by Priti Ramjee
Technical writing is present in every workplace. It’s used in the instructions for how to operate your new presentation equipment, your office policies and procedures, a proposal for your next potential client and any other document in which you translate specialized information into one that a reader can understand. Whether you are trying to develop a manual for your new business or write a proposal to obtain a grant, technical writing is a necessity.
The emergence of technical writing as an important tool began with the boom of science and engineering, followed by a rise of military technologies during World War II and the Cold War era. More recently, the computer boom of the late-twentieth century necessitated people who could communicate and write about digital matters. As we have moved from the industrial age to the information age, and as work and day-to-day lives rely ever more heavily on technology, the need for transforming complex systems into simple processes underscores the importance of technical writing.
The explosion of technology stimulated the importance of technical writing in the workplace. With the increase of computer professions comes the need to communicate technologies of both hardware and software. Projects need technical writers to effectively communicate the design of a system, its detailed specifications and the user’s instructions. A technical writer translates and formats details that computer professionals wish to communicate into simple written language for internal staff and potential clients.
As workplaces grapple with tighter budgets, an employee with technical writing skills helps managers save money. In addition to writing, some technical writers can program, develop websites, train and provide other technical services. They have the ability to apply problem-solving skills to simplify processes, communicate effectively and meet deadlines. A technical writer is important to a workplace as an experienced multitasker trained and possibly certified in more than one area.
While computers have simplified tasks in the workplace, in some cases they have also resulted in a workforce that lacks writing skills. In the workplace, technical research must be understandable to the public, investors and even governments for opportunities to receive a grant. Funders, investors and grant providers do not accept the slang and abbreviations used in emails in considering proposals for fund allocation; rather, they expect qualified applicants who have the ability to express themselves clearly and convince others of the benefits of their projects.