What Is the Importance of Technical Writing?
The importance of technical writing can be seen in a variety of applications, both in consumer products as well as the industrial environment. Without clear, precise writing that outlines the specifications and directions for use, products can become meaningless at best and dangerous at worst. Technical writing provides a context to products and processes, and allows them to be used safely and as intended. While it may not be impossible to construct and use equipment and processes without reading the technical documents, technical writing provides some assurances that the product is being used as intended.
In the industrial field, the importance of technical writing can be seen in a number of different applications, which includes in the pitching of new products or ideas. Not only is it important to be able to write technical documents clearly for investors and management, if introducing a new product or piece of equipment, it is a requirement if the company or individual is to apply for a patent. Technical writing must clearly demonstrate the purpose of the machine or product, as well as specifications such as its dimensions, individual parts, and power source, if applicable.
In addition to the unveiling of new products, the importance of technical writing is also seen in the use of more traditional products and processes. While trainers may help employees learn various pieces of equipment in an industrial setting, technical manuals can help when unusual situations occur, or serve as a comprehensive reference in other situations. This information is readily available, even if someone with more expertise or experience is not. Technical writing documents can reduce downtime or help to prevent it altogether.
For end users, or home consumers, the importance of technical writing can be seen in the documents that come with various products. For example, putting together a bicycle, pieces of furniture, or installing appliances may take some level of expertise without proper directions; this might even result in irreparably damaging the product. Technical writing helps by explaining the process in detail in simple steps, and provides an easy-to-understand list of tools and alternatives. The documents also provide safety information related to the product.
Technical writing can help individuals save time and money, while at the same same time stimulating the economy. Without good technical writing, individuals and businesses could be discouraged from investing in new products and processes. Patents may not be granted because of undocumented similarities to other known products. Thus, the importance of technical writing is not only seen in the money it helps to generate, but also by the convenience and safety it creates for readers.
@Iluviaporos - I've known a few technical writers and it's actually a fairly good way to make a living. If you get the right job it can pay quite a lot with easy hours and the work is fairly interesting.
It's not something that has ever interested me, but I'm not all that good with grammar and putting together instructions and you definitely have to know how to do that.
@browncoat - In some cases it wasn't actually a person and I think that's probably true of a lot of really bad technical writing. First, you have the cases where instructions or some other kind of technical writing are translated with bad translation software (or any kind really, since I'm not sure there are good kinds of translation software).
And then you have those books that seem to be filling the internet that are made by people creating a computer algorithm to search the internet for a particular subject and then put it together into a text. Since they will cull sections from large articles, the words are often disjointed and don't make sense in a paragraph.
I've heard people complain about how expensive a professional technical writer can be, but there's a reason for that. It's actually quite hard work and it takes a skilled person to do it.
Technical writing is one of those things that is never noticed unless it is done badly. We've all seen and made fun of directions or an article that was very badly written, but if something is well written the intention is that you don't see the author's presence at all.
It's only when something is badly done that you get jolted out of the experience of reading and become aware of the fact that a person actually wrote this.
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