Types of Technical Documents prepared by a "Technical Writer".

Updated: May 29, 2021

Technical writers prepare different types of manuals based on the. organizations needs. They even prepare memo's, articles, advertisements (marketing materials), and other supporting documents. Their main aim is to convert complex technical information into more simple language in order to accomplish this task they also gather and analyze technical information. They prepare information for different audiences such as trainees, programmers,designers, networking specialists, customers etc. One of the main job functions is to determine the needs of end users. They study the software product and interview with the programmers, product designers and networking specialist, testing team and other technical staff to understand the product ad to create manuals. They use simple language and organize the supporting documents for the software products. They use manuals, flowcharts, presentation slides, blogs, online help to express their work. Some of the manuals created by technical writers are listed below and some of them have been given brief description.

Types of Technical Documents

· Management Information System Manual

· Organizational Manual

· Technical Background Manual

· Functional Specifications

· Operational Specifications

· Design Specifications

· Installation Manual

· Maintenance Manual

· Architecture Manual

· Application Manual

· Technical Specifications

· Stand Operating Policies and Procedures (SOP) manual

· Business Plans

· Requirement Specifications

· System Requirements

· System Integration

· Reports - Recommendations, Evaluations and Feasibilty

· Workflow Management System

· System Integration Document

· Testing Manual

· Data Sheet

· XML Documentation

· CMM Process Model documents

· Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

· Terminology – Glossary/Abbreviations.

The Technical writer needs to have a firm understanding of the organization’s working and technology to prepare these manuals. For this he/she needs to gather information. This accumulation of information is extremely important and is a practically a roadmap of the organization's working, networking and software technology. This information helps to improve knowledge of the organization’s software product, including systems, networking, functions, design, standards, business plans. operations, security data model, and cloud services business strategy data storage among other things. An organization has several different types of reports. Some of the reports are mentioned here. This section concisely outlines different manuals.

Primary Research Reports

Primary research report is a report or collection of data at the beginning of the project. It is the original research data and is very significant since this enables you an insight into the product and all the critical and essential information. Your initial understanding of the product is very imperative. This information can be accessed by interviewing the project team members, reading available information or direct observation.

The contents of the primary research report are typically uncomplicated, and you have to develop your manuals and specifications from this research. The primary research report is just the initial report and it has just basic information, you develop more complex information, which is fundamental for a technical writer. Contents of primary research reports include details such as introduction of the product, purpose, objectives, scope, methods, procedures etc.

User Manual

A user manual contains all technical details of the software product. The language used in this manual is much more simpler than the specification manuals or hardware manuals and it lists all the documents involved in the project and a lot of clear, simplified diagrams.

Standard operating policies (SOP) and procedures manual.

These are the organizations operating manual. This manual contains the rules and regulations on how the organization and its members are expected to perform their daily responsibilities and to execute their tasks in order to achieve the end-result. Policies and procedures are the organizations guidelines and directives. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) manuals are procedures and processes in which the techniques and practices used by the organization are explained in detail.

Reports - Recommendations, Evaluations and Feasibility

These reports prepare, organizes, compares numerous possibilities and decisions against a set of requests and requirements raised during the project and selects the most feasible and reasonable choice. considers an idea (plan, project) in terms of its "feasibility," While doing a feasibility report some of the aspects that are taken into consideration are the technical necessity and cost-effectiveness of the requirements

Technical background Manual

This manual emphasizes more on the practical and methodological area of the software. Technical provides describes functionality and architecture of a technical product for a definite audience who have explicit requirement for this type of documentation. technical documentation aims at providing enough information for a user to understand inner and outer dependencies of the product at hand.

Technical guides and handbooks.

Technical guides are like technical manuals, but they are not as detailed. It is an abstract of the technical manual.

Business plans.

A business plan is a document specifying a business's future objectives and strategies for achieving them. A business plan is a official document which contains business goals, the techniques of achieving these goals and the time allotted to achieve these goals need to be achieved. It also explains the type of the business, financial statement, budget, policies and procedures and the strategies it proposes to implement to accomplish the desired objective. This document serves as a road map to the business.

Technical specifications.

A specification manual is a document which gives details to different types of requirements which needs to be satisfied depending upon the purpose, functions, design, product etc. A specification is a requirement or technical standard set by the organization. There are different types of technical specifications and the term is applied differently in different technical perspectives. Technical Specifications or specs often derive their title from the type of content or subject matter within them. There are different types of technical specification documents, such as requirement specifications, functional specifications, design specifications, implementation specifications etc. This type presents descriptive and operational details on a new or updated product. See the content, organization, and format guidelines for technical specifications in the following.

Technical Background Reports

Technical Background reports provides information on a technical topic. It provides information about the product, but in such a way that is modified for an audience such as trainees, programmers, customers etc. who have specific requirements for the particular information. Technical background reports are meticulous and specific.

Only distinctive characteristic and contents of the product, functions, design are mentioned in the technical background reports. There are no common set of contents as it is designed for audience with a specific and definite, requirement. So, the subject matter is methodical and meticulous, just pertaining to the topic on hand.

Technical writers create other manuals operations manuals, instructions manuals, how-to manuals, applications manuals, hardware manuals, assembly instructions manuals, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's), blogs, web pages to help their audiences who may be the customers, trainees, programmers, designers, other technical support staff and other users within the organization. Technical writers have many job roles such as customer service representative, software librarian, they are always a part of the testing team, Even after the product is released, technical writers also have to update their documents and prepare error management documents and work with the project managers, product liability specialists, customer service managers to help the end-users through any product design changes.

Technical writers have to work with computer programmers and computer hardware engineers, computer support specialists, and software developers to manage the flow of information among project workgroups during development and testing. Therefore, technical writers must be able to understand complex information, ask the right questions and communicate the same information to the concerned professionals.

Technical writers must apply their knowledge of the product. This can only be done by gathering as much information as possible, while working on the project. Technical writers serve as part of the testing team conducting usability studies to help improve the design of a product that is in the prototype stage. Technical writers have to prepare the necessary test plans and testing documents, capture screen shots to prepare the document, Technical writers conduct a thorough research on the product through personal observation, available materials or interviewing the team members which technical specialists.

Some technical writers help write grant proposals for research scientists and institutions, even NGO's. All kinds of technical information is available online, which helps the technical writers understand the product immensely. Most of the organizations are using the interactive technologies . Basically the work of a technical writer is to pay strong attention to details and to convert it to simple language and explain it to multiple audience. They should be skilled in multi-tasking and prioritizing their work.