The Truth Behind Technical Writing: 6 Secrets High-Dollar Technical Writers Don’t Tell You

Have you been searching for a technical writer to help you reorganize and repackage complex information? Are you having a tough time putting complicated information into words your customers can understand? Need to facilitate better communications between your business and other professionals? That’s where technical writers come in. There are all sorts of freelance technical writers ready to help you make your technical information easier to manage.

Technical writers have a few aces up their sleeve that they won’t tell clients about. There’s a certain “mystery” to technical writers and what they actually do, and having a better understanding of what you need and what qualifications your content deserves will help you make a more informed decision when hiring a technical writer. Technical writers are valuable assets, but one size certainly doesn’t fit all when it comes to finding the right person.

Here are six little-known facts about the Technical Writing profession—facts you need to know to make the most out of your time with a technical writer.

Technical Writing Is More Common Than You Think!!

It’s a common misconception that “technical writing” is reserved for mathematics, computers, and advanced sciences. Technical writing includes everything from advanced reports and studies in computational and scientific fields, educational manuals, environmental science reports, and even further into things like instruction manuals, customer help resources, and business reports. Not all technical writing is about technology—recipes are one example of non-technical technical writing.

If you need someone that can parse complex information into words that non-technical individuals can understand, you need a technical writer. A classic example of common technical writings would be the “Dummies” book series, like “Microsoft Word for Dummies,” or “Cooking for Dummies.” Technical writing explains what makes sense to some of us, to the rest of us. Nothing terribly complex about that, is there?

Technical Writers Bridge the Gap between SME’s and Everyone Else

No writer can produce written material in a vacuum, and this especially applies to technical writers. When technical writers are researching and assembling information, they refer to Subject Matter Experts (SME’s) in the field for vital details and critical information. SME’s have information that people need to know, and technical writers specialize in organizing their material, anticipating that need for detailed information, and reaching out to experts ahead of time.

The ability to cross that chasm and bring highly trained experts together with laymen consumers and clients is why technical writers are so incredibly valuable in today’s society. As our world becomes more complex, we need people that not only understand it, but can help others understand it as well. Not only do technical writers work with SME’s, they can also become an SME in their field. If your business and your content marketing hinges on your own good reputation and extensive knowledge, becoming an SME is great for social media marketing.

Technical Writers Capitalize On Being Thorough

In order to help non-technical people understand technical concepts, technical writers have to be organized. I’m not talking having separate slots for ingoing mail and outgoing mail on their desk, either. Technical writers have to handle complex information and figure out how to present it logically, in ways that make sense and can be easily followed.

Advanced science is about as clear as mud to most people. A good technical writer could walk an untrained layperson through not only the technical properties and findings of advanced scientific findings, but they can also explain the significance and meaning that these results have on the field, and on the reader. Being organized enough to identify and catalog each step and each individual finding is an absolute necessity.

Technical Writers Understand their Audience

This holds true for all kinds of writers, but especially technical writers. When documenting an assignment, technical writers have to consider the level of understanding their readers will have for the materials they’re reading.

If a technical writer is producing scientific materials for a scientific community, they might use advanced jargon and technical language with the presumption that their audience will naturally understand it. If a technical writer is producing the same scientific materials for consumers or non-technical individuals, they might tone the writing down and use more familiar, non-technical terminology, or they might provide a wealth of footnotes and a thorough glossary of terms and their definitions.

Docsymmetry’s “Audience Analysis the Easy Way” breaks the technical writing audience analysis process down into easily understood concepts, and is definitely worth taking a look at.

There Are Different Kinds of Technical Writers

The ability to relate to different audiences is why not all technical writers are created equal. Some may specialize in parsing information for nontechnical audiences. Others may specialize in advanced documentation and composition. Knowing the distinction can help save you time, money, and headaches when choosing a technical writer that suits your needs.

What’s more, some technical writers don’t even write! Many technical writers act as editors, reviewing material produced by actual professionals and helping them organize and clarify their writings. Other technical writers specialize in content generation, where they are the primary author and researcher.

Good Technical Writers Use Content Marketing Techniques

Last but not least, technical writers understand the value of text formatting, spacing, and emphasis. Good technical writers can divide their writings into more easily-understood blocks of material by using emphasized lines, subheadings, visual layout cues and other tricks content marketers use. Technical writers know they have the same tools and skills content marketers do, and some jokingly move over to “the dark side” for extra work.

Technical writers understand the value of making online content easier to read—partly because it makes sense and helps outline logical thought progressions, and also because it’s their job!

These facts aren’t necessarily something technical writers hide from their clients. They’re just a part of the job, and more often than not, technical writers take these points for granted. Technical writers are valuable assets for B2B copywriters and SEO content marketers because they can produce highly valuable, highly accessible content that can do everything. Good technical content can boost search engine results, give your business an authoritative edge over the competition, answer customer questions, and provide valuable knowledge for anyone looking for it.

If you’re in need of a technical content writing service, hire someone that actually cares about your company and your needs first and foremost!!

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Andrew Glasscock is currently based in Nashville, Tennessee. He graduated with a BA in English, specialized in Creative Writing, with a minor in Marketing this past May. Along with copywriting, he loves being an improv comedian, playing frisbee, and dogs.

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    1. My own viewpoint that technical writing is basically all about knowing how to write. Technical experience is fine but first and foremost is writing ability. All else follows from that.
      Larry Czaplyski was just talking about…Anon., the Technical WriterMy Profile

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