Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Purpose of Technical Writting


Technical writing has a manifold purpose. Automotive technicians document mechanical problems, electronic engineering technicians write maintenance procedures and computer technicians write instructions for user manuals. However, technical writing is not written just by technicians. It is also produced by investment counselors who document assets and by marketing specialists who promote a service or product. Business people report on job-oriented travels, weekly sales calls etc.Some technical writing documents, some sells.

The purpose of technical writing is often determined by audience, which then affects the tone of the correspondence. In fact understanding the interrelationship among purpose, audience and tone is essential to answering the question � Why do we write technical correspondence?�

Let us say you are an engineer writing a monthly status report.
Your report month by month goes to your immediate supervisor. The supervisor reads it and then puts it in a file for future reference. With this ongoing activity in mind, you know that the purpose of your report is to document. Your goal is to dump data and nothing else. You also know that your audience is highly technical, fluent in technical terms and abbreviations. Given your purpose and your audiaudiences technical level of understanding, you write a report, which has a dry, objective, impersonal tone. Thus, the purpose of report and sense of audience create tone.

This is not the only situation on which technical writing is necessary. Your tone is decided by whom you are writing to. You will have to write up or down. If you are writing up to a supervisor or manager, then you are writing to request action, or recommend action. If you are writing down to a subordinate, then you are writing to direst action. The tone changes from audience to audience. The tone for request, proposal or recommendation written up to a manager is positive, pleasant and polite. The tone for correspondence written down might be more authoritative.


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