Technical writing is different from other forms of writing despite having some similarities with other different types of technical writing documents.

If you want to know the exact similarities and differences among different forms of writing then, this article is a must-read for you.

Let us first understand what's technical writing.

What is technical writing


Technical writing is a practice of delivering a straightforward instruction designed to educate, direct, and advise a particular audience through full clarification and specificity, with a common tangible purpose in mind

Common myths about technical writing are all about science, engineering, and technology. 

However, technical writing is different from writing only about science and technology, it is about writing technical details of any subject you can write technical content on even the most non-technical subject in the world, such as politics. 

So it's all about writing the technical side of any subject or the technicalities of it.

What are the different forms of technical writing?

The practice of providing a clear and instruction that is intended to inform, direct, instruct is followed in many fields. Remember the goal is to create a technical document.


The various forms or type of technical writing that are available are as follows:

  1. Traditional Technical Writing - Handbooks, User Guide, Installation Guide, Release Notes, Quick Start guide, Upgrade guide, Service Work Instructions, Maintenance Manual, etc. 

  2. Reports - Lab Reports, Medica Journals, Thesis Papers, etc

  3. Data Statistics - Population data, etc

  4. Surveys 

  5. Government Laws

  6. Business documents - Proposals, Disclaimer, Contracts.

NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list.

Let us first understand what is the general purpose of any form of technical writing.

What is the purpose of technical writing?


The purpose of technical writing is to educate learners about the topic.

It is a kind of written communication from an expert to a particular user who has the intention of solving a problem, troubleshoot, gain more knowledge, etc.

Technical writing deals with the knowledge that is not widespread, it is the territory of experts and specialist.

Whatever your field is, you are developing and expertise- you are becoming a specialist in a particular technical area.

So the question now arises is when does writing becomes technical?

When does writing becomes technical?

Consider the launch of a new mobile phone. The articles, press releases, and reports generated have the purpose of promoting the new product. The main intention of the writings will be to spread awareness among the people.

Consider this grab below, which is a press-release of a new iPhone. The press release may or may not include the feature and specifications. 


However, when someone writes the features and technical specifications of this new product or suppose say the documentation which comes along with the box of an iPhone, are pure examples of technical writing.

Whenever you try to write or phrase something about in about your product you are engaged in technical communication.

In technical communication, the writer is supposed to be an expert and the readers are the learners 

The audience is the most important part of a technical document. Remember, the audience can have a different level of knowledge about any particular topic and so you need to write to a specific audience whenever you are writing a technical piece of content.

For example: Suppose you are the technical writer of an ERP software product. Depending on whether the end-user is the administrator of the school or the student itself, the document will rapidly vary.

Technical writing is fact-based writing, opinion and judgments are to be avoided in all cases.

Accuracy is crucial as even a small error in technical content can lead to disastrous results.

How technical writing is different?

Here I have listed down some very frequently asked questions on how Technical Writing is different from general writing or various other forms of writing.

Q: Why technical writing is different from general writing? 

The simple answer would be, as the name itself suggest, Technical Writing is more technical as compared to the general writing such as an essay or a notice or a poem.

Q: How technical writing is different from scientific writing?

In scientific writing, the writer communicates the information to other scientists and/or followers. The writing is mostly the research or findings of a scientist.

There can be several assumptions which the scientists need to declare before starting the research. These assumptions are not allowed in technical writing.

Q: How technical writing is different from academic writing?

Academic writing has the sole purpose of teaching emphasizing knowledge flow. Academic writing is very disciplined and jargon-heavy content with lots of examples with easy understanding.

However, Technical Writing not only includes the above qualities but also troubleshooting contents, that is missing in Academic writing.

Q: How technical writing is different from literature or literary writing?

Technical writing is totally different from literature writing or sometimes referred to as creative writing. 

In literature writing, the quality comes when the writer can create a mood or suspense in the reader’s mind with the use of fiction in their writing. Literary writing also includes strong vocabulary usage.

However, Technical Writing always focuses on short, simple objective, and up to date information. 

Q: Technical Writing vs Copywriting

Unlike the technical writers, a copywriter’s job involves creating marketing materials, such as product infographics, brochures, poster ads, flyers, and leaflets.

Q: Technical Writing vs Instructional Design

The job of Instructional Designer involves creating/promoting learning-based content such as course, quiz, etc. The courses are designed to improve the performance, take an assessment, and/or provide awareness among the readers.

While Technical Writing attempts to inform, troubleshoot, and provide instructions to the readers.

Q: Technical writing vs Journalism

Journalism deals with the story or incident-based writing which may or may not involve testimonials, strong language, vocabulary.

Another factor that strongly states journalism is different from technical writing is in terms of published output. A journalist publishes multiple output formats such as TV and social media. Technical writing is not published in this output medium.


The audience is very specific in Technical Writing unlike other forms of writing. Presentation and tone in Technical writing should be short, precise, and straight forward.

An illustration is encouraged in Technical Writing to boosts understanding and sometimes also helps in finding the relevant content.

If you are a technical writer you are supposed to have a very good knowledge of the product you are writing for and people will follow you with what information you provide.

The information you provide should be 100 percent objective, factual, unambiguous, and up to date. No emotion, opinion, and strong vocabulary is encouraged in technical writing.

With the above-mentioned characteristics of technical writing, it becomes a subset within many categories, such as scientific writing, academic writing, yet Technical Writing stays as a different category on its own.

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