How Is Technical Writing Different From Other Types Of Writing?

There are so many different types of writing. Copywriting involves describing a product or service in a desirable way and convincing potential customers to purchase it - it is writing that is designed to sell. Literary writing is fictional work that focuses on the human condition - it is meant to entertain and provoke an emotional response in readers. Although many types of writing have at least a few things in common, technical writing is completely different. There are numerous characteristics of technical writing that set it apart from all other types:

The sole purpose of technical writing is to educate and inform.

Technical writing documents aren't intended to be entertaining or convince individuals about the merits of a specific product. Instead, they are designed to educate readers about a specific technical subject or provide instruction about a process. Assembly instructions, for example, are strictly "how-to" documents - they don't discuss the benefits of the product or why it is superior to similar products on the market.

Technical writing does not involve expressing opinions or emotions about a topic.

Technical writing is completely objective, and there is no room for the author to express her thoughts or opinions about the material being presented. Technical writing is all about facts, and these must always be presented in a clear and concise manner. The author cannot let his or her opinions influence the contents or the tone of the document.

Technical writing documents are geared towards a highly specific audience.

While some types of writing (novels, for instance) are designed to appeal to a large audience, technical documents are written with a particular audience in mind. Training materials for a company, for example, are written specifically for employees, while help files are written for users who have purchased a certain piece of hardware or software. Being familiar with the intended audience and writing the document for that audience is absolutely essential if an individual hopes to create a highly effective piece of technical writing.

Technical writing requires in-depth research and extensive knowledge.

It's not enough for a technical writer to have a general idea of the topic he is writing about. The technical writer must be able to prepare a document that focuses on the exact topic being addressed or process being discussed. Readers must be told about how to use the specific machine in their place of employment or how to install the exact make and model of printer they purchased.

Last Updated: 05/05/2014