WHAT DOES A TECHNICAL WRITER DO?
TECHNICAL WRITERS compose communication from product developers for users of the products. Users include consumers as well as scientists, engineers, plant executives, line workers, and production managers. Writers must write in a concise and easy-to-read manner for consumer publications or in highly specialized language for experts. With the increased use of desktop publishing, Technical Writers increasingly are responsible for the publication process including graphics, layout, and document design.
Technical Writers create product instructions, reference and maintenance manuals, articles, project proposals, training materials, technical reports, catalogs, brochures, online documentation and help systems, Web pages, multimedia presentations, parts lists, assembly instructions, and sales promotion materials.
Technical Writers perform the following tasks:
- Analyze the needs of the target audience.
- Study data and conduct in-depth interviews with subject matter experts to understand the product or procedure.
- Index and cross-reference documents such as bulletins and manuals.
- Produce or arrange for illustrations, charts, and photographs to be included in publications.
- Edit, standardize, or revise material prepared by other writers or personnel.
- Prepare layout of material for publication.
- Prepare rough drafts of the publication for review with the project staff and/or customers.
- Create and edit Web pages for the Internet, intranets, and extranets.
Technical Writers often specialize in a specific industry such as agriculture, health care, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, computers, or manufacturing. Within their chosen industry, many Technical Writers will specialize further. For example, Technical Writers in the computer industry might specialize in software documentation, tutorials, or user manuals.
Technical Writer is the most commonly used job title for this occupation. Other titles used include Medical Writer, Communications Specialist, Policy and Procedure Writer, Proposal Writer, Publications Specialist, Science Writer, Documentation Specialist, Health Writer, Information Developer, Technical Editor, Web Editor, and Information Designer. Some titles indicate the particular industry in which the occupation is found.
Technical Writers obtain and present specialized information within strict accuracy and format requirements. Technical writing requires the ability to concentrate for long periods of time and strong organizational skills. Technical Writers use the following skills, knowledge, and abilities to accomplish their daily tasks:
- Writing – Communicating effectively with others in writing as indicated by the needs of the audience.
- Active Listening – Listening to what other people are saying and asking questions as appropriate.
- Speaking – Talking to others to effectively convey information.
- Information Gathering – Knowing how to find information and identifying essential information.
- Information Organization – Finding ways to structure or classify multiple pieces of information.
- Synthesis/Reorganization – Reorganizing information to get a better approach to problems or tasks.
- Active Learning – Working with new material or information to grasp its implications.
- Product Inspection – Inspecting and evaluating the quality of products.
- English Language – Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Technical Writers usually work at a desk in an office. During planning and production of publications, Writers may be required to travel to another location to discuss a project with others. Technical Writers use personal computers and word processing or desktop publishing software for text, graphic, and multimedia production. Workers often have deadlines to meet. Technical Writers who work under contract or freelance may work from their home or at the employer’s site. Writers may work alone or together under the supervision of a publication chief or editor, a product or procedure specialist, or a marketing manager. Courtesy Employment Development Department, California Occupational Guides.
Related resources :
stc.org – the Society for Technical Communication has the resources you need to help you do your job better.. Offers technical writing jobs search & resources
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