What technical writers do

Technical writers create information that:

Information is presented to readers in a variety of documents.

  1. Document types
  2. Creating what readers need
  3. Managing information

Document types

Technical writers create many types of document, including:

In the past, these documents were available only in print. Now, we can also read the documents on screens. For example, brochures and trade-press articles appear on websites; policies and procedures are available on intranets. Screen delivery has also brought new types of document; for example, help systems, which are integrated into software products.

Creating what readers need

The technical writer's work is to provide exactly what readers need. Hence, the requirements for writers are to create documents that:

The following sections summarise the individual tasks that technical writers need to carry out for each of these requirements.

Selecting the right information

Technical writers must:

Making information easy to use

Technical writers must:

Making information easy to understand

Technical writers must:

Summary

To create successful documents, technical writers need to carry out a wide range of tasks. They also need to analyse large amounts of information that is sometimes unfamiliar and often complex. Consequently, many projects will place high intellectual demands on writers, especially the ability to think clearly — in fact, the writing is usually the easy part.

Managing information

As well as creating the information that readers read, technical writers take on roles in the design and production of documents:

The next section (Before contacting technical writers) expands on the topics in this section and provides general information about technical writers and creating documents.

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