What are the Characteristics of Effective Technical Writing

What are the Characteristics of Effective Technical Writing

“Effective technical writing” is very significant aspect in modern day world, as it helps the researcher to disseminate knowledge. Also, it may help in taking decision.

This is also important in the field of HR. This is because they deal with such documents for multi-faceted aspects related to their organization.


Let us first understand what do we mean by technical writing.

Wikipedia defines the technical writing as a writing or drafting technical communication used in technical and occupational fields. These fields may be computer hardware and software, engineering, chemistry, aeronautics, robotics, metallurgy, and biotechnology. Wikipedia includes finance, medical, consumer electronics and forestry also in this category.

In modern day, technical writing encompasses all documents of complex technical processes. These may be

  • Reports
  • Executive summary
  • Briefs
  • Brochures
  • Research papers

We should remember that any information conveyed in any way in technical field is technical writing. Technical writing may also include the following –

  • Manuals
  • Medical Studies
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Technical Reports
  • Technical Plans
  • Thesis

Difference between technical and creative writing

Before we elucidate the characteristics of effective technical writing, let us understand how technical writing is different from other forms of writing like creative writing, business writing and or fiction writing.

Technical writing is done in a scientific style. It is characterized by simple statement of truths, which don’t change with time. However, creative writing may not be based on truth.

We should bear it in mind that scientific writing of different researchers are much more similar in style than the poems written by different poets. However, technical authors may have individuality as well as their writing habits.

Another difference between technical and creative writing is that the former is used to convey a set of information, related to a specific technical field.

We do it in a formal manner based on technical facts. Creative novels or poems or stories may be based on imagination and emotions of the writer. These may not be necessarily true.

There is no place of emotions in technical writing. Creative writing is mainly for entertaining. When we read novels or stories, we simply enjoy them.

On the other hand, technical writing is done with a view to convey information, so that an action is initiated by the reader. They may get a new direction in their on-going research work, also by this.

Commercially, they may decide to purchase the new idea or product, based on technical writing.

Further, technical writing is always objective, while the creative writing is subjective.

What questions should be asked before writing effective technical report

Effective technical writing
Photographer: bruce mars | Source: Unsplash

Are you preparing a written presentation in the form of a report / paper or brochure. In that case, you should ask 3 questions to yourself, as given below. A clear cut, answer to these questions will determine how the technical report will be written.

  • Why am I going to write? (purpose)
  • For whom am I going to write? (audience)
  • What am I going to write? (content)

The purposes of technical writing is to inform, persuade, help in taking decision and disseminate information for advancement of knowledge in a research field. If the advancement of knowledge is the prime purpose, a research paper should be written. Researchers may write Ph.D Thesis”,
after intense literature review and the investigation,analysis and or experiments done by them.
Similarly, a brochure may be written to publicize a product. Feasibility studies may be written to ascertain if a technical plan is implementable.

The second most important aspect in technical writing is the audience for whom you are preparing a technical report. The audience may be a specific person, or group of people or an organization. It is commonly believed that the audience is intelligent, but don’t know much about the topic. Hence, the technical writing must take into cognizance, their concerns, background and attitude.

The answer to the third question, “ what am I going to write?” will decide the content. The content should always be written keeping in view the purpose and audience.

Characteristics of an effective technical writing

Effective technical writing must have the following distinct characteristics.

1. Clear and capable of being understood easily

The writer should say exactly what he means, and should say this so clearly that they may not be misunderstood.

A technical report must be clearly understandable by the expected readers or audience. The use of adequate vocabulary, along with prevalent technical terms of the field should be used. An appropriate syntax and style of writing may help in increasing the clarity.

2.Well organized and structured

The technical report must be well organized and structured. If the author is not able to organize his material properly and in logical sequence, it may lead to total confusion and lack of clarity.

3.Use of prevalent technical terms in the field

Technical terms which are being used in the field should be preferred to be used in technical writing

If the technical report is intended for readers not acquainted with the specialized words, then the technical terms should be explained in a foot note.

The writer should never assume that the audience knows everything.

4.Use of an appropriate language

The language of the technical report should be direct and straight to the point.

The difficult word, cliches or jargon must be avoided. Grammar, punctuation and syntax should be proper, and adequately taken care.

The perfect example of a technical report is a text book. All the relevant information up to a particular level is provided in text books. A text book intended for graduate level may be entirely different from the one, designed for research purposes. A research purpose book may contain the total review of scientific work done in that field. Such advanced-knowledge text books may help in exploring the new frontiers of technology.

However, If the technical writing is for a brochure to promote a product, it should be brief and precise. At the same time, it must not miss necessary information. In such cases precision and brevity are important.

5.Action oriented

The basic purposes of the effective technical writing is to convey what are the net findings of the investigation or research or analysis carried out in the present case. Also, how these net findings were arrived at and how to use them.

6.True and based on actual facts

Technical writing must always be based on truth and truth alone. Whatever be the situation,a technical report should never resort to the falsehood .

7. It must serve the purpose for which it is written

Effective technical report must serve the interest or purpose of the audience, for whom it is written.

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