What Is Technical Writing?

As a technical writer, one of the questions you will frequently be asked is "what is technical writing?" The answer to this question is not as simple as many people might think. According to one site, technical writing is literature that helps people solve problems. This definition is overly broad, however, and somewhat inaccurate. It does not actually explain what technical writing is.

To develop a better explanation, it is helpful to consider the definition of the word "technical." When the term is used to describe an individual (a technical expert, for example), it means the person has an advanced knowledge of a highly specific topic or field. The term "technical" can also refer to information related to a particular line of work or subject area, like robotics, chemistry, or biotechnology.

Technical writing, then, involves learning about complex and specialized processes and topics, and then developing literature about these subjects. This is only part of a technical writer's job, however; the writer must also present information in such a way that it will be easily understood by the intended audience. Technical writing, therefore, is the process of researching specialized topics and writing about them in an accessible and easy-to-understand manner for an audience of experts, technicians, executives, or non-specialists.

Last Updated: 05/05/2014