Archive for the ‘ Technical Writing ’ Category

History of Technical Writing

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History of Technical Writing is an interesting fact for the writers to know. When this profession came into view, not much importance was given to it but consequently it emerged as the most important professions in almost all the Organizations worldwide.

Technical writing profession actually emerged in the early 1900s but it was recognized only after the Second World War.
During 1887, the higher level English was not included in the curriculum of various engineering schools. As a result, many engineering students were not trained to write. Engineering teachers were not giving much importance to English as they assumed that technical subjects are more important than English for engineering students. At that point of time, technical writing had a very low prestige, and if taught at all it was taught by very inexperienced faculty members.

Prior to the U.S. Civil War, a few books on the subject of technical writing were released in the early 1900s, but the crack between English and Engineering persisted and technical writing was not considered as a serious discipline.

Technical writing became a genuine profession during and after World War II; when the war-time technologies were translated into peacetime use. After the war, General Electric, General Motors, and Westinghouse developed technical writing units within their organizations.

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I and this was the world’s first artificial satellite. The size of Sputnik Satellite was about 183 pounds.

By 1957 various colleges and universities introduced technical writing courses and the engineering students required some form of technical writing training. The successful launch of Sputnik and the beginning of the US Space Program significantly enhanced the need of technical writers.

With the introduction of ISO 9000 during 1987, a series of quality system standards that depended upon high quality written communication was introduced and that was how the requirement for technical writers started increasing day by day.

Objective of Technical Writing

Technical writing covers design documentation, references, Installation guides, user manuals, help desk sheets, online or offline tutorials and, any content, which is technical in character. With the surfacing of increasingly different audiences, users and customers of technical documents, the roles of technical writers are being modified consequently. Therefore, technical writers must keep some key goals in mind to produce specific, convincing and concise technical materials.

With the dawn of the computing era and the abundance of electronics and Web-technologies, technical document is produced in various forms and formats. Understanding formats and the vital tools to produce content for a particular format is vital in Technical writing.

Gathering information accurately and work together with subject matter experts, product designers, developers, engineers, technical architects etc. is one of the key assets to developing the right kind of technical document in any form and format and for any platform. Any form of technical document has to communicate effectively with its end users, audiences and customers.

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What is Technical Writing?

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Technical writing is a method through which specific information is conveyed to an intended audience for a specific purpose.

Technical writing is a way of communication between the communicator and the audience. It simplifies complex technical language into instructions in the form of a simple language so that it is be useful to the end users to carry out their tasks properly. It is not necessary that documents created by technical writers should be useful only to people related to the technical field. Therefore, technical writers should make sure that their documents must be understandable to the people with respect to all the fields. Hence, technical writing should always be crisp, clear and simple.

The main objective of technical writing is to understand the goals and the mind set of target audience so that the information can be communicated easily.

Now days, Technical Writing has become very significant in almost all the fields. It is the medium through which the technical information on any subject can be exchanged from one person to another. Therefore, it is also referred as technical communication.

Technical Writing & its scope in India

Technical writing, in simple words, is a form of technical communication, where a unique style is used to relate technical ideas from a variety of different fields like computer software and hardware, finance, robotics, the aerospace industry, biotechnology. For example, this could mean telling a software programmer how to access a particular set of tools or as simple as guiding a consumer on the use of a house hold implement. In simple words, technical writing can be described as, “writing about complex technical information in a simple, clear and concise manner, which a target audience can understand”.

Technical writing has a long history, but it started becoming a discipline of its own from the early 20th century. This rise in importance can be mainly noticed with the advent of the World Wars, where a need for technical documentation was required in the fields of military, manufacturing and electronics.

The people, who design, create and maintain technical documentation, are known as technical writers. They possess skills in language, writing skills and solid research. A good technical writer may not be a subject matter expert (SME), but requires the expertise to interview SME’s, do additional research, understand the targeted audience, and create documentation that is accurate, complete, unambiguous and concise. The documentation can be produced in a variety of forms: printed, web-based or other electronic documentation, training materials, and industrial film scripts.

Technical documentation can be basically categorized into 3 categories:

1)      End User assistance (user manuals for cell phones, medical equipment, computer peripherals)

2)      Traditional technical documentation (research papers, maintenance guides)

3)      Marketing communications (catalogs, press releases, advertisements)

In India, technical writing is a growing industry, with more and more companies realizing the necessity for perfect documentation. As a developing country, with major international brands in computer software and other service based organizations, the demand for technical writers are at an all time high. With a highly qualified work force, both creative and knowledgeable in the advancements in technology, many MNC’s, both international and domestic, are opening up their literal doors to Indians. Companies like Cap Gemini, Bosch, Quest, etc are looking to Indians for a productive work force.

Aim:

“To change people, by changing the way they do things.”

Author: Student from Black & White Tech Writing Solutions (P) Ltd, Bangalore.