Technical writing is a unique form of communication that stands apart from other types of writing. It’s not something you read for fun or to hear a story. Technical writing has one main goal: to help and inform the reader whey they need it.
Let’s explore the characteristics of good technical writing and how it differs from other types of writing.
Technical documentation serves a distinctive purpose to help and inform the reader at the moment of need.
This means that technical documents can be short, including only the bare minimum of what is needed to explain an idea or process.
The goal is not to write long articles or keep the reader engaged, but to provide help so they can quickly get back to what they were working on.
Let’s consider a real-world scenario.
Imagine that you are starting to install a new home automation system. The company gives you two guides: one that is clear and to the point, and the other that is long and disorganized. Most likely, you would choose the first guide so you can easily set up your system without wasting time or energy.
Teach and assist
Technical documentation isn’t written for entertainment. Its primary goal is to effectively teach the reader something new or help them overcome a challenge.
Good technical writing is:
- Clear and simple: Skilled technical writers have a strong command of language and the ability to communicate complex concepts in simple terms.
- Concise: Technical documentation is typically brief, containing only the necessary information to explain a concept or process.
- Easy to follow: The content is broken down into smaller sections or steps, making it easier for the reader to digest and comprehend. Important concepts are highlighted, and supporting details are provided to help clarify any confusion.
- Scannable and easy to browse: The content is well-organized and easy to scan, allowing readers to quickly find the information they need.
- Focused on utility: The main objective of technical documentation is to support the reader, allowing them to get back to their work as fast as possible.
Key characteristics of technical writing
In technical documentation, you’ll find:
- Detailed instructions: Technical writing often features manuals or guides that walk the reader through a procedure or process, ensuring they understand each step thoroughly.
- Plain language: Technical writers use plain language that is easily accessible and understood by everyone, avoiding jargon or metaphors.
- Visual elements: Visual aids such as diagrams, charts, and illustrations are used to enhance understanding. These visuals provide additional context and help illustrate complex concepts or processes. Sometimes, well-designed illustrations are all you need, just like those found in an airplane manual or when assembling furniture.
- Consistency in style and formatting: To maintain clarity, good technical writing adheres to a consistent style and format throughout the document.
Unlock the power of technical writing for your business
Now that you know the differences between technical writing and other writing disciplines, you may be considering hiring professional help to create or update your technical documentation. Our technical writing services can help you craft documentation that is not only informative and easy to understand but also reinforces your brand reputation and credibility.
Ready to elevate your business through the power of good technical writing? Book a free 30-minute strategy call with us to explore how effective writing technical documentation can make all the difference.