Introduction To Techincal Writing
Every day we are making so many decisions in our daily routine life. In this Era, we can say they all are depending on technical information. We can understand the decision effectiveness through technology for example- A man needs to get the operated for knee replacement, the technical factor is there the tool and the quality of the product which is going to be fitted with the body.
We have various choices as a product in every field. Every product has its specifications, either it is medical, scientific, home appliances, and teaching in a school too. We have great options to choose the product accordingly. In today’s life, we are using machines with the latest technique, Softwares, and Applications. When we use these techniques we need some manuals, some instructions have to be followed by us.
By doing so, we can get the desired result from technology. When we talk about technical writing earlier, it was known as the documentation of any product. If we talk about the 90s, the software has the documentation. That time it was a branch called the software documentation in this industry.
The eligibility criteria for that is, one must have an engineering degree and proficient knowledge of MS-office. Later on the dependency of machines, the software is essential for a man, so the professionals are to be appointed for technical writing purposes. And nowadays, it has a gigantic market for writing.
Technical Writing: – Technical Writing is a step-by-step process and guideline which describes how to use the product, machinery, software, and use of any scientific machine or research. It gives all kinds of instructions to the user like how to install software, how to assemble a machine. It’s become more common, but more essential than before that’s why it opens a new market of employment and allowing people who have perfection in a particular field.
They can do Technical Writing after retirement, too. Nowadays, we all require this writing in every field. Nobody has left of this. Because when we talk about Technical Writing at earlier. It considers only for any machine manuals and Instructional guides while assembling any machine.
But in today’s world, the Word ‘Technical’ has become powerful so as the Technical Report Writing. Every area of our life is highly affected by any technology. And to use that technology, we have some manuals, some guidelines, some descriptions, some do’s and don’t instructions.
We can take a simple Grass Cutter Machine of a Gardner. Gardner will also need the manual and step-by-step guidelines to assemble that particular machine. So we can say that this is the only medium between the who has invented the machine or who is using the machine or technology.
History of Technical Writing-
As we all know human nature is inquisitive about all the things he surrounds. The question is that –Why we need Technical Writing? Where did it come into the world? Is this a necessity in today’s world, or did we need it at an early stage? Some basic questions are there in the mind. The answer is yes. It also has a great history We can get it in a concise Briefing.
- In the 1500 BC to 1000 BC we all know it, the Vedic era in India, In this era, there were so many inventions which had to be done by the Indian philosophers, created 4 Vedas, Puran, Sanhita. And we can say that these are inventions and their experiences for us towards the various fields, like in Ayurved they wrote about medical science.
- In Sushruta Samhita, this was the first book of India, which introduced Operation Therapy for the human body, had written by Sushruta.
- The formal Technical Writing has found in 384-322 BC by Aristotle. Aristotle had done the documentation for “The Doctrine of Pythagoras”. It was the field that demands a specific set of skills for the Technical Communicators.
- The first Published official document in English was written by Geoffrey in 1343-1400. It was a scientific device used for measuring the distance of stars, Planet, etc.. This documentation was worked well for his fame.
- Many Inventions including the printing machines were introduced in the 15th century. Famous Inventors and scientists like Leonardo de Vinci (1452-1519) and Isaac Newton (1642-1727) compiled the documentation with their inventions and Findings. That was the need of time and the society to secure all the techniques in the form of documentation, By doing so They became it the foundation of the modern form of Technical writing and communication.
- When we talk about the 20th century, Nuclear technology and industrial development were started. The actual need for technical writing was arrested in society.
- The British Era in India, When the universities, the science, The transport system, the libraries were on their growing stage to enhance the technology in society. It raised the need for documentation high.
The Purpose of Technical Content Writing
We all may see this job profile ‘Technical Content Writer’ or the Technical Writing popping on the various networking platforms. Only to ask yourself: What exactly does the Technical Writer do?
The definition of Technical Writing is that it is the way of writing that focuses on documenting the knowledge base of products and services to make it easier to understand for the common people or end-users.
The job of the Technical Writer is to create specialized content (for example-Medical research news, Instrument instructions, software manuals, product manuals, step by step instructions for the electric product installation process.) and Communicate it as efficiently as the end-user can connect with it.
It is obvious, The information which has been provided by the Technical Writer for the particular product must be Clear, Reliable, Relevant, and Accurate, and without any gap of interpretation.
The content must be presented in a user-friendly manner or one can say this must be audience-oriented. For example, this is good to have the text manual for a washing machine. But there is no use of text manual for grass cutting machine. It requires the installation with the help of images as well as the text language must be regional. It’s all about the consideration of the target audience who are going to use a particular product.
As more user manuals are going online another purpose of Technical Content Writing now becomes the marketing tools nowadays. Because of it, the documentation team can start to earn more money for the company by doing their job.
Who does Technical Content Writing
When Technical Writing was in the initial stage, it was only inventors, scientists, engineers who wrote the documentation about how to use, how to maintain or repair the particular product. But the engineers are not the writers, so they created the documentation in a bulky bundle format. One is not attractive, hard to understand for the common people.
So the need for some good creative writers was increased, especially after world war 2. So the U.S justice department was announced the Technical Writing as a profession in 1980.
Now a day we have manuals and user instructions guide with every product, either it is a soap or it is a big generator. We all are finding the information about the product in various forms as text and graphics. Technical documentation can deliver in the printed and non printed and online form.
In the printed section there is the example of manuals, instructional guides, product descriptions in the text, and graphic format whether it is printed on paper or online. Non-printing material includes manuals/Instructional guidelines in an audio-visual format.
Skills of a Good Technical Content Writer
To be honest, the skills completely depend on your niche, your previous experiences, the interest of a person. So many factors are there to affect the technical content writer. There are 10 skills of a Good Technical Writer-
- One must have excellent writing and communication skills:-This is an essential element for surviving this industry. The person who is trying to become the content writer in any form like it can be academic, creative, diary, biography, autobiography, or Technical Writing. The essential ingredient of any kind of writing is “The Writing Skills”. Without having it, there will be a lot of difficulties in this industry. So this is the essentiality to have excellent writing and communication skill for becoming the Technical Content Writer.
- Proficient in Research and Analysis in the market- It can be said that a Technical Writer must be good at research. By doing so, the writer can elaborate on his ideas and explain the result of research and analysis as well as the documentation in a very presentable form. Now Technical Writing is becoming the marketing tool as well. So it can be beneficial for the organization to achieve the goals.
- Systematic –This is the basic element of any kind of writing, especially for Technical Writers. To be systematic enhances the presentation of any report and manual. For example-If, a Technical Writer has to explain that ‘How to assemble the cartridge in the printer?’then, he must define how to open the cabin of the cartridge in the printer, how to connect it with the images, and the direction must be there to insert the cartridge. All work and we can say instruction must be sequentially and systematic. It must be the habit of a Good Technical Writer.
- Technical Experiences –It is good to have the technical knowledge of a particular technology or field in which the person is interested to do Technical Writing. For example –if a person is having the IT experiences so he must do the technical writing in the IT Sector. It will be an exploration of his experience in the IT sector. It doesn’t mean if any person doesn’t have the technical experience can not be a Technical Writer, but one has to be ready for research and keen to learn about the product specification and services. So a Good Technical Writer who has the plan for the documentation sequentially at the early stage of creating the documentation. It shows by the result in itself, the result will be good, organized, clear documentation of any product and services.
- Must be a Good Team Player-If we talk about Technical Writing it has a huge departmental connection in it. In today’s technical world, only Technical Writing is not enough for creating manuals and instructional guides. The separate team or we can say a separate department has established in various companies for the documentation. In this department the designer, the editor, the technical person of the operational department to explore the product or services to the writers.so that they can explain it in a very user-friendly manner. The thing is a user guide can only be clear when the writer knows the functions and features of the product. It connects the writer to the operation department in the organization. So the Technical Writer needs to be a good team player. This industry is becoming big and finding so many opportunities to explore. For surviving as well as performing well it is the necessity to be a good team player.
- Skills to connect with society- For the Technical Writer, it is good to have the skills of social performing, social connectivity, and the knowledge of society and sociology. This is an important skill because the Technical Writer works for the non-technical person or we can say for the target user who does not have any technical knowledge and they do not want to know. They want only to enjoy the product and services while using it. So a Technical Writer must know the social factor of a society. For example- In IFB dishwasher manuals all the errors are in a graphic format so that they are easier to understand for a normal housewife and their maid also can understand by seeing the same error graphic presentation in the manual. The language, the presentation of any manual matters a lot because it directly connects to the company and the target user or we can say the common people. It leaves an impression on the target user’s mind after using the product. Connect with society in that term, documentation writing is knowing how the readers think and figuring out the best way to delivering content for this part of society.
- Good use of common sense- Yet! Another one ‘Must Have ‘for Technical Communicator. Your common sense helps to see the thing when you are doing some awful work/presentation. For example, if You have to create the manual for the printer and how many graphics, or images you must be used in manuals, if your answer is no use of graphics, then it will be no use of manual and no use for the end-user. Reality checks help to restore common sense quickly. Don’t be too self-assured to often. Go, Ask around the people’s opinion.
- Critical Thinking –Critical thinking has vast criteria in itself and the essential part of a Tech Writer. Basically it can be defined as an ability to make some reasonable, logical, and clear judgments. This process includes gathering pieces of information, Analysis, systemizing it. To be systemized is a small part of a critical thinking story. Whenever we as the question of What makes a good critical thinker? There are lots of theories but the simple answer is ‘Personal Experiences’. The more processing information is, the clearer the output will be.
- Knowing computers – It includes the basic knowledge of computers. It can be an optional skill set. But recent market demand shows that writing in notepad is not enough for the tech communicators. So many documentation tools and templates are available into the market for increasing the presentation effectiveness to the target user.
- Education- Is it necessary to become a tech writer for having a degree in a particular industry? Earlier it was not mandatory but now as concerns, some employers hire a very specific Technical Content Developer. For that post, they have the criteria of having an education in a particular industry. For example, in the IT sector it is compulsory to have an engineering degree and proficient knowledge of MS office and other tools of writing. Some organizations hire only the journalism candidate for content writing. But all of them the quality of the presentation has matters a lot.
The list of the skills of a good technical writer has completed. But it does not mean that The Technical Writer has to be all of these things. No. But in Technical Writing as a profession, there is always an opportunity to grow as a specialist.
Types of Technical content writing
Product Description: Whatever we are watching on the E-commerce sites. We see the information about the product with the size and other specifications. For-example we can take the example of a very simple product .i.e., calculator. When we search for a calculator on any e-commerce site. We have all the specification and pictures and price warranty along with the offers. With the help of this information, we can choose the best product out of them.
User manual: User manuals have to be created for the machines either it can be electrical or non-electrical. Besides that, every product has the manual even a small pressure cooker has the user manual with the pictures. The Technical Writer must write a manual for the target audiences to get them easily understand.
The user manual usually contains The Photographs, Disclaimers, Numbered diagrams, Sequenced directions, Flow Charts, A troubleshooting guides, The warranty, and the customer support numbers. The Technical Writer has to understand the product feature during the manufacturing time and by visiting the manufacturing department at an early stage of production. More often, the Technical Writer tries to learn the operation of the device.
Through the self-learning process, The Technical Communicator anticipates problems that a typical user would face. The Technical communicator has observed the problem area and has a discussion with other experts, if necessary. The communicator incorporates the most common problems and solutions in the troubleshooting guide.
Unusual and improbable situations are best left to the Help Desk or Customer support department. The user manual has to be supportive to operate any machine and disclose all the solutions to every problem searched by the user. So the language of the manual must be easy to understand.
Software Installation Guide: As we all know the computer software must be equipped with the documentation or a guide by which users can install the software. It has some basic requirements for it. For example: if we are installing any printer software through its CD. The manual has contained the information that the printer has to be connected with the computer or laptop while installing the software. Without it, the installation process will not be complete or start.
Standard Operating Procedures: Nowadays the working style and the culture of the organization has become more mechanical. They have created the documentation for payroll, hire a new employee, or calculate the vacation time. We can call the SOP as a manual of an organization so that all the employees must do their job in the same disciplinary approach.
Conclusion– Technical Content writing is not as easy as it seems and it has a big scope and this job is available for everyone. Nowadays An organization has considered a machine and in every department, this is the need to have the documentation of the department to use the disciplinary approach in the organization in the form of Standard Operating Procedures.
We can say that every person in every department has the scope to become a technical writer because of the SOP. In the upcoming years, there will be no department left without the tech communicator. I hope that this article will inspire to those unfamiliar with the field and encouraged the technical communicators towards the new directions and development.
Leave out all the hesitations and start a career in Technical communication.