Tech Writing

Types of Technical Writing: How to Choose? (2022)

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Technical writing is a broad field that cuts through different fields of study such as Technical Communication, Engineering, and Computer Science.

Technical writing is a very detail-oriented writing field that requires knowledge of writing, and technologies. Therefore, there are different types of technical writing for different technical content and skill level.

This article is part of our Technical Writing Series, you can read the previous series before you jump to this one.

  • What is Technical Writing?: We explored technical writing in-depth and get you started creating your first technical content.
  • Who is a Technical Writer?: We explore who a technical writer is, the different types of technical writers, and the different skillset required to become a technical writer.
  • Types of Technical Writing: We broke down technical writing into 3 broad types and discuss in detail these different types and how to choose a specific category.
  • Technical Writing Niches: We explored the different technical writing niches or types of technical content you can specialize in as a technical writer and produce.
  • The Technical Writing Process: We will explore the lean technical writing process that will help you create high-quality technical content consistently.
  • How to Become a Good Technical Writer? We discussed the factors you need to make you stand out and become a good technical writer.

In this series, we are going to break down technical writing into 3 broad types and discuss in detail these different types and how to choose a specific category.

What is Technical Writing?

Technical writing is a form of writing that translates complex technical topics into easily digestible and understandable content.

It covers a pattern of writing where the writer writes on a particular subject that requires breaking down the complex part of the subject to its simplest form by giving direction, instruction, or explanation about that particular subject matter.

MUST READ:  Top 5 Technical Writing Resources: How to Hone your Technical Writing Skills (2022)

Technical writing comes with a different style, it carries a different purpose and involves different characteristics that are different from other writing styles such as creative writing, freelance writing, business writing, or academic writing.

A portfolio builder for tech writers

Here is a more detailed and complete guide to technical writing.

Types of Technical Writing

It is categorized into these 3 broad categories or its assignments normally take one of three forms:

  • End-user documentation
  • Traditional technical writing
  • Technical marketing communications

End-user Documentation

The End-user documentation also known as customer-oriented documentation provides instructions for the end-user of a given product. This type lays the instructions in such a way that it is easier to understand by non-technical users.

Here are some of the few technical writing examples of end-user documentation:

  • User manuals or user guides.
  • FAQ sections
  • Documentations
  • Knowledge bases
  • Company wikis
  • Online help centers
  • How-to guides
  • Setup and installation guides

Traditional technical Writing

Traditional technical writing is a concept where content is written by an audience with specific expertise for their peers. 

It is also called Expert to expert tech documentation or freelance technical writing.

In technical writing, companies contract freelance technical writers with a certain expert level in technologies or proven knowledge of technical writing to write detailed content for companies.

This is where freelance technical writers become very relevant. Companies are increasingly in demand for expert technological-related careers to create content for them based on their experience using a specific technology or technical content related to how these technical writers use their product.

You can learn how to create your freelance technical writing portfolio from scratch to attract high-paying clients.

Here are some of the few examples of traditional technical writing:

  • Technical blog posts
  • Online Articles
  • Knowledge base
  • Tutorials
  • Howto Guides
  • Technical specs and API documentation
MUST READ:  How to Write a Good "How-to" Guide (2022)

Technical marketing communications

These are technical writers who contribute to the marketing materials of a product or company at large. These technical writers need to communicate their expertise in a more user-friendly language to help the prospective buyer understand and take an interest in the product.

This is related to the term “Product-led technical writing”, which has to do with writing and structuring your technical content to attract leads, buyers, and customers to a specific product.

This area of technical writing houses many names such as technical content marketing, technical marketing, technical content manager, etc.

Here are some of the few examples of technical marketing communication:

  • White papers
  • Surveys
  • Marketing-related case studies
  • Business plans.
  • Product Reviews

This type of content promotes a product or service to the desired audience. The technical writing process differentiates the different types of technical writing listed above.

Choosing a Type of Technical Writing

Choosing a specific type of technical writing is subjective and depends on you, your skillsets, and your writing passion.

We will only list out guidelines while you made the final choice based on your qualities and passion as a writer.

Here are some of the questions to ask yourself to determine the type of technical writing to choose.

  1. Do I love writing for end users?
  2. Is my technical content targeted at non-techies?
  3. Do I love working full-time, or part-time as a technical writer?
  4. Is my content informative or marketing?
  5. Is my content targeted at engineers or users?
  6. etc

There are many questions to ask yourself before choosing a specific type. However, here is our summary.

End-user documentation

Choose end-user documentation is your answer YES to the following questions.

  1. If you enjoy writing technical content targeted at users, end-users
  2. My content target is users.
  3. My content is always informative.
  4. My content target is non-techies.
MUST READ:  Understanding Freelance Technical Writing: Ultimate Guide (2022)

Traditional Technical Writing

Choose traditional technical writing is your answer YES to the following questions.

  1. I want to work part-time.
  2. Technical writing is a side-hustle.
  3. If you enjoy writing technical content targeted at users, end-users
  4. My content is always targeted at users.
  5. My content is always informative.
  6. My content is targeted at non-techies.

Technical marketing communications

Choose technical marketing communications is your answer YES to the following questions.

  1. I want to work full-time
  2. I want to work in a technical marketing team
  3. My content is mostly for marketing.
N/B: As a technical writer, you can write any kind of technical content as everything is learnable. We only give clues in case you want to specialize. So don't limit yourself. Start learning and start writing.

Summary

Technical writing is a broad field and it’s also booming and paying handsomely. However, to stand out from the crowd, you need to specialize in a field within technical writing.

In this article, we explore the different types of technical writing grouped into 3 broad categories. We also explored how to choose a specific category for specialization.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

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6 Comments

  1. Pingback: What is Technical Writing? The Complete Guide (2022) - Contentre Blog

  2. Pingback: Who is a Technical Writer? How to become one (2022) - Contentre Blog

  3. Pingback: Top 14 Profitable Technical Writing Niches (2022): Choosing one - Contentre Blog

    • Yes. A non-technical person can become a content writer. You need to do research regarding to the type of writing you want to dive into.

  4. Pingback: What Is Technical Writing? The Complete Guide (2022) – Writers World

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