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Shahed Nasser
Shahed Nasser

Posted on • Originally published at blog.shahednasser.com on

Does Technical Writing Require Technical Knowledge?

Originally published on my personal blog.

Something I constantly see on Twitter is threads that list people's jobs in the technical fields that don't require a lot or any technical knowledge. Some of those threads include Technical Writing.

I'm a technical writer, I had been a freelance technical writer for almost a year and now I'm working full-time. In this article, I'll give you a bit of summary about what we do and whether or not you need technical knowledge for the job.

Documentation

Documentation generally is a huge part of your work as a technical writer. Most, if not all, companies hire a technical writer to write documentation about their software.

The reason I'm saying most and not all is that some companies hire technical writers exclusively for blog content, especially if that company works as a digital marketing or content provider for other software companies. I'll get to the blog posts later on.

There are two types of documentation: user documentation and developer documentation. Some companies need you to write both. Some companies need you to write one or the other, depending on the type of solution they provide.

Developer Documentation

Writing documentation for developers requires you to sift through code written by other people to understand many things such as how something is done, how something is actually implemented, or why something is done a certain way.

This deep dive into the code requires you to have some knowledge of programming, especially in the language you're working with. The level of that knowledge depends on the type of software you're working on.

You can also rely on the technical team by asking them questions if anything is unclear or you need to confirm some details.

Working with documentation also requires you to actually build with the software at times to be able to explain the process, including code snippets, and test things out yourself.

User Documentation

Writing documentation might require less technical knowledge than that required for writing for developers. When you write documentation for users, it's often done in a way to simplify how to use a process. Users don't necessarily care about the code or how it's implemented.

Articles and Blogs

Another aspect of being a technical writer is writing articles. There are many types of articles you can work on, and again it depends on what type of company you're in.

One type is tutorial articles. You have to guide developers on how they can do something using the software. Those obviously require technical knowledge as you'll be building the solution yourself while writing about it.

Another type is general articles that might explain topics and concepts related to the product your company provides or programming in general. Although those might not have code snippets in them or might not require you to build anything throughout the article, they require a deep understanding of the topic at hand.

As it is a technical topic, you should have some technical knowledge to be able to write about it correctly.

Conclusion

Technical Writing jobs can vary from one company to another, but generally speaking, the technical part is a prominent part of it. If you're interested in technical writing, make sure you also develop your technical knowledge and skills as well.

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