Technical writer  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A technical writer is a professional writer who designs, writes, creates, maintains, and updates technical documentation—including online help, user guides, white papers, design specifications, system manuals, and other documents. Engineers, scientists, and other professionals may also produce technical writing, sometimes handing their work to a professional technical writer for editing and formatting. A technical writer's primary responsibility is to produce technical documentation for technical, business, and consumer audiences.

Contents

Skill set

Beyond possessing solid research, language, and writing skills, a technical writer's skill set may include:

Technical writing may be on any subject that requires explanation to a particular audience. A technical writer is usually not a Subject Matter Expert (SME), but possesses and applies expertise to interview SMEs and conduct research necessary to produce accurate, comprehensive documents. Companies, governments and other institutions hire technical writers not for their expertise in a particular subject, but for their expertise in technical writing, i.e., their ability to gather information, analyze subject and audience, and produce clear documentation.

A good technical writer creates documentation that is accurate, complete, unambiguous, and as concise as possible. Technical writers communicate in many ways: printed documentation, web-based or other electronic documentation, training materials, and industrial film scripts.

Qualifications

Technical writers normally possess a mix of technical and language abilities. They may have a degree or certification in technical communications. Many technical writers switch from another technical field such as engineering or science, often after taking classes in technical communications.

A good technical writer has the ability to create, assimilate and convey technical material in a concise and effective manner. A technical writer may specialize in a technical area in which they have acquired expertise. For example, some API writers mostly work on API documents, while others specialize in medical or environmental material.

Technical writers work under many job titles, including Technical Communicator, Information Developers, Data Development Engineer, or Technical Documentation Specialists. In the United Kingdom and some other countries, a technical writer is often called a technical author or knowledge author.

Methodology

When creating a document, a technical writer gathers information by studying existing material and interviewing subject matter experts (SMEs). The technical writer also studies the audience to learn their needs and technical level.

Well-formed technical documents follow common publishing guidelines. Technical documentation comes in all styles and formats, depending on the medium. Printed documentation has different standards from online documentation. Usually, technical writers follow formatting conventions described in a standard style guide. In the US, most technical writers use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). Many companies have their own corporate style guides, typically extensions of the CMS to cover specific corporate issues. One of these, the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications is even used by some other companies.

Engineering projects, particularly defense or aerospace related projects, often follow national and international documentation standards—such as ATA100 for civil aircraft, or S1000D for defense platforms.

Environment

Technical writers often work as part of a writing or project development team. In most cases, after the writer finishes a draft of the documentation, one or more SMEs review it for accuracy and completeness. This is sometimes referred to as 'peer review' or 'verification'. In some cases the writer or others test the document on audience members.

The role of the technical writer in the project teams, is to develop the overall project documentation, as other members of the team develop other areas of the project. For example, as a member of a project development team, as engineers designs and integrate a system, the technical writer generates the manuals that go with the system.

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Technical writer" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools