What Technical Writing Really Is

Technical writing is all around you, but do you really know what it is? The goal of technical writing is simply to communicate information about technology that the reader can use and understand. That’s easy, right? There are three main types of technical writing used to accomplish this goal: end-user documentation, hardware and software technical documentation, and technical marketing communications.

End-user documentation is intended to educate people about how to use products, whether they are consumer oriented (microwave ovens) or software products (how to use Microsoft Excel). Think instruction manuals, product guides, patient information booklets, and quick reference cards. Here the writer must learn to use the device/product first and know what questions the user may have so these questions can be addressed.

Hardware and software technical documentation is written for very technical audiences, whether they are software engineers, hardware programmers, or jet engine manufacturers. Shoap specializes in these types of projects because of the technical expertise of our writers. We produce documents, such as functional requirements specifications, which tell a programmer what the end result of his/her programming work must be. Message specifications, software development kits (SDK), and system architecture documents also fall in this category, as do modem configuration and API manuals.

Finally, technical marketing communications, or marcom, are promotional items that tell you some of the technical details about products in order to get you to buy them. Product data sheets and white papers are examples of this type of writing.

Almost every professional field needs technical writing, from automobile manufactures, aerospace, and video games. Shoap has produced documents from instructions on how to make chicken nuggets to how to program an application programming interface (API). Whether or not you realize it, you probably do some technical writing in your job. Think about any time you’ve had to explain how to do something with technology and needed to communicate about it in writing. Tell us about it!

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