What Is Technical Writing?
Technical writing is a form of writing in which the writer has to focus on translating technical jargon into words that a common user can understand. The major deliverables for a technical writer would be training manuals, case studies, articles, tutorials, etc.The huge growth in the information tehcnology, has given rise to a multitude of job opportunities for programmers, network engineers, graphics designers and SQA engineers. However, these are not the only areas of opportunities. Technical writing is a field that has been growing up as a shadow behind these fields. Money Magazine has also listed technical writing as the 13th most paying job.Not many people are aware of the opportunities and scope in this field and, hence, we see that most IT graduates focus on programming and networking. They do not even know what other options they have.
What you need
To be a race horse in the field of technical writing, one needs to have very good communication skills. A good technical writer should also have excellent technical skills so that s/he is able to translate the technical jargon into simpler terms for the common user.Apart from these basic skills, some universities also offer courses in technical writing. These courses - although very basic - provide the necessary knowledge to students as to what they need to do to become a technical writer.
Activities of technical writers
A technical writer's core activity is documentation. This documentation may involve planning documents, help documents, case studies, white papers and internal documentation, etc.
A technical writer is also a core part of the software lifecycle since every phase of the lifecycle requires proper documentation. For this purpose, a technical writer has to work in close contact with engineers, developers, managers, and sometimes even customers to ensure that the delivered product meets all requirements.
Technical writers prefer powerful documentation tools that have multiple output formats and are also easy to use at the same time. Examples of such tools are:
- ns20 Adobe Robohelp (previously Macromedia Robohelp)
- ns20 Adobe FrameMaker
- ns20 Author-It
- ns20 Madcap Flare.
These are the most commonly used tools for documentation. However, using MS-Word is also possible since most of the above listed tools have the capability to import MS-Word documents.