Technical Writing: Difference with Other Writing Styles

Oct. 25, 2023
technical writing
Image by Meli Imelda

I've been on a writing journey for the past two years, dabbling in various forms in the written word. From blog articles to social media posts and even some adventures in poetry, I've explored it all. Among all these genres, the one that stands out as intriguing is technical writing.
As a network engineer, my undergraduate years were filled with projects that often resulted in the submission of reports. These reports provided a peek into the domain of technical writing. I recognized that it extends beyond mere formatting – it is a unique sphere of content and language.
Now, let's explore the primary disparities between technical writing and alternative writing styles.

1. Precision is Paramount

When it comes to technical writing, precision is king. In other writings, you enjoy the freedom of creative expression, where a little ambiguity or poetic licence can add charm to your prose. But in technical writing, there's no room for ambiguity or vagueness.

You're dealing with facts, procedures, and data. If you say a component should be "approximately 6 inches," you are setting the stage for confusion. How approximate is "approximately"? Technical documents demand clarity and precision; a component should be "exactly 6 inches," leaving no room for interpretation.

2. Audience-Centric Approach

In literature or blogging, you might craft your content with a focus on personal expression and style.

In contrast, technical writing places the audience at the forefront. It is about providing information to audiences with specific needs, be it an engineer configuring a router or a doctor reading a medical manual.

Understanding your audience and tailoring your content to meet their requirements is essential. It is not about your vocabulary; it's guiding the reader through instructions or technical concepts without confusion.

3. Terminology

While other writings tolerate vivid descriptions and creative wordplay, technical writing does not. It is very specific.

It's almost like speaking in a secret code that most experts in a field can understand. In the tech world, terms like "TCP/IP," "LAN," "BIOS," and "HTTP" are everyday vocabulary. Technical writers must use this language fluently, simplifying complex concepts for readers while ensuring that no critical details are lost in translation.

As a technical writer, your ability to concisely explain complex ideas is essential. Recognize the importance of accuracy, specialised language, and structured presentation.

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