Technical writing is typically used in scientific or technical fields such as engineering or IT. A technical writer specializes in developing, organizing, and editing specialized content. They may not necessarily have expert level knowledge in the subject matter, but their understanding of language and ideas and how to organize them allows them to transform content into documents that are publishable or suitable for distribution.
Technical writing is closely related to both copywriting and business writing, and in some cases the three overlap. The major differences are subject matter and intent. While these aspects may vary for other forms of writing, technical writing will almost always focus on simplifying highly technical, complex content.
Copywriting revolves around marketing. Often referred to as “sales in print”, its main purpose is to convince the reader to take some form of action. The desired action is usually to purchase a product, but it may also persuade them to visit a website or to support a cause. The text used in advertisements and promotional materials is written by copywriters.
Business writing refers to writing which companies use to communicate internally and externally. Its broad range can often cover aspects of technical writing and copywriting. Most people who work in office settings use some form of business writing, so there is no specialized role or title for those who use it. The expectations for business writing can also differ for the wide variety of writing which it encompasses.
There are four types of business writing:
Table 1 shows the main characteristics, usage, and importance of the three styles of writing.
Table 1: Key Differences between Writing Styles
A technical writer’s main focus is ensuring content is understandable and accurate. Although they are not often experts in the field they are writing in, a technical writer’s understanding of language helps them to ensure that the writing conveys its intended meaning.
Technical writers are experts in explaining complex topics and organizing ideas. They are constantly tasked with improving the quality of text that is both complicated and unfamiliar, so they are adept at learning new subjects quickly.
A technical writer can bring a new but experienced viewpoint to your work. They often work or have worked in multiple fields, so a fairly seasoned writer is likely to be somewhat familiar with your material.
Technical writers are extremely proficient in software used to generate and organize content such as Microsoft Word or Visio. They can even develop tools to make your future projects easier such as customized templates.
While someone who is skilled in business writing may have the grammatical capabilities to revise simple text, they may not possess the skills needed for revising a highly technical document.
A copywriter knows what wording might catch the consumers attention to generate more sales or website hits but may not be skilled at organizing large bodies of content for clarity or accuracy.
The best type of writer for the job will always depend on the job. Writing is involved in every aspect of business and choosing the right writer with the skillset for what you need is one of the most important decisions. If your focus is generating sales, a copywriter will be your best bet. If you are looking to communicate within your business, you can choose a good writer on your staff. But If you require quality content and optimal organization, a technical writer will get the job done.
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