization may release RFPs to boost the competition to drive the cost of the competition.
- Lines of business
- Specifications of solution
To conclude, there are various types of technical writing, the most common are mentioned above. These types of technical writing differ in terms of structure, format, and objective. Ensure that you choose the most suitable one for your business.
Still, if you have any queries or questions about customized documentation, contact APPWRK ! We have a team of technical content writers with more than 5 years of experience in multiple industries. Not only this, we can help you get quality technical writing services at budget-friendly prices.
If you find the blog informational, share it with others and help them learn!
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Gourav Khanna is co-founder and CEO of APPWRK IT SOLUTIONS PVT LIMITED, a web & mobile app development company. He is a technophile who is always eager to learn and share his views on new technologies and future advancements. Gourav’s knowledge and experience have made him one of the industry's most respected and referenced leaders in the IT industry. His passion for writing and a high spirit of learning new things is reflected in his write ups. He has inspired many organizations to leverage digital platforms with his top-notch writing strategy skills that cut through the noise, backed by sharp thinking. Gourav believes that - “Words are the way to know ecstasy, without them life is barren ''.
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The best-in-class technical writing stye guide examples (and why they work)
User guides. Proposals. Reports. Technical documentation. Case studies. A technical writer has to wear many hats to get the job done.
At a basic level, technical writing involves communicating complex information so readers can use a product — even if they aren’t an expert. This approach can be applied across many sectors, like high-tech manufacturing, biotech, engineering, finance, and computer technology.
Making all of that complex information cohesive would be almost impossible if it weren’t for two things: assignment templates and the style guide . Here’s what you should know about style guides when it comes to technical writers:
What is a style guide in technical writing?
In general, the point of a style guide is to provide consistency, whether you’re writing an article or a social media post. It typically covers the basics, like:
Punctuation (guidance on how to use things like hyphens, parenthesis, semicolons, and the Oxford comma)
Grammar (rules for things like capitalization, parts of speech like conjunctions, , and prepositions)
For technical writers, a style guide can also cover things like product description guidelines, report structuring, linking best-practices, and when to use abbreviations or acronyms. This provides a solid foundation for templated content. So it’s especially useful for technical writers who may be working on the same type of assignment regularly.
For those interested in diving further into the topic of editorial style guidelines, resources like The Elements of Style , or a stylebook like AP Style or the Chicago Manual of Style , can provide valuable insight. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with those stylebooks because many style guides use them as a baseline, offering guidance where they diverge from the rules.
What are the five types of technical writing?
In addition to traditional technical writing (content produced with a technical audience in mind, like appliance repair manuals and programmer guides), there are five umbrellas assignments tend to fall under:
Technological marketing content: Technical writing that’s tied to advertising, product promotion, and marketing.
End-user documentation: Technical writing presented as how-to information for electronics and other consumer products.
Field service support: Technical writing intended to aid in technical work and often requires the writer to develop and analyze procedures and documentation for various types of work (for example, equipment and software installation, maintenance, and administration.)
Developmental support: This kind of technical writing requires you to analyze information and work with experts on the topic to create functional and technical specification documents or systems analysis documents.
Organizational support: Here, technical writers would identify process and project objectives and limitations (think: stakeholders and critical success factors) and help define deliverables.
Document style guide examples for technical writers
Best technical style guide for navigation: google developer style guide.
As any technical writer knows, when you have a lot of information to present, organization is key. The Google Developer style guide solves the organization problem by keeping the reader in mind throughout. It begins with an introduction section that covers the basics — goals of the guide and how to use it — and then breaks things down into a more digestible format in the Highlights section. That covers other high-level topics, like:
Tone and content (including accessibility)
Language and grammar (like using active voice vs. passive voice)
Formatting, punctuation, and organization
Those sections have linked key takeaways, so the reader can get the gist of things and access more in-depth information with a single click. That’s vital when you have a guide (and sidebar) as lengthy as Google’s developer guide.
The sidebar also divides things up in a way that is both intuitive and easy to read, with bolded headers. And the search function at the top of the screen makes it even easier for readers to find what they need. Together, these factors make the guide less intimidating, even if you’re a first-time visitor. That’s key for a growing company.
Best example-based technical style guide: Microsoft’s style guide
Guidelines are good. Concrete examples are better. And the Microsoft writing style guide is packed with useful examples, including both what works and what doesn’t for its rules.
For instance, in the Bias-free communication section, there are tables labeled with headers like Use this and Not this . This direct comparison makes it easy for a reader to grasp the information at a glance. And the table itself also provides a break from the more traditional text format, adding another layer of digestibility.
Not every page of this style guide goes into this level of depth (and it isn’t always necessary to do so). But it makes a difference when they do because example-based pages are allocated to more complex sections, like pages that fall under the Grammar umbrella. This, and peppering in context like exceptions to rules, gives a complete picture of what’s expected while anticipating reader questions.
Best one-page technical style guide: IBM’s style guide
While the other style guides listed here rely on housing information on separate pages, the IBM style guide keeps everything on one page. In the wrong hands, that could be a recipe for reader confusion and overwhelm. But this guide avoids the potential pitfalls of this structure through two key tools:
Visual organization (like headers, bolded takeaways, bullet points, charts and color-coding)
Jumplinks (both in-line and within the table of contents in the sidebar)
Again, this style guide keeps the reader in mind, offering information in a way that works for those who are reading the content start to finish (like a new employee would), as well as for those who are skimming for the information they need and may be under a deadline. So instead of presenting as a wall of text, it’s broken down into the most crucial bits of information.
And beyond that, the information is written using the writing style and guidelines it puts forth. For example, the guide provides an educational example for writing conversationally: “And another thing. You can start sentences with “And” or “But.”” This meets that conversational standard, but it’s also active and to the point. Bottom line: Leading by example is one of the best ways to get readers to understand, and use, your guide.
Best streamlined technical style guide: Apple’s style guide
A good style guide provides enough information to make readers understand what’s needed without bogging them down in a sea of excess. In the case of the Apple style guide , that means slimming down the content as well as the menu.
Unlike the other guides on this list, Apple hides the more in-depth information in drop-downs within the menu, creating a more simplistic view of the information. When you click into the sections, most of those also offer an Overview page which can answer more common questions, like basics of international style or writing units of measure. Then subsequent pages go deeper, addressing specifics, like including ISO standard context and prefixes for units of measure.
Another key to this guide’s success is the strategic placement of the updates page, located under the About the guide section. That makes it easier for returning visitors to stay updated about changes in brand style. That’s vital for any business, but especially if you’re building a style guide from scratch, when larger changes are more likely. Creating a style guide is a big undertaking, though. And while you can, and should, take inspiration from the above examples, it will still require a significant amount of work to make a guide that meets your company’s needs. For that, Writer’s style guide tool can help.
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5 excellent examples of technical writing
The gold standard for good technical writing isn’t entertainment value or clever phrasing or even intelligence. When it comes to technical writing, good means informative, detailed, and digestible.
What is technical writing?
Technical writing isn’t always the most thrilling to read, but it serves a powerful purpose: helping people make sense of complex processes and concepts. There are a few common types of technical writing:
1. Consumer technical writing
The goal of consumer technical writing is to help consumers understand, install, use, implement, or repair a particular product or tool. Consumer technical writing shows up in user manuals, legal disclaimers, website help centers, and employee handbooks.
2. Expert-to-expert technical writing
Written by experts for other experts, this type of technical writing is designed to help a professional in a particular field either get information quickly or dive deeper into a complex topic. You typically see expert-to-expert technical writing in legal documents, studies, research summaries, and white papers.
3. Technical marketing writing
Technical marketing writing is writing used to help sell a technical device or tool. Most technical marketing writing falls under the category of B2B (business to business) writing. Companies use technical marketing writing in pitch decks, case studies, and annual reports to promote or sell their services and products to other businesses.
How to write a technical piece
Technical writing is challenging, but skilled technical writers make it look easy. They use precise language, write in clear, straightforward sentences, and adopt a format that’s easy to follow.
To be a technical writer, you need to have both analytical thinking skills and a deep understanding of the topic you’re writing about, whether it’s consumer electronics or medical research.
Here are the fundamental steps to writing a technical piece:
1. Consider the goal
Figuring out your objective will help guide your writing process and inform your content. Are you trying to simplify a complex process for a consumer? Do you need to highlight the benefits of a tool in order to sell it? Do you want to summarize a lengthy paper?
2. Identify the audience
Audience is everything in technical writing. Creating a cell phone user manual for a consumer who may or may not be tech-savvy requires a completely different approach than writing a white paper on renewable energy resources.
The intended audience for your technical piece influences how much background information you provide, what terminology and format you use, and how you position the problem and solution.
3. Work with a template or format
Format is the unsung hero of accessible technical writing. Using the right structure for your technical writing piece allows you to lay out your points in a logical manner, in turn making it easier for readers to follow along and stay engaged.
There are different templates and structures for user manuals, case studies, white papers, and research summaries, so make sure you’re working within the correct framework. Once you identify an appropriate format, you can create a detailed outline.
4. Overexplain, then cut
As you fill in your outline step by step, try to include more information than you think is necessary. You can always go back and cut unnecessary sections once you have a detailed rough draft, but it’s usually easier to work with more information at the beginning than less.
5. Look for gaps
Once you have a complete draft, put yourself in your audience’s position to try and figure out where you could enhance or simplify your piece. Ask yourself the following questions as you reread: Are the concepts and instructions as clear as possible? Are you using the right terminology? Are there any steps or background details missing? Do you need visuals like graphs and illustrations to make your points?
6. Simplify and clarify the wording
Take another pass at your work, looking for opportunities to improve your phrasing and wording. Maybe you’re using too much jargon, for example, or maybe there are sections where the language isn’t precise enough.
5 great examples of technical writing
These five examples of effective technical writing can help inspire and inform your work as a technical writer.
1. Technological white paper
Who: Citrix Systems
What: Technical marketing writing
To promote their cloud-based workspace product and explain how it works, Citrix Systems shares a handful of different business use cases using clear, persuasive language.
2. Legal disclaimer
Who: Syracuse Journal of Science and Technology Law
What: Consumer technical writing
This fair use disclaimer is short and delivers a clear message: that the site is for educational purposes only.
3. User instructions
Using simple language and helpful visuals, Slack explains what keyboard shortcuts are, why they’re useful, and how users can implement them.
4. Medical study
Who: Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation
What: Expert-to-expert technical writing
This study describing the effects of long-distance running on bone density is written in straightforward, precise terms using appropriate scientific terms.
5. Safety manual
Who: Port of Seattle
What: Consumer technical writing/Expert-to-expert technical writing
This construction safety manual straddles the line between consumer technical writing and expert-to-expert technical writing. It uses a step-by-step format to break down safety instructions and gives clear, direct commands.
Get familiar with technical writing
You may think technical writing only exists in the thick user manuals at the back of your TV console, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Good technical writing is everywhere if you know what to look for. This means it's also a worthwhile niche to consider if you want to become a freelance writer ! To improve your skills as a technical writer, spend some time reading different types of technical writing and taking note of what works and what doesn’t.
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- An Introduction to Punctuation
- Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
- M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
- B.A., English, State University of New York
Technical writing is a specialized form of exposition : that is, written communication done on the job, especially in fields with specialized vocabularies, such as science, engineering, technology, and the health sciences. Along with business writing, technical writing is often subsumed under the heading of professional communication .
About Technical Writing
The Society for Technical Communication (STC) offers this definition of technical writing: "the process of gathering information from experts and presenting it to an audience in a clear, easily understandable form." It can take the form of writing an instruction manual for software users or detailed specifications for an engineering project—and myriad other types of writing in technical, medicine, and science fields.
In an influential article published in 1965, Webster Earl Britton concluded that the essential characteristic of technical writing is "the effort of the author to convey one meaning and only one meaning in what he says."
Characteristics of Technical Writing
Here are its main characteristics:
- Purpose : Getting something done within an organization (completing a project, persuading a customer, pleasing your boss, etc.)
- Your knowledge of the topic: Usually greater than that of the reader
- Audience : Often several people, with differing technical backgrounds
- Criteria for evaluation: Clear and simple organization of ideas, in a format that meets the needs of busy readers
- Statistical and graphic support: Frequently used to explain existing conditions and to present alternative courses of action
Differences Between Tech and Other Types of Writing
The "Handbook of Technical Writing" describes the craft's goal this way: "The goal of technical writing is to enable readers to use a technology or understand a process or concept. Because the subject matter is more important than the writer's voice , technical writing style uses an objective, not a subjective, tone . The writing style is direct and utilitarian, emphasizing exactness and clarity rather than elegance or allusiveness. A technical writer uses figurative language only when a figure of speech would facilitate understanding."
Mike Markel notes in "Technical Communication," "The biggest difference between technical communication and the other kinds of writing you have done is that technical communication has a somewhat different focus on audience and purpose ."
In "Technical Writing, Presentational Skills, and Online Communication," computer science professor Raymond Greenlaw notes that the "writing style in technical writing is more prescriptive than in creative writing. In technical writing, we are not so much concerned about entertaining the audience as we are about conveying specific information to our readers in a concise and precise manner."
Careers & Study
People can study technical writing in college or technical school, though a student doesn't have to earn a full degree in the field for the skill to be useful in his or her job. Employees in technical fields who have good communication skills can learn on the job through feedback from their team members as they work on projects, supplementing their work experience through taking occasional targeted courses to further develop their skills. Knowledge of the field and its specialized vocabulary is the most important piece for technical writers, just as in other niche writing areas, and can command a paid premium over generalist writers.
- Gerald J. Alred, et al., "Handbook of Technical Writing." Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006.
- Mike Markel, "Technical Communication." 9th ed. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2010.
- William Sanborn Pfeiffer, "Technical Writing: A Practical Approach." Prentice-Hall, 2003.
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1. user manuals and guides, 2. software and technical documentation, 3. instructional and training materials, 4. white papers and case studies, 5. proposals and grant writing, 6. technical reports and research papers, 7. business and marketing writing, 8. policies and procedures, 9. online content and documentation, 10. scientific and medical writing, 11. editing and proofreading, to conclude, exploring the 11 types of technical writing.
- Read in 08 mins
The field of technical writing has undergone an interesting journey over time. From ancient civilizations using pictographs to communicate technical information to the development of written language and the invention of the printing press, technical communication methods have constantly evolved.
Today, we have a wide range of tools and technologies to create clear and concise technical documentation. In this detailed guide, we will discover the complex world of technical writing, shedding light on the various types of technical writing available.
Whether you are a seasoned professional seeking to expand your skillset or an aspiring writer eager to delve into the realm of technical communication, this roadmap will provide you with invaluable insights and practical knowledge to pave your path toward success in the field. So, get ready for some fascinating insights on the multifaceted uses of technical writing!
There are various types of technical writing. However, you will be exploring the top eleven of them that are currently in use.
User manuals play a crucial role in providing product support to customers. They serve as a comprehensive guide that helps users understand the functionalities and operation of a product.
A well-written user manual can enhance the user experience greatly and minimize the need for customer support. It provides step-by-step instructions, troubleshooting tips, and safety precautions, ensuring that users can maximize their purchase while avoiding potential hazards.
A few elements of an effective User Manual are:
- Visual aids
- Troubleshooting section
- Table of contents and index
User manuals are especially important for complex products or those with advanced features, as they simplify the learning process and empower users to navigate through the product's functionalities independently.
Software and technical documentation is another area where utilizing technical writing services and skills is highly valuable. Technical writers in this field are responsible for creating:
- user manuals
- installation guides
- troubleshooting guides
It helps users understand and navigate complex software and technical systems.
They must be able to break down complex concepts into clear and concise language, ensuring that users can easily follow instructions and troubleshoot any issues they may encounter. Technical writers in this field also work closely with software developers and engineers to gather information and ensure accuracy in the documentation.
One of the most common types of technical writing is instructional and training material. It consists of writing user manuals, online tutorials, and training guides. This type of writing aims to provide clear and concise instructions on using a product or completing a task.
A wide variety of Instructional and Training Materials are:
- User manuals
- Online tutorials
- Training guides
- Video tutorials
- Interactive simulations
Instructional and training materials ensure that users can effectively and safely use a product or service. It needs a solid experience of the subject matter and the capability to explain complex concepts in a simple and accessible way.
White papers are comprehensive reports that provide detailed information about a specific topic or issue. Business and marketing often use them to educate and persuade readers about a particular product, service, or solution.
The purpose of a white paper is to present facts, analysis, and evidence to support a specific position or recommendation. They are typically longer than other types of technical writing essentials and are written in a more formal and professional tone.
The benefits of white papers include:
- Establishing thought leadership
- Generating leads
- Providing valuable information to potential customers.
On the other hand, case studies are a powerful tool for informing readers about the effectiveness of a particular product, service, or solution. The purpose of a case study is to present real-life examples and evidence that demonstrate the positive outcomes and benefits of using the product, service, or solution.
- Case studies should include detailed information about the problem or challenge faced by the customer, the solution implemented, and the measurable results achieved.
- To create a compelling case study, gathering accurate and objective data, using clear and concise language, and including visuals such as charts or graphs to enhance understanding is important.
- When showcasing a product, service, or solution, it is important to use a persuasive tone that highlights its unique features and advantages.
Understanding the structure and components of a proposal is essential for effective grant writing. A well-written proposal not only presents a clear and compelling case for funding but also demonstrates a thorough understanding of the project and its potential impact.
The structure of a proposal typically includes an introduction, problem statement, objectives, methods, timeline, budget, and evaluation plan. Each section serves a specific purpose and must be carefully crafted to convey the necessary information and convince the reader of the project's worthiness.
Tips for writing effective Grant Proposals:
- Clearly define your project objectives and how they align with the funder's priorities. It will demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the funders and understand their goals.
- Use concise and persuasive language throughout your proposal. Avoid technical terms and jargon that may confuse or alienate the reader.
- Provide compelling evidence for the problem or need your project aims to address. Use statistics, case studies, or expert opinions to support your claims.
- Create a realistic timeline that outlines your project's key activities and milestones. It will show that you have carefully thought through the implementation process.
- Develop a total budget that accurately reflects the costs of your project. Be sure to justify each expense and explain how it directly supports your objectives.
Technical reports and research papers are two common types of technical writing that are widely used in various industries and academic fields. These documents are typically created to communicate complex information, findings, and analysis to a specific audience.
Technical reports are often used in engineering, science, and technology fields, while research papers are more commonly associated with academic research and scholarly publications. Both types of writing require the following:
- Strong understanding of the subject matter,
- Clear and concise language and
- A logical structure to convey information and support arguments or conclusions effectively.
Business and marketing are the most common types of technical writing. This type of writing is focused on communicating information about a company, its products or services, and its marketing strategies to a specific audience.
Business and marketing writing often includes writing sales letters, press releases, product descriptions, and marketing materials. This type of writing aims to persuade and inform potential customers about the company and its offerings.
Imagine a situation where a business is introducing a new product and needs to craft a compelling sales letter to advertise it. The writer would need to use their technical writing skills to effectively communicate the features and benefits of the product while also incorporating persuasive language to convince potential customers to make a purchase.
Another important aspect of technical writing is creating clear and concise policies and procedures for a company. Technical writers are essential in making sure that documents, such as employee handbooks or instructional guidelines for a particular task, are easily understood and followed by staff members.
By using their expertise in organizing information and presenting it in a logical manner, technical writers can help companies maintain consistency and efficiency in their operations. These policies and procedures can also serve as a reference point for employees, reducing the likelihood of errors or misunderstandings.
Online content and documentation can include anything from user manuals and FAQs to blog posts and articles. The goal is to provide valuable information in a way that is easily accessible and understandable to the reader.
This type of technical writing involves using clear and concise language, organizing information in a logical manner, and incorporating visuals or multimedia elements to enhance comprehension.
On top of that, it may also involve conducting user research to understand the target audience's needs and preferences and incorporating those insights into the content creation process. By following these strategies, technical writers can effectively communicate complex information and help users achieve their goals when interacting with online content.
Tools and Technologies for Effective Documentation:
Some of the tools and technologies that technical writers can use for effective documentation include:
- Word processing software
- Content management systems (CMS)
- Screen capture software
Scientific and medical writing is a specialized form of technical writing that focuses on communicating complex scientific and medical information to a specific audience. This type of writing is often used in research papers, journal articles, clinical trial reports, and medical documentation.
It requires a strong understanding of scientific and medical terminology and the ability to present information in a straightforward manner. Scientific and medical writers must bridge the gap between researchers and the wider scientific community, ensuring that important findings and advancements are effectively communicated and understood.
Editing and proofreading play an essential role in technical writing to ensure the accuracy and clarity of the documentation. Technical writers must carefully review and revise their work to eliminate errors or inconsistencies that may confuse or mislead users.
By meticulously checking grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting, editors and proofreaders help enhance the overall quality of the content. They also ensure that the writing style is consistent and appropriate for the intended audience, making the documentation more accessible and user-friendly.
Read Also: What are the 5 Principles of Technical Writing?
Techniques for ensuring accuracy and clarity in written content
There are several techniques that editors and proofreaders employ to ensure accuracy and clarity in written content.
- One common technique is reading the text aloud, which can help identify any awkward phrasing or unclear sentences.
- Another important technique is to seek feedback from others, such as colleagues or subject matter experts, to gain different perspectives and catch any potential errors or misunderstandings.
These techniques collectively contribute to producing well-written content that effectively conveys the intended message to the readers.
Read Also: What are the Uses of Technical Writing?
From user manuals to instructional guides, technical writing encompasses a wide range of genres. One popular type is software documentation, where writers explain complex software concepts and procedures in brief.
Medical writing is one area that involves crafting documents like clinical trial reports and regulatory submissions. Regardless of the type, technical writing demands a distinct set of skills, such as simplifying intricate information and adjusting to diverse audiences.
So, whether you are interested in technology, science, or any other field, incorporating the best technical writing services offers endless opportunities for growth and creativity. Also note that abstract writing services can also be beneficial for technical content writing.
- technical writing
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary has extensive experience of over 5 years in writing on a wide range of topics, including healthcare, technology, science, and business. She is highly knowledgeable and skilled in researching and crafting accurate, well-structured, and engaging content. Mary is a reliable and professional writer who is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure her clients are satisfied with her work. She is committed to delivering quality content on time and within budget.
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Home » Blog » 8 Great Technical Writing Examples to Inspire You
8 Great Technical Writing Examples to Inspire You
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Detailed examples are a treasure for technical writers. They are a great way to understand and adapt to the best practices that can make your technical writing content stand out.
An example of good technical writing can help you identify phrases, words, and practices that can improve your content. They can also help you start writing a type of technical document you haven’t read before.
However, there aren’t only good examples of technical writing out there. A poorly written technical document example can also teach lessons on avoiding common mistakes. The example work allows you to develop a writing outlook to create successful technical documentation.
We will discuss technical writing and how you can write a technical document. We will also enlist eight technical writing examples that may help you write exceptional pieces.
What is Technical Writing?
Whenever technical information is written and documented, it is technical writing. Technical writing contains all documentation for complex technical processes. It includes executive summary statements, reports, briefs, and much more.
It can also include high-tech manufacturing, biotech, aerospace, finance, IT, engineering, and supply chain information. The format of a technical document is no longer bound to lengthy user manuals; it must be distilled and presented unambiguously. It can also come in technical reports, emails, briefs, press releases, or policies.
Technical writing continues to be a high conversion skill in all professional workplaces. Its demand grows at 10% annually from 2014 to 2022 — faster than any other occupation. Therefore, it would be great if you learned to write complex documents for your organization, and we have prepared a list of technical writing examples to help you understand and write better.
8 Best Technical Writing Examples
1. user manuals.
Writing a user manual is a daunting task for a technical writer , as it contains all the instructions a user needs to operate a product or feature. Writing a user manual requires a combination of organizational and technical writing skills, so it is an essential example of technical writing to follow.
Before moving into the components of a user manual, make sure you have worked on three things: 1) collecting information, 2) choosing structure and style, and 3) putting the manual together.
Here are five major components of effective user manuals:
It is the central part or body of the user manual that explains the process. The logical, numbered steps help the user solve the problem. Illustrations can also be used to facilitate component or experience visualization.
Avoid technical language whenever there is a risk of isolating audience segments. The best way to make your content super easy is to imagine you are writing for a junior high school student. Tables and graphs can also be included to show how content sections relate, complement, and contrast.
3. Glossary of Terms
Every industry has its language and vocabulary. But some users are not familiar with even the most commonly used terms. A glossary of terms serves as their reference and a home for each term. It eliminates the need for technical writers to restate and re-explain definitions repeatedly.
4. Table of Contents
As a general rule, if a user manual exceeds 10–12 pages, you must use a table of contents. The entries are listed in order of presentation with accompanying page numbers.
5. Precautionary Information
Notes of caution, warnings and danger notices help user safety. They also help the manufacturer address liability concerns related to the product. Also, use universal graphic symbols to present each type of risk to the reader.
A user manual’s content can range from less than a dozen to hundreds of pages. The more complex the product or service, the lengthier the manual. In its ideal state, a user manual is a set of instructions presented in a style and format that helps quick reference and facilitates the product’s success in the market.
Unbounce’s user manual is a sublime example of effective user documentation. Their documentation is easy to navigate, with each step having its table of content to make it easy to find. Refer to their user manual as a standard if you ever write a user manual.
2. API Documentation
Similar to the user manual, API documentation helps guide the user through configuring an API. Before we move to API documentation, let us reveal exactly what API is.
API is the short form for the application programming interface. It is like a bridge between your computer, mobile phone, or other application and external resources.
In simple words, APIs allow the software to interact with other software programs, resources, and databases. Since APIs are built by software developers, it is easier for a software developer to create the documentation.
Moving on to the next part of writing API documentation, here is what you must include.
- An Overview
An overview is just like an abstract page of a project report. It contains a summary of the API and the problem it is solving. It also includes the benefits of using the particular API over similar ones.
It is the main instructional body of the documentation. A tutorial must include different content formats you are using to explain the concept of the API to the user. It also contains links for reference and a detailed guide for integrating and consuming the API, so it functions properly.
Once you have explained how the API works and provided steps, it is a good idea to show examples of it. Examples of calls, error handling, responses, and other operations can help demonstrate how the developer interacts with the API.
Although a glossary is optional, it is recommended for your API documentation. Instead of boring the user with long text blocks, explanations of various terms, images, and schemas can be pushed to the glossary. Then you can reference these things in the documentation and link to the glossary.
Stripe API Reference is the best example of API documentation and a work of art. It includes a sleek, two-panel design, with explanations written in plain English on the left and handy code snippets on the right. It has all the crucial information one needs.
3. Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
A standard operating procedure or SOP is a set of written instructions. They describe the step-by-step process of performing a routine activity. SOPs follow the same approach every time to guarantee that the organization remains consistent and complies with industry regulations and business standards.
SOPs provide the policies, standards, and processes required for the organization to succeed. They also benefit a business by reducing errors and increasing profitability and efficiencies. They create a comfortable work environment and generate guidelines for how to resolve issues and overcome obstacles.
Before writing the SOP, ensure the writers perform a risk assessment. It will help them determine any obstacles that may arise during the process. They should also consider the risk associated with those obstacles.
Here are the three components that comprise a standard operating procedure.
- Title Page: A title page lists the title of the SOP, what it is written for, its SOP identification, and the names and signatures of the people who prepared and approved the manual.
- Table of Contents: It provides easy access to the various sections in large SOPs.
- Steps of Procedure: It includes explanations of the task’s goal, roles and responsibilities, terminology, regulatory requirements, descriptions of what should be done to complete each step, and a discussion of decisions that must be made. It is the central part and takes the main portion of the SOP.
Once technical writers finish the draft, it must be reviewed, edited, and tested. The process should repeat until all stakeholders have written and approved an SOP. At this point, the SOP can be distributed to each person who needs it.
SOPs record the production line procedures used to train employees and make products. It can also be used in finance and administrative environments to document the processes of customer finance collection. Examples of how an SOP is used can be found in a manufacturing environment.
Both case studies and white papers are the most potent and sought-after types of content. Both can help an organization generate leads for the business. However, both differ in purpose, audience, and funnel stage.
A white paper is a technical document that helps readers understand an issue and devise a strategy to solve a problem or make a decision. It is a lengthy piece of content, at approximately 2,000 words or six pages. White papers can be practical to target people at all steps of the funnel.
One white paper can create awareness of a persona’s problem by targeting someone at the top of the funnel. While a second can focus on advanced product uses, targeting someone at the bottom of the funnel.
The components of a white paper include:
- Introduction with a problem statement
- Proposed solution
On the other hand, a case study features extended testimonials on how a product or service helped a customer. It is shorter than a white paper and consists of around 800 words. These are best suited for the audiences at the top or middle of the funnel. Use these to create awareness of a problem and show how a solution worked for a real customer.
A case study’s must-have components include:
- Executive summary
- Outlining customer’s challenges
- The leading reader through the customer’s journey
- Moment of discovery
- Writing solutions as the central part
- Walking reader through implementation
- Celebrating customer results
- Closing with CTA
Gravitate’s setting the stage for success is the best example of how to transform a detailed case study for an easier read. It introduces the customer to give visitors a little background of what they do. Then they dive straight into their role of helping the customer with a robust marketing strategy.
Global Trade Professionals Alliance’s (GTPA) Capacity Building And Standards Development For Inclusive Trade is the top example of a white paper. It starts with an overview of the problem, then states the role of GTPA in solving the problem, and finally, it reveals the outcomes and way forward.
4. Press Releases
A press release is a short yet compelling news story. It is written by a public relations professional and sent to targeted members of the media. Its goal is to press release the interest of a community or business. The press release contains all the necessary information for the journalists to quickly produce their stories.
It is also defined as a brief, printed statement highlighting significant facts of a news story in journalistic style. A press release can read like a news story, written in the third person but cites quotes and sources containing standard press release information.
Press releases are essential as they can be an excellent way to start a dialogue with a report. Journalists usually get dozens of irrelevant press releases every day. So, if you reach out to a reporter with a well-written press release, they may take notice and appreciate it. The press release also helps build credibility and control the narrative. Moreover, it can also build SEO traffic and increase customer engagement with your product or service.
A press release has six essential components. These include:
- Data and location
- Boiler place
The top example of a press release is Hobby Lobby’s press release . Hobby Lobby is a nationwide retail store that issued a press release announcing an increase in the minimum wage.
With an ongoing debate on minimum wage, the store gave a newsworthy story for corporations to instill a minimum wage increase. Not only did this build a positive brand image, but it also helped attract and retain more staff.
5. Business Plans
A business plan is a technical document that tells the company’s objectives in detail. It also describes the strategies for achieving these objectives. A business plan lays out a written guide for the firm from financial, operational, and marketing standpoints. The startups and established companies use business plans as their basic requirement. A business plan is essential for a company’s external and internal audiences.
For instance, a business plan can be used to bring investment even if the company won’t have an established track record. It can also help secure lending from financial institutions. Additionally, a business plan keeps a company’s executive team on the same page about strategic actions. It helps them meet established goals. Sometimes, a business plan is created for a based business that decides to move in a new direction.
Below are some of the most common components of a business plan.
- Market analysis
- Products and services
- Marketing strategy
- Financial planning
A business plan is not as difficult as one might think. It is a written tool about a business that projects 3 to 5 years ahead. It also outlines a company’s path to make money and grow its revenue. Think of your business plan as a living project for your business and not a one-time project. Break it down into mini plans like one for sales, pricing, marketing, and so on.
If you want to write your business plan, know there is no right or wrong way to write it. You can pick a plan format and start writing. It also helps you reach business milestones and get you the required funding. The important thing is that your business plan must meet your needs.
ThoughtCo’s business plan for a fictional company called Acme Management is the best example of a business plan. Its executive summary occupies nearly half the page. So, if you intend to write your business plan, follow this example as your guide.
6. Company Documents
Business or company documents are written papers that represent you, your department, and your company. Whether it is external parties or other stakeholders in your organization, a company document will list them all. For precision, a company document is any sort of format document that is used for business purposes.
Multiple things fall into the company documents category. The list can be extended, but we will only include the most common things considered for a company document.
- Accounting Documents
- Formal Letters or Memos
- Financial Documents
- Meeting Summaries
- Business Plans
- Customer Service Documents
- Operational Documents
A company document is not only a representation of your company but also represents you. So, make sure you do a solid job putting these materials together. If you don’t know already, here is how you write the best version of a company document.
First, start with an outline that is well-organized and highly structured to be effective. If you begin writing prematurely, the thoughts will be less structured and repetitive. So, before starting, always do three things: 1) generate ideas, 2) organize, and 3) structure.
Secondly, do not bury the lead. Do not hide the most critical information deep within your writing. In company documents, do not start with a bunch of fluff. You do not need to introduce anyone and build anticipation. A business document should be as streamlined and straightforward as possible.
Thirdly, use active verbs. You do not need to make your business document a thriller; neither should it be dry and bland. Instead, make your documents a little more engaging to keep the audience engaged.
Syngenta’s financial report is the perfect example of a business document. Please give it a read to understand the main components of an excellent company document.
7. Annual Reports
As the name suggests, an annual report is a comprehensive overview of a business’s achievements and financial statements from the preceding year. It also tells the financial status and vision for the future. It is produced annually and provided to shareholders, stakeholders, investors, and others to inform them of the business’s overall performance.
Today, businesses and organizations create different types of annual reports. These are used as a marketing tool for organizations to impress their investors and donors1, showcase their brand to employees and companies, and attract new ones. Each type of annual report is designed with a specific goal in mind.
A standard annual report for a public company must have:
- A letter from the CEO
- Corporate financial data
- Market segment information
- Operation and impact
- Plans for new products
- Subsidiary activities
- Research and development activities
Depending on the size of a company, an annual report can range between 20 to 200 pages. Remember that actual human beings read your annual report. So, it must not be filled with fluff. Make it easy to read, review, and understand for the concerned people.
The annual report’s main section should include the following as its components:
- A table of contents
- Mission and vision statement
- CSR initiatives
- An afterword
- Charts, graphs, and tables
Concerning annual reports, MailChimp’s name tops the list for great examples. With bold colors and playful illustrations, the 2020 report feels more like a video game than a regular annual report. It includes yearly traditional report content, like information about products and sales, as well as fun anecdotes about their culture and data about value-based initiatives they will take. As a result, an exciting and entertaining recap of the year comes is formed.
6 Steps to Craft the Best Technical Document in 2022
After you know all the best technical writing examples, it is time to write one. But what if you write a technical document and no one reads it? To avoid this, here are six steps that one must follow to create a technical document that everyone loves to read.
1. Know Your Audience
Knowing your audience is indispensable, especially when creating technical content for a product or service. For instance, a cab driver may have a different level of knowledge and understanding than a doctor reading your SOPs.
So, before you write or even create an outline, make sure you have a clear idea of who your readers are. Knowing this lets you adjust your tone, vocabulary, and framing accordingly. It also helps you to meet your readers’ needs from their point of knowledge.
2. Do Your Research
As a technical writer, you have to guide your readers through unfamiliar territory. For this, you must know everything about that particular thing. Otherwise, it will be unwise to expect a tremendous technical document. Remember, you can only teach what you thoroughly know and understand. A knowledge gap is immediately visible when you are not thorough in your research.
The best way to do this is to place yourself in your reader’s shoes. Then, imagine you had zero knowledge of a particular thing. Doing this will force you to cover all the potential questions that come to your mind.
3. Craft an Outline
An outline is essential because it gives a roadmap of what to cover in your piece. It can also help identify knowledge gaps as you conduct your research. A longer form of technical content, like white papers and case studies, always requires an outline. It serves as their marker to remind you of what you need to include in your technical document.
Some technical writing , like business plans and annual reports, has predefined formats. You can also use a template in place of an outline.
All in all, crafting an outline is an essential component of writing great technical content.
4. Prioritize Readability
Technical writing is more fact-based rather than entertaining. So, to tackle complicated topics, use sentences that are easily readable and can make your work more enjoyable to read.
In contrast, if you are verbose in your sentences and use words that are hard to understand, you will only frustrate your reader. To improve the readability of your technical content writing, apply these tips:
- Use shorter, direct sentences that are easy to follow. Avoid passive voice wherever possible.
- Add subheadings to break up the long texts for better readability.
- Bold text and highlight paragraphs for emphasis and improving readability.
- Add hyperlinks for web pages to reference and navigate to other sections of your piece.
5. Add Visuals
A technical document is all about words and sentences, but if you add visuals, it makes both writing and reading easier. Adding visuals is becoming less of an option and a necessity today. With flowcharts, illustrations, screenshots, and more, a technical document needs a dose of visuals to look presentable.
Whether creating a user manual or business documents, your reader will be happy to see product drawings, pie charts displaying the numbers, and more.
6. Cut the Fluff
Once you have written the technical document, the final part is to double-check the facts and cut the unnecessary information.
But what exactly is fluff? Fluff is anything that does not add value to your content; instead, it negatively impacts the understanding of your text. It can be a word, a sentence, or a phrase — if you find it, cut it off. Every word in your technical document must add value to your reader’s life.
Once you know the steps to write a technical document, it is time to learn the tips that will help you write effectively.
Tips for Improving Technical Writing
Poor writing affects the reader’s understanding of the product. It also damages the reputation of the company. So, how do you make your technical writing more inspiring and practical? Below are the five tips that will make your technical writing superb, even if you are just starting writing.
- Stick to a technical writing style
- Use plain language
- Give important information first
- Clear sentence structure
- Don’t use passive voice
Good technical writing is not easy to achieve and often quite challenging to find. However, with these technical writing tips, you can take your writing to the next level and maximize the value you provide to your audience.
Now that you’ve read this guide, remember the document you create represents your company. If it’s written poorly, the user will consider it useless, and the company’s reputation will be at risk.
On the other hand, if it’s written well and follows every instruction, it will enhance user understanding, and the company will attract more attention.
So, read this guide carefully and create your technical documents accordingly. Whatever type of technical document you write, follow the rules defined above, and they will improve your skills. Always keep a note of your mistakes and things you have learned, and never stop honing your skills.
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These five techniques will transform your technical writing
5 minute read
Here is the gist of a conversation I had with a scientist a few years ago. I was teaching a one-day technical-writing course that she was (reluctantly) attending.
‘What do you write?’ ‘Mainly records of experiments and field trials.’ ‘And do you enjoy writing?’ ‘No, I absolutely loathe it.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because it’s just going to sit in a dusty folder somewhere and no one will ever read it.’
My first thought was that I might have a bit of an uphill battle on my hands that day. Happily, I was wrong.
In this short post, I won’t go through the protocols and conventions unique to technical writing, as that’s not necessary to get results (although you may find this article on how to write a paper useful). No, the key is to approach technical writing from first principles – the disciplines every writer, technical or otherwise, should be aware of and practise.
1. Be clear and logical
I usually enjoy training scientists. They have one essential quality that’s gold dust for a writer – they’re trained to think logically and clearly. While their PhD may be in low-temperature physics or fluvial dynamics, they bring a rigorous way of thinking that’s incredibly helpful when it comes to writing up their work. Refreshingly, they’re also often among the most enthusiastic and intelligent students.
When I’m training, the one thing I want people to take away is the power and importance of writing. It obviously helps if you have a love and respect for language as well, but that’s a personal thing. If I could instil in the scientist a sense of pride in her writing, at least, I thought, that would be a start.
2. Focus on the audience
For some 15 years, I was the lead writer for Jaguar. I wrote the launches of their cars and all the company’s major conferences and speeches, some of which were highly technical. But the first question any writer has to ask, regardless of the material, is always the same – who is going to read this? Or, if it’s a speech, who is going to listen to it?
An automotive engineer, for example, will have a clear understanding of terms such as ‘horsepower’ and ‘torque’ and how they influence a car’s performance. They will also be familiar with the host of abbreviations and acronyms that are common parlance in the engineering community. (Is there a sector that doesn’t have its own jargon or buzzwords?)
If a piece of writing is peer to peer, it’s generally fine to use these terms without explanation (but sparingly, please). An engine’s performance may simply be expressed in measurements, graphs and charts – if the information is simply and clearly presented, the knowledgeable reader will be able to extract what they want and interpret it. The writing will have served its primary function, which is to communicate.
3. Consider every word
Most drivers, however, would struggle to explain ‘horsepower’ and ‘torque’, let alone the difference between them. Unless they’re fully paid-up petrolheads, all they may know is that a powerful car will have a lot of both. Car manufacturers know this, of course, and that’s when (supposedly sexy) language starts creeping into the writing. ‘Effortless’ and ‘refined power’, for example, are words Jaguar often use to describe torque delivery for the layman. (I fought long and hard to suppress the truly awful ‘waftability’, but it seems to have crept into the marketing.)
The point is that you use the appropriate language for the audience. The engineer writing the technical report isn’t selling the car, so they don’t need to use adjectives and adverbs (modifying words) to communicate performance – they can let the stats do the talking. In fact, if they submit their findings to scientific journals, they’ll find that most editors delete modifiers anyway, because at best they’re subjective, and at worst vague and confusing, especially for an international audience. Editors encourage authors to ‘unpackage’ concepts – to present them in simple, clear sentences.
4. Keep it brief
Most people have a lot of things they could be doing rather than wading through 50 pages of turgid, unfocused waffle. Know your reader, know what you want to say and know why you’re saying it. Is it relevant to your reader? If not, why are you making them read it? And although you may have spent ages writing something, be aware of ‘Mr Skippy’ – the person who will just skim through the text. He may only read the sub-heads, so make sure they tell the story clearly.
5. Be active and engaging
Get people into your writing. The passive voice (‘the trials were conducted …’) may be the default in most technical writing, but the active voice is more direct (‘we conducted the trials …’). You don’t have to do it all the time: a balance between passive and active is best. But we’re people and we like to read about ourselves, even if it’s just a humble pronoun (‘we’). Incidentally, a surprising number of journals recommend the active voice in their instructions for authors, including Nature.
And the reluctant scientist on my course? I saw her for a follow-up class a couple of months later and her writing had improved immeasurably, largely because she was now thinking clearly and writing short, clear sentences. Most importantly, she was taking pride in her writing and even starting to think of publishing her work. It had been a day well spent.
Would you like Jack or another of our trainers to help your team transform their technical writing? Check out our technical-writing course and get in touch to talk about how we can tailor it for you.
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These days he's one of Emphasis' top business-writing trainers, but in previous career lives Jack has written for many public and private sector organisations. He has an in-depth knowledge of the engineering and manufacturing sectors, particularly the UK automotive industry. As the lead scriptwriter for chairmen and CEOs, he has been responsible for proposals, pitches and reports as well as high-profile speeches and global product launches.
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