Technical authors write scientific and technical information for a variety of products including websites, blogs, printed documents and computerized help files.
Technical authors help to communicate technical information about products and services in a way that’s easy to understand. The information may be presented in the form of user guides for software applications, reference and instruction manuals for appliances, training guides or online help incorporated into software and operating guides.
Technical authors work for a range of industries including:
- medical and pharmaceutical supplies;
- nuclear energy;
- quality assurance;
- IT and telecommunications;
- transport and utilities.
The role of a technical author can also be referred to as a technical writer or communicator; information designer or developer; content strategist; publication manager, and more.
- writing, editing and proofreading text
- collating and verifying information
- creating and editing pictures and diagrams
- liaising with other staff such as printers, photographers and translators
- producing indexes and catalogues
Having a degree in a technical or scientific subject can help you get into the technical writing profession. Previous relevant experience is not necessary, although any experience gained from published articles, freelance work or writing competitions may be helpful, particularly for mature candidates.
Some science and technology degrees contain modules that cover technical communication, but other subjects that are useful include:
- a feel for words and a good command of grammar and vocabulary;
- a concern for verbal consistency and an appreciation of tone and style;
- an enquiring mind with attention to detail;
- an ability to grasp and structure large amounts of information and anticipate the reader’s knowledge gaps;
- editorial judgement;
- accuracy and a methodical approach to work;
- the ability to work to tight schedules;
- excellent planning and organizational skills;
- analytical skills;
- the ability to express instructions clearly and briefly in simple English;
- good documentation skills and the ability to produce visually attractive instructions;
- good interpersonal and communication skills, to gather information from and for people;
- the ability to work successfully as part of a multidisciplinary team;
- a good understanding of computers and other communication tools.