Technical writing is writing about a variety of topics all within the scope of technical fields. Examples of topics in this field are computer programs, hardware and software, engineering, chemistry, aeronautics, robotics, finance, biology and a host of other fields. Technical writing has also come to provide instructions on specific tasks. Usually the end result of this activity would be a set of documents that can be clearly understood by the intended audience. Excellent technical writing explains things or tasks that are perceived to be as jargon by several audiences, and the information is presented in a manner that is easily understood by them.
Technical writing may be performed by both amateurs and professionals. For amateurs, what is done is that these writers may obtain information from the professionals or from valid documents, and begin to write about the topic on hand. Therefore technical writers may or may not be the best experts on the topic to be discussed. Today, technical writing is normally related to the proliferation of user manuals and online help stations. Much of technical writing content today is directed to the production of product notes, troubleshooting brochures, installation manuals, e-learning modules, business proposals and white papers.
Excellent technical writing has the end objective of producing essential, useful and correct information that is provided to a specific group or audience in order to help this group in its quest to accomplish something. There is, however, a small proportion of technical writing that is geared towards a larger consumer audience.
To be a good technical writer, one must have a good grasp of the English language. One must also be able to make use of the simplest language such that his audience will understand what the message is. One must also have good interviewing powers, as if one does not have a good grasp of the topic and simply has been tasked to do some technical writing, then one will have to be able to obtain as much accurate information as possible in order to be able to come up with a clear and good piece. The ability to collate information and organize the bits and pieces together in a single coherent piece is also necessary in order to become a good technical writer.
In the end, technical writing is deemed to be of high quality if the conditions of the ‘3Cs’ are fulfilled. Is the piece clear? Is the piece concise? Is the piece complete? There are the three basic questions that may be asked in order to determine if the piece is a good one, and is helpful to the intended audience. A good piece of recent technical writing could be the Apple iPad User Guide. It is written in very simple language, such that even the person with the least bit of technical knowledge may be able to move around the iPad. One can find the necessary illustrations such that visually, the parts of the iPad may be located. The manual also begins with the basics, such that any first-time user is attuned to the gadget first and can move around the main operations of the same before moving on to more complicated operations.
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