Technical writing and content writing are two distinct fields but most often people confuse them to be the same. Although they require strong communication skills, they serve different purposes and audiences. In this article, I explore 10 key differences between content writing and technical writing, with an aim to help specifically aspiring technical authors understand the nuances of technical writing in mind.
By understanding these differences and focusing on specific skills, aspiring technical authors can accelerate their technical writing journey successfully and become experts in just 1 week.
This article addresses the following queries:
- What is the difference between content and technical writing?
- Can a technical writer be a content writer?
- Is technical writing a form of content writing?
- What is technical writing in content writing?
- Technical Writing Versus Content Writing
- Content Writer Versus Technical Writer
1 Purpose: When You Should Create a Content Copy and When Technical Documentation
Content Writing: Content writing aims to entertain, inform, or persuade readers. It often focuses on engaging and retaining the audience’s interest, often involving storytelling and emotion-based appeals.
Technical Writing: Technical writing, on the other hand, is primarily informational and instructional. It focuses on conveying complex information in a clear, concise, and precise manner, with the goal of educating readers about a specific topic or guiding them in performing a task.
Tips for Aspiring Technical Writers: To excel in technical writing, aspiring authors should prioritize clarity and precision over creativity. Understand the purpose of your document and ensure that your writing serves that purpose effectively.
2 Audience: Know Your Audience like the Back of Your Hand
Content Writing: Content writers often target a broad and diverse audience. Their content can be aimed at anyone who finds it interesting or valuable.
Technical Writing: Technical writers typically write for a specific audience, often professionals in a particular field or users of a specific product. Their audience expects detailed and accurate information.
Tips for Aspiring Technical Writers: Technical writers should have a deep understanding of their target audience’s knowledge and needs. Tailor your writing to provide information that is accessible and useful to the intended readers.
3 Style and Tone: Fine tune Your Style and Tone
Content Writing: Content writers have more flexibility in choosing their style and tone. They can adopt a conversational, formal, or even humorous approach, depending on the subject and target audience.
Technical Writing: Technical writing demands a consistent, formal tone. Clarity, accuracy, and objectivity are essential, and the focus is on delivering factual information.
Tips for Aspiring Technical Writers: Learn to adapt your writing style and tone to the requirements of technical documentation. Consistency is key to ensure that your technical documents are clear and professional.
4 Subject Matter: Become a Subject Matter Expert
Content Writing: Content writers can cover a wide range of topics, from travel and lifestyle to personal development and opinion pieces. Their subjects are often chosen for their general interest.
Technical Writing: Technical writers focus on specialized subjects, such as software manuals, engineering documents, or scientific reports. They require in-depth knowledge of the subject matter.
Tips for Aspiring Technical Writers: If you’re aspiring to become a technical writer, start by building expertise in a specific field or industry. In-depth knowledge is crucial for producing accurate and valuable technical documents.
5 Research: Engage Yourself in Research to Know Your Topics
Content Writing: Content writers may require research, but it’s often limited to gathering general information and sources for reference.
Technical Writing: Technical writers rely heavily on research, often involving subject matter experts, engineers, or extensive documentation to ensure the accuracy of the information.
Tips for Aspiring Technical Writers: Develop strong research skills to gather and verify technical information. Building a network of subject matter experts can be invaluable in your technical writing career.
6 Formatting: Fix the Formatting of Your Writing
Content Writing: Content writers primarily focus on creating visually appealing content, which may include images, videos, and interactive elements to engage the audience.
Technical Writing: Technical documents often have a standard format, including headings, subheadings, lists, tables, and diagrams to enhance clarity and facilitate reference.
Tips for Aspiring Technical Writers: Familiarize yourself with standard technical document formats, such as the use of headings and lists. Proficiency in document formatting tools like Microsoft Word, PPT, authoring tools such as Adobe FrameMaker, Adobe RoboHelp, MAdCap Flare can be a valuable skill.
7 Review and Editing: Create a Review and Editing Workflow
Content Writing: Content writers often rely on self-editing or the services of general editors to polish their work.
Technical Writing: Technical documents undergo extensive peer reviews and subject matter expert scrutiny to ensure accuracy and clarity.
Tips for Aspiring Technical Writers: Embrace a rigorous review process for your technical documents. Seek feedback from experts and colleagues to refine your work and eliminate errors.
8 Terminology: Know Your Words Better to be Direct and Concise
Content Writing: Content writers use everyday language and may employ metaphors and similes to make content relatable.
Technical Writing: Technical writers use specialized terminology relevant to their subject, ensuring precision and clarity.
Tips for Aspiring Technical Writers: Master the jargon and terminology of your chosen field. It’s essential to communicate effectively with professionals and convey complex ideas accurately.
9 Document Structure: Learn the Skills of Document Structure
Content Writing: Content writers have creative freedom in structuring their content, allowing for a more fluid and narrative approach.
Technical Writing: Technical documents often follow a structured and linear approach, providing step-by-step instructions or presenting information logically.
Tips for Aspiring Technical Writers: Practice creating structured, logically organized documents. Developing the skill of crafting clear and intuitive document structures is essential for technical writing.
10 Purposeful Graphics: Play with Graphics Carefully, Neither Less nor More
Content Writing: Graphics and visuals in content writing are often used for aesthetics and engagement.
Technical Writing: Graphics in technical writing are purposeful and serve to clarify complex information, such as flowcharts, diagrams, and technical illustrations.
Tips for Aspiring Technical Writers: Learn to create effective visuals that enhance the understanding of technical content. Graphics should complement the text and make it more accessible.
Becoming an expert in technical writing is an achievable goal with dedication and practice. Understanding the key differences between content writing and technical writing is the first step towards success. By prioritizing clarity, mastering subject matter, and developing technical communication skills, aspiring technical authors can accelerate their journey and become proficient technical writers in just one week.
Remember that practice is essential, and continuous improvement is the key to mastering the art of technical writing. Embrace feedback, refine your skills, and keep learning about your chosen field to produce high-quality technical documents that educate and inform effectively.
- Technical Writing: How to Write Software Documentation:
- How To Write & Present Technical Information
- Writing Plain Instructions: How to Write User Manuals, Online Help, and Other Forms of User Assistance That Every User Understands:
- API Documentation: What is it? How to Write it: A Comprehensive Guide to Writing Effective and Accessible API Documentation