What are the responsibilities of a technical writer? Technical writers gather information from specific subject areas (e.g., computer science, engineering, manufacturing, the general sciences) and use excellent grammatical, punctuation and writing skills to produce written products for communication at various levels of difficulty or for different audiences.  For example, a technical writer may gather information on how to put together a complicated piece of equipment and write the information so that an individual with few technical skills can assemble or fix the product. Have any of you purchased an item that comes with a large packet of instructions with the wording “some assembly required?” If so, you know the difference between a good technical writer and a poor technical writer.

A talented technical writer can take a highly technical report about a subject area such as pollution control and toxicity levels and develop the information into an easily understood article for publication.

The skills required of technical writers needed to provide excellence include writing, editing, and subject area expertise so that the technical writer can communicate clearly within the subject area using common vocabulary and jargon.  This expertise includes also how the technical language is used in academic writing.

Talented technical writers are those who can adjust their writing to meet the different needs of audiences. For example, academic writing in technical areas require a fairly sophisticated understanding of the subject area because the audience will be professionals in the academic field.  To develop this expertise, the technical writer can study other peer-reviewed academic journals to gather the expertise or focus their college education in those subject areas.  Read, read, read is advice given to most new writers and editors.  Peer reviewed journals, for example, offer excellent examples in different fields and using different manual styles.

The most difficult task for the technical writer is taking this information and developing it into a manual or a news article, Website or blog that individuals without this high level of expertise can understand.

If you are starting to develop technical writing skills, use a professional editor with expertise in the technical area to review and provide their view of how you can improve your writing. FirstEditing.com is an example of a professional company that can provide this review of your writing projects. This company also has editors with a wide-range of experience so that you can request an editor with this specific background.  I recommend that you work with different editors who can help you improve your writing for publication by having them provide sample edits of your writing.  This is an excellent way to see if you are improving your writing and editing in the specified subject area.

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