What is a Technical Author?

Technical and commercial writers (aka technical and commercial authors) use their technical skills and knowledge, or commercial experience, to prepare or amend documents that can be easily understood by users of products and services. Usually, writers or authors work for publications agencies, private companies, the armed services, Government departments (including local authorities) or manufacturers of complex equipment (such as computer systems, electric trains, commercial aircraft or nuclear submarines). The types of documents prepared or amended by the typical technical writer include:

• sales and promotional literature
• maintenance manuals and spares catalogues
• health and safety instructions
• in-house procedure manuals and guides
• on-line support for computer software
• installation, overhaul and disposal procedures
• technical reports
• quality assurance documents.

Technical writers are involved in creating or amending documents. However, before the writing element begins, a technical or commercial writer needs to determine the precise requirements, gather and analyse the relevant facts and present the information in a form that can be easily understood by the reader. And, he or she must ensure that any and all documents created meet the agreed style and format (or document specification).

In order to gather the required information and to resolve any technical or commercial queries, authors must also liaise with his or her own management, engineers, manufacturers, marketing people, product developers, printers and publishers, technical and commercial experts, graphic designers, artists and technical illustrators.

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