What Does a Technical Document Writer Do?

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers
Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

Companies that produce software and various types of technology often employ at least one technical document writer. This employee is in charge of technical communication, which often requires turning complicated processes and facts into written content that is easy for the average reader to understand. This means the writer typically should start by researching the product or service to be described, which may require him to communicate with those in charge of manufacturing it. After obtaining a good understanding of the item, the technical document writer may need to compose content for instruction manuals, press releases and other publications. The final duty typically is adding supplemental material, such as photos, and then editing the document before publication.

In most cases, one of the first duties that a technical document writer should fulfill prior to writing is research. Many companies require technical writers to take a close look at the product or service about which they are writing, because this should enable them to clearly explain the main idea to readers. Writers of this type also often have to communicate with other professionals, such as scientists and engineers, to further understand what is being documented. They also may have to read journals or manuals to ensure that they are aware of the background of the product or service about which they are writing.

Once a technical document writer has a clear understanding of the subject, the next step is to start writing. Technical writers may compose manuals on how to put together, install or use products. They also may write articles for industry publications, such as newsletters and journals, to reach out to their employer's audience. The typical technical document writer also might put together fact sheets, press releases and online help pages, because these types of materials all require both technical knowledge and an ability to communicate in a way that allows the average person to understand the subject.

After technical documents are written, they usually have to be properly formatted and edited, which can be done by the technical document writer. For example, many publications require photographs, charts and references that allow readers to find more information. Writers usually work with co-workers, such as graphic designers, to determine the best photos and charts to include, as well as how they should be arranged on the page. They also usually have to check the facts and copy edit before the document can be published, though they might have the help of a fact-checker or editor, depending on the company.

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