We're actually talking about three different categories: End-user documentation, traditional technical writing, and technological marketing communications:
- End-user documentation is used for electronics and other consumer products. The goal of end-user documentation is to help a novice understand how to use technical items. User manuals for computer hardware, software, televisions, cellular phones, and other consumer electronics are examples of end-user documentation. Patient information booklets and product inserts for in-home medical devices, such as a pregnancy test or diabetic glucometer, are also end-user documentation.
The writer must learn how to use a product. The writer then accurately explains the product through end-user documentation. The writer must anticipate questions and problems that the user might have and then present solutions. The end-user documentation writer does not need to be a technical expert.
- Traditional technical writing is material produced for a mostly technical audience. Examples of this category include appliance repair manuals, programmer guides, medical research papers, engineering specifications, and white papers. (White papers are authoritative guides written for a business or political audience.) Most traditional technical writers must have a technical background appropriate for the document. For example, a traditional technical writer might also be a licensed building code inspector, computer programmer, pharmacist, engineer, or Chartered Accountant. The writer's professional designation adds credibility to the publication and may be a legal requirement.
- Technological marketing communications, called Marcom, are tied to advertising, product promotion, and marketing. Examples of Marcom include promotional brochures, press releases, advertisements, and catalogs. Marcom was traditionally a print medium but has mostly evolved into CD-ROM and Web copy.
In addition to the three main categories, technical writing is also used for specialized projects, such as IRS documents or government grant proposals. It is used by technology companies, banks, governments, educational institutions, medical establishments, and many private companies.
Technical Writing - Main
Last Updated: 07/29/2014