GUIDE 2024

5 Types of Technical Writing

From detail-oriented technical reports to extensively researched white papers, the examples of technical writing span dozens of industries and operations. 

Additionally, this genre of content is so commonplace that we all come across several types of technical documents at every step of our life and career.

It’s an expansive field, filled with countless niches of its own. However, for the sake of clarity, here are the 5 most prevalent types of technical writing that you can adopt as a career. If you’re interested in learning via video, then watch below. Otherwise, skip ahead.

Five Types of Technical Writing in 2024 

From detail-oriented technical reports to extensively researched white papers, examples of technical writing span dozens of industries and operations. 

Additionally, this genre of content is so commonplace that we all come across several types of technical documents at every step of our life and career. 

It’s an expansive field filled with countless niches of its own. However, for the sake of clarity, here are the five most prevalent forms of technical writing that you can adopt as a career. 

Medical and Scientific Papers

Academic paper

Technical writing within the medical and science realm comes under the traditional technical writing umbrella. 

This was the first example of taking technical information and modifying it to make it understandable for a specific audience. 

Researchers use this academic to interpret their findings, organize and condense them into engaging content, and publish it in various journals, newsletters, and online platforms. 

The skill requirements for medico-scientific papers include:

  • Exceptional attention to detail, especially when breaking down high-value experiments and findings
  • A high level of accuracy when inserting names, dates, citations, etc.
  • Effective organizational skills, especially when taking all the raw data and organizing it into a user-friendly content form
  • A flair for authority and credibility that lends itself very well to academics in general

User Manuals and Assistance Guides

User manual

User guides are a common form of technical writing that even non-technical professionals encounter. 

This type looks to answer specific usage-related questions for consumer products and improve the end-user experience for everyone.

 User help guides mean breaking down the product into its constituent parts, explaining how each part functions, and answering questions about each piece’s solutions. Furthermore, it involves answering queries as consumers use the product for an extended period. 

If you’re interested in technical writing for user guides and other technical documentation, check out our Technical Writing Certification Course.

Technical Writing Certifications

Common skill requirements for the technical writing of user guides include:

  • Thorough knowledge of how to organize instruction manuals into stages and sections based on how the product works
  • A knack for creating solution-oriented content that perfectly explains how to solve a specific problem
  • Complete understanding of each product
  • A direct and no-frills style with clear and concise points and minimal use of fluff or filler content

Product manual or repair manual writers can find jobs with a wide range of employers, from copywriting firms to production companies. However, it’s a somewhat limited field of technical writing, so look for an employer that offers progressive growth when applying for a job in this genre. 

Books and Guides by Technical Writers

Quantum software engineering

Writing technical books and long-form guides is different from the previous genre due to the length of the content, its conceptual nature, and the amount of detail they go into.

This type of writing extends a simple user guide. It talks about the intentions and purpose behind the product (usually software products).

Interestingly, even though they are more detailed, technical books have to be written so that any user can comprehend them.

The skill requirements for writing this form of technical documentation include:

  • The ability to transform complex, jargon-heavy information into simplified and informative content
  • Complete understanding of the formatting, structure, pacing, and length that’s ideal for these technical documents
  • Knowledge of when and how to insert visual aids such as graphs, images, and tables to make the content more engaging
  • Some experience in writing long-form content on a variety of subjects

These books can also take the form of troubleshooting guides for software programs. In this role, they have to account for all the possible problems the program could run into and explain solutions for each one.

Assembly Manuals 

IKEA assembly manual

Probably the most common form of technical writing in a company’s mechanical maintenance department, assembly and repair manuals are another niche form of technical writing.

This is due to the technical skills required to understand the disassembly and re-assembly process of a specific machine or piece of equipment. Most general repair guides contain a variety of assembly manuals for various types of machinery.

Assembly guides are different from any other form of technical communication because most (if not all) companies require you to have the ability to perform disassembly. 

The skill requirements for assembly manuals and guides include:

  • A theoretical and practical understanding of the equipment and repair processes involved
  • Experience working with and repairing machinery of a similar type or function
  • Ability to research (to find better, more efficient disassembly and repair processes)
  • Extensive knowledge of how production lines work and how to keep the machinery operating optimally

While it’s true that most companies are looking for a technician with writing skills, some accept career writers when they’re willing to learn about processes.

Technical Documents, Reviews, and Reports

IAEA Case study

Corporate content development contains reviews and reports for stakeholder meetings, proposals, and business pitches. 

It’s another versatile form that mixes academic reporting and technical research-based guides. Reports are technical documents that explain the process and outcome of any research, be it scientific or business-centric.

Technical reports come in several forms, such as feasibility reports, primary research reports, business plans and prospectuses, short-form proposals, press releases, case studies, etc. 

The skill requirements for assembly manuals and guides include:

  • High-level understanding of the process that’s under focus, as well as how similar processes progress over time
  • Complete knowledge of the product, as well as past, current, and (proposed) future operations
  • The ability to communicate in a business-savvy manner while also maintaining an adequate amount of technical know-how in the content
  • Excellent English language skills with an emphasis on conveying a business message

Technical reports are essential parts of corporate operations. This makes the job quite well-paying in most cases. 

Technical Writing Skills in 2024

When it comes to academic skills such as writing and linguistics, there is no substitute for an education that supports the skills. 

The same is mostly true for technical writing, with the only caveat being that you also need to be knowledgeable in the actual technical processes. 

But simply education and technical knowledge won’t bring you career success as a technical writer in 2024. You need a few more skill pointers to become a great technical writer in this day and age.

Here they are:

  • Research Skills: The ability to perform highly detailed research is the cornerstone of a successful career. Most technical writing involves some form of research and study before the actual bit. Ensure to develop the ability to research extensively and be highly observant throughout the research to find the most valuable points for your content. 
  • Efficient Planning: Unless you have a complete timeline to develop your technical content, you will need to learn how to manage your research, outlines, content writing, and distribution efficiency. Planning for the content ahead of time or developing a system to wrap up high-level content quickly will help you stick to deadlines without compromising quality.
  • Observation Skills: Most technical content is long-form and involves many complex data points. Make sure to develop a keen sense of observation which will help you pick valuable data from a sea of random information.
  • Being Tech-Savvy: Digital ages require knowledge of content development software systems in 2024, especially to develop more high-quality content in a short time. If you’re not already, be sure to take online courses in content writing software systems before applying for a job.

These technical writing skills will help you succeed in your career. Additionally, make sure that this type of content appeals to you as a technical writer and that you’re willing to explore the various sides of it throughout your career. 

Final Thoughts

According to the BLS, most technical writers make over six figures a year. When technical writers take home these figures, it makes it one of the best-paying jobs in the professional field of writing and media. Technical writers are desperately needed to make communications clear, and technical writers can involve themselves in many demands to create a technical document or technical documentation.

To ensure that you go above and beyond in your career, find out where your technical marketing communication strengths lie, what technical documentation skills companies value, and apply for jobs accordingly. 

If you are new to technical writing, we recommend taking our Technical Writing Certification Course. You will learn the fundamentals of being a technical writer, how to dominate technical writer interviews, and how to stand out as a technical writing candidate.

Josh Fechter
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He had his first job in technical writing for a video editing software company in 2014. Since then, he has written several books on software documentation, personal branding, and computer hacking. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.