What is Technical Writing?

A web definition of Technical Writing describes it ”as a form of technical communication used in a variety of technical and occupational fields, such as computer hardware and software, engineering, medicine, chemistry, aeronautics and astronautics, robotics, finance, consumer electronics, and biotechnology”.

There is an obvious requirement for the terminology to be clarified. In my opinion, the term ‘Technical Writing’ has been used in very broad terms across other industries such as; Technical Journalism, Marketing, Copywriting of a technical nature, Technology reviews, Medical writing, Bid writing, Report writing where the resultant documents are of a technical nature but would be written quite differently and serve completely different audiences. Because of the cross-use of the term, the nature of the occupation has become confusing and at times misrepresented.

Software user documentation is “a specific form of technical communication written by a Technical Writer as user instruction for a variety of software products that may be used in any one of the previously mentioned technical and occupational fields”.

I am, however, of the opinion that the term is too broad when used as is. So, my recommendation is to use the terms; Technical Writer or Technical Communicator, but always add your specialization if any, for example, Technical Writer – Software user documentation or Technical Communicator – Engineering. The reason I take this approach is because I am not a marketing guru nor a technical newshound, but as a software development professional I know and understand software development very well and that is why I create software user documentation.