A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication (and technical writing).

Technical Writing

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Technical Writing, a form of technical communication, is a style of formal writing and business communication, used in fields as diverse as computer hardware and software, chemistry, the aerospace industry, robotics, finance, consumer electronics, and biotechnology. Good technical writing clarifies technical jargon; that is, it presents useful information that is clear and easy to understand for the intended audience.



The Creative Tech Writer

The Creative Tech Writer is a work in progress, loosely centered around the art and craft of technical writing as it applies to a variety of fields, and vice versa.

Berger, Jenny L. Creative Tech Writer, The. Resources>Writing>Technical Writing>Blogs


A Creative Way to Become a Technical Writer

Deciding to become a technical writer was easy. But finding the experience and the time has proven unforgiving. My job is not based on writing; in fact, writing is rarely needed. I do not have the schooling of a technical writer (yet!) nor the experience, and there were probably a 101 ways to write the documents better. But I’m willing to learn, and the documents I’ve created, while showing that I have plenty of room for improvement, are enough to help me get my foot in the door and transform my job towards the career I want.

Pruitt, Sarah. I'd Rather Be Writing (2009). Careers>Documentation>Technical Writing


Cures for the Information Exclusion Complex

Some years ago, I used to suffer from developer neglect, or to use a more scientific term, from a kind of information exclusion complex. You know what I’m talking about. Developers make updates to the interface, often at the last minute, and don’t let the tech writer know what changed. As a result, the help is wrong and out of date. It’s a frustrating experience from the writer’s perspective.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Collaboration>Technical Writing>SMEs


A Curmudgeon's Guide to Computer Documentation

Is documentation a bad word? It is if you’re the Curmudgeon, a character I invented, who some say bears an amazing resemblance to … me.

West, Mike. MBWest.com. Articles>Documentation>Technology>Technical Writing


Current Status Of Business And Technical Writing Courses In English Departments

We have heard a great deal of talk in recent years about the growth of business and technical writing courses in English departments. But very little, if any, factual information exists on how much enrollments have grown and whether they are expected to grow in the near future. Furthermore, no study has attempted to assess the impact these relatively new, rapidly expanding courses are having and will continue to have on English departments and their faculty members.

Rivers, William E. ADE Bulletin (1985). Articles>Education>Business Communication>Technical Writing


Cut, Cut, Cut your Content and Procedures

Sure. We’ve been reducing word count in procedures for some time. It’s time to do more, however. As noted in an earlier post, we have to think mobile. Think small screens and small devices. Screen real estate will be at a premium.

Norris, Julie. 2moro Docs (2009). Articles>Documentation>Technical Writing>Minimalism


A Day in the Life of a Senior Technical Writer

Any technical experience helps, because once you have a little, it's easy to get more. For example, if you understand the basics of programming, it's easier to learn about additional languages. Once you know the basic terminology, it's easier to learn more and you have the words to ask the right questions. I've found that degrees are not required if you can perform, but a technical or writing degree is always welcomed.

Sereno, Lynda. Binary Girl (2000). Careers>TC>Writing>Technical Writing


Deadly Sins of Technical Writing   (PDF)

Some technical writers enter the field with strong writing backgrounds and moderate technical backgrounds. Others enter the field with strong technical backgrounds and moderate writing skills. This workshop is designed to help the latter group polish their writing skills.

Cox, Donna H. and Loretta F. Albert. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing


Deadwood Phrases

Deadwood phrases are found in all types of writing. In technical writing they are to be avoided at all costs as documentation needs to be crisp, concise and accurate.

Klariti. Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Minimalism


Dear Viv: Switching Careers

I worked as a technical writer many years ago and then quit to take care of my kids. Now I'd like to get back into the field. How do I get my foot in the door when all employers require experience?

Carolina Communique (2009). Careers>Writing>Advice>Technical Writing


The Death of Technical Writing, part 1

For a few years now, I’ve been worrying about the future of technical communication as a career. Not that user docs will disappear (as much as most people might want that), but techcomm as a unique job title, as opposed to one of many tasks that someone might have.

Kaplan, Neal. Customers and Content (2014). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing


The Death of the Technical Author?

Technical Authors do not have high prominence in the workplace, and they don't have the best of images (as can be seen by the movie 'The Technical Writer'). Today, there are a number of Technical Authors struggling to find new employment in the current IT sector, and one can find messages on Internet newsgroups questioning the future employment prospects for Technical Authors in North America and Europe. Some wonder whether the role of the Technical Author will disappear, like other careers have in the past. In this article we look at the problems faced by Technical Authors in defining their role, and make some recommendations for the future.

Birn, William. Cherryleaf (2003). Articles>Writing>Professionalism>Technical Writing


Debunking the Boredom Myth of Technical Writing

Several weeks ago I wrote about my trip to Brigham Young University-Idaho and the presentation I gave there titled “Debunking the Boredom Myth of Technical Writing.” This podcast is a recording of my presentation.

Johnson, Tom H. Tech Writer Voices (2008). Presentations>Writing>Technical Writing>Podcasts


Definition of Technical Writing: What Is It?

Technical writing is the act of documenting how to use products of all types. This definition of technical writing is broad because the field itself is vast. Those who work in the field are employed in a huge array of industries, including medical, automitive, software, training and consulting, and more.

HelpScribe (2009). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing


The Degentrification of User Assistance

My job right now as the UX architect on the project is to translate these high level requirements into scenarios and the starts of stories so that my Engineering cohorts can estimate the various features. So with apologies to my technical writer friends, I have embarked on creating a design that will make it easy for SMEs, who have insight about how to get value out of our portal and services, to pass that insight along. I want it to be easy for the SME to post, and easy for the user to get to it.

Hughes, Michael A. Humane Experience, The (2011). Articles>User Experience>Technical Writing>Help


Demand for Writers is High, 'Technically'

Today, the demand for technical writers in India is rapidly rising.

Times of India (2003). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>India


Designing and Writing to Reduce User Errors   (PDF)

A vast majority of documents (I consider print and online as documentation) often works to define the optimized error-free method of performing a task and provides a user with a straightforward solution. However, the user expects documentation to help solve problems and address errors. Thus, attention must be paid to potential problems users can have and how to correct them. Errors have different causes; the information designer should understand the potential types of errors since properly addressing each type requires a different approach in the design and documentation.

Albers, Michael J. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Documentation>Writing>Technical Writing


Designing and Writing to Reduce User Errors

A vast majority of documents (I consider print and online as documentation) often works to define the optimized error-free method of performing a task and provides a user with a straightforward solution. However, the user expects documentation to help solve problems and address errors. Thus, attention must be paid to potential problems users can have and how to correct them. Errors have different causes; the information designer should understand the potential types of errors since properly addressing each type requires a different approach in the design and documentation.

Albers, Michael J. WritersUA (2004). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Usability


Designing Websites

The parallels between the theories of technical communications and those of web design are very similar, the key aim is to keep the audience in mind at all times. The way you structure and present the information is also important, as is a sense of usability of the content itself.

McLean, Gordon. One Man Writes (2009). Articles>Web Design>Technical Writing>User Centered Design


Developing a Web-Based Tutorial in RoboHelp

The very first thing you should do in developing a tutorial is to be familiar enough with the subject matter that you can write the content.

School for Champions (2005). Articles>Documentation>Writing>Technical Writing


Developing Industrial Cases For Technical Writing on Campus   (peer-reviewed)

At the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, the World's Engineering Congress met and included special section, 'Division E, Engineering Education.' This division was the seed for The Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education, and one paper delivered in the section was 'Training of Students in Technical Literary Work,' evidencing early concern about engineers' education in technical writing. But concern alone did not solve the problem. Two decades later Edward D. Sabine, a terminal engineer, complained that most college graduated engineers could not even write a decent letter. And in the same year F. W. Springer, a professor of electrical engineering, spoke of the need for teaching 'engineering-English.' Fifty years ago Hale Sutherland, a professor of Civil Engineering, described how Case School of Applied Science had instituted a two-course, technical writing requirement to overcome 'the engineer's ancient weakness, his inability to speak and write effectively.' One approach to solving this problem has been cooperation. Seventy years ago C. W. Park wrote an article about the cooperative program at the University of Cincinnati, in which members of the Engineering and English Departments worked together to promote better writing; obviously the idea of teaming up is hardly new. Thirty years ago The Journal of Engineering Education published another description of a cooperative effort and just five years ago devoted an entire issue to technical writing. The need for teaching engineers to write and the difficulties in accomplishing the objective even cooperatively have been recognized for almost a century; we are still grappling with the problem.

Mair, David and John Radovich. JAC (1985). Articles>Education>Writing>Technical Writing


Developing Knowledge Base Articles

A short article that offers some tips on writing articles for a knowledge base, whether internal or client facing.

DMN Communications (2008). Articles>Documentation>Writing>Technical Writing


Dirty Battles in the Trench: Is It Wise to Use Real Materials for Editing in a Technical Writing Class?   (PDF)

The use of real materials in a technical writing class involves both advantages and drawbacks. Use of real materials makes the class relate well to the work environment, improves self-esteem, critical thinking, and student motivation. Drawbacks include the problem of finding materials, a lack of course continuity, a lessening of use of the class text, and legal implications. Overall, the use of real materials for classroom editing is recommended.

Stibravy, John A. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Education>Writing>Technical Writing


Discovering the Pedagogical Paradigm Shift in Technical Writing   (PDF)

For my dissertation, I am analyzing technical writing textbooks from the early 1900s to the present to determine whether technical writing pedagogy has undergone or is undergoing a paradigm shift. When I began this study, my hypothesis was that technical writing pedagogy, like composition and rhetoric pedagogy, has shifted from the product orientation to the process orientation. Textbooks that are product oriented emphasize the study of examples or models, and textbooks that are process oriented emphasize the study of the writing process. Now that I have completed my study and am in the process of analyzing the results, my hypothesis is that technical writing pedagogy shifted from a product orientation to a combined product and process orientation.

Jeansonne, Jerold. STC Proceedings (1995). Articles>Education>Writing>Technical Writing


Distributed or Centralized: How to Maintain Quality When They Keep Reorganizing Your Organization   (PDF)

Is there a 'best' way to organize technical publications? One central organization? Many small organizations per business unit? Communicators distributed through the development teams? Discuss the pros and cons of organizational structure and its relationship to quality.

Hackos, JoAnn T. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Writing>Quality>Technical Writing



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