technical writing

A Complete Guide to Technical Writing and How to Become a Technical Writer

by Ogechi Anyanwu

It is acceptable to be a little expressive or spicy when writing. Still, you should consider that your audience might be in an urgent situation and need to solve a pressing problem. They’d appreciate a “hit the nail on the head” kind of article.

It’s even more critical when your introduction doesn’t say much, and just maybe you had all the solutions to the problem down below, but you lost the reader at the beginning; certainly not any writer’s wish!

Consider the following scenario: A new Nigerian mother searches “How to set up a baby crawler” after purchasing one and clicks on the lucky article with the headline, “Everything you need to know about setting up your baby walker.” Then, as she quickly spans through, she sees, “Every woman has a chance of motherhood someday, and it is good that aspiring mothers take note of this,” or the writer begins to explain how baby walkers came to be. Woah! 

That woman must have heard that every woman has a shot at motherhood; she is already aware since she is already one. In her arms, she has a baby that won’t stop crying, and as a Nigerian mom, she has to rush back to the cooking and do the dishes, and all she urgently needs to know are the guidelines for setting up a baby crawler to stop her baby from crying.

So, what is technical writing all about? Let’s get into it.

What is Technical Writing?

Technical writing entails breaking down complex information and giving direct and clear explanations to a specific audience. This information can include manuals, how-to guidelines, reports, and, as previously mentioned, instructions. It is more “technical,” just as the name implies; it is not story-telling.

It is assumed only to be used in engineering, software development, science, finance, medicine, or technology developments. However, technical writing could be applied across various sectors and aspects of life. 

For example, an English instructor could wish to know “how to mark an essay” and would require a guideline and the criteria to look out for when marking an essay. Technical writing style varies according to sector and audience, but it emphasizes clarity, correctness, and precision.

There are several forms of writing, such as creative writing, narrative, descriptive, etc. Thus, we should value them all because they do have different purposes. But, when it comes to being specific or providing guidelines, instructions, and directions, technical writing is meant to serve that purpose. 

The Goal of Technical Writing

The purpose of technical writing is to present details that are first reliable, then accurate, exact, and brief so that the intended audience can clearly comprehend the information and descriptions being written down. 

The primary goal of technical writing is to simplify complex subject matters for readers. 

As a technical writer, you assume the reader has little or no idea about the subject matter, and you are determined to break it down in ways that they can comprehend and use. 

Who is a Technical Writer?

Technical writers, also known as technical communicators, produce detailed information, clear instructions, handbooks, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting content with examples to help people clearly understand complicated and technical knowledge and enable them to apply the guidelines in the given situation.

Let’s say technical writers are also translators since they aim to convey messages simply and employ visual illustrations to help convey their points.

They ensure that challenging technical details and instructions on the subject matter are easily accessible to the intended audience. Technical writers have the ability to quickly gain knowledge on a subject and create content that is understandable to a wide range of readers.

Nigerian technical writers are mostly remote writers because they have equipped themselves with knowledge across various industries at home and abroad and can provide accurate information on their subject matters. A significant role of technical writers is frequently bringing multiple stakeholders together on a project.

They typically work closely with several subject matter professionals to ensure that the materials that go public are correct and current. Every technical writer must stay updated on subject matter information, conduct research, and develop details from numerous sources to guarantee that their documents are accurate and effective.

Technical Writing Examples

A technical writer might stick to developing information on tech, business, finance, health care, science, or any other particular aspect of a specific industry or choose to work remotely, where they could create technical write-ups for various sectors. 

As mentioned above, a technical writer must quickly understand whatever project they are working on and the different types of technical writing involved. We have put together some prominent examples of technical writing.

  1. User manuals/instructions

These are step-by-step directions and other visuals that are put together to assist users in understanding how to use a product or service. 

  1. Proposals

Proposals are written to provide precise information on projects or activities for positive action. It is commonly required when applying for grants or partnerships.

  1. Learning design guides

These are e-learning courses, classroom materials, or job aids prepared by instructional designers and reformed by technical writers for easy learning in a virtual environment.

  1. Business plans and objectives 

Financial institutions require a comprehensive business plan before providing loans to new or established enterprises. These documents involve substantial technical research and a thorough understanding of a company’s finances and activities.

  1. Technical reports

This document is designed to deliver research findings or other technical information to a specified audience. Data, graphs, and other forms of visualisation are frequently used to help explain the information.

Characteristics of Technical Writing

Unlike other styles of writing that involve storytelling or creative writing, technical writing is set out to solve a problem or help the intended user out of a given situation. Creativity should be applied to technical writing, but it all comes down to accuracy and precision. Here are some ideas to keep in mind as a technical writer.

  1. It is written to a target audience

A professional technical writer would understand just what his reader is looking for, and he knows the best ways to captivate them. It could be through phrases, slang, or terms that give them the feeling of “I am talking to you.”

  1. Precise and concise

Technical subject matter audience has a specific detail they are searching for, so you need to be very direct and brief to describe procedures precisely.

  1. Problem-solving

The primary goal of technical writing is to solve problems; each piece of information is written to provide solutions for the readers. These texts are used by readers to learn how to carry out specific tasks with a better approach or to obtain technical information. 

  1. Clear

The goal is for your target audience to appreciate what you have put down after it must have benefited them. Technical writing involves conveying information in a straightforward manner.

  1. Elaborate

Don’t mix it up; elaborate doesn’t mean very long; it means comprehensiveness. Your document shouldn’t leave your reader confused. Technical writing is highly detailed and informative. Keep in mind that you can be elaborate but still concise.

  1. Skimmability

Skimmability content is for an audience that does not have the luxury of time. Your readers should be able to scan the entire text and obtain the required information. 

Headings and a detailed table of contents and outlines are good ways to accomplish this. They could also guide you while you write because outlines help you research better.

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How to Become a Technical Writer

Technical writers are sought after these days. Naturally, every area of life needs a guideline or a detailed explanation. Did you know that technical writers can earn up to $74,650 annually? This is coming from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This is a style of writing to consider, and we will be sharing with you ways you could become one and remain a master in the field.

  1. Earn your bachelor’s degree

 It is good to spend four-five years acquiring in-depth knowledge in communications, journalism, content writing, and the likes. But to be a professional technical writer, be assured that it is a skill you can still acquire with passion and constant practice within a short period. You could spark your love for it, take a short course online, or have a mentor train you but ensure you continuously practicalize your learning.

  1. Get certified

Studying online is one of the fastest ways to get certified. Certifications are not just “hard papers.” They are proof of learning and skills acquired. They might not be a significant determinant to land a gig because action tells better. Still, for some employers, certifications assure them that you are interested in personal development for perfection.

  1. Be disciplined with clear and concise writing

This is very important because there are many aspects of technical subject matter. It might seem impossible to exhaust all in one piece. Still, you could train yourself to community complex knowledge into simple but detailed information for your specific audience.

  1. Discover your niche

Technical writing is classified as a writing style, but it has numerous branches. You could focus on a field you are more passionate about with enough experience to help you deliver better, such as tech, health, science, research, and so on, but notwithstanding, you could decide to build a niche outside what you are not used to.

It all depends on what challenges and sparks your interest while at it. When you discover your niche, it helps you to keep an organized portfolio. 

Another critical thing to apply is that you should seek to build a niche outside the normal. Remember, there are thousands of great technical writers in Nigeria.

Read also: The best blogging niches for Nigerian writers. 

  1. Become a multifaceted professional

You might have found your niche, but you could step out of the box often. To be a successful technical writer, you must know various topics, including recent technology, software programs, technical products, etc. The ability to keep up with trends and easily grasp details, irrespective of the field, is essential. 

  1. Learn technical skills

Have you thought about learning a technical skill? There’s this belief that “tech guys think smartly.” Nigeria is rapidly embracing tech in every aspect of life. Having technical knowledge broadens your mind, and when you write, you are not limited to just what you have heard or researched but what you have experienced, which helps you pass down information better.

You can get started by joining the Insight Writers Community. There, we provide writers with opportunities and resources to aid their growth.

Skills Required to Become a Technical Writer

Technical writing requires so much technicality and smartness. There are a lot of technical writers in Nigeria, but you need to apply every nook and cranny to help you stand out. Below are the necessary skills required for a technical writer.

  1. Communication skill 
  2. Creative Thinking
  3. Research skills
  4. Writing skills
  5. Proofreading Skills
  6. Technical skills:
  7. Design skills/Visualization
  8.  Team Work
  9.  Flexibility

Read also: How to become a successful Ghostwriter. The 10 crucial ghostwriter skills. 

In Summary

The demand for technical writers has increased as technology development, engineering, the healthcare industry, and even social media marketing continue to develop in Nigeria. With this growth, the demand for candidates with strong technical skills is also increasing. 

All you have to do is develop and hone your technical writing talents, learn a digital skill, and then put yourself out there. In little or no time, you will have big gigs coming your way.

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About Author

Avatar of Ogechi Anyanwu
Ogechi Anyanwu
Hi. My name is Ogechi. I am a digital content writer who is passionate about making discoveries in tech and lifestyle and presenting them in words and in an exciting manner for my readers to have that ‘divine imaginative experience’.

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