–Tech­ni­cal Writ­ing For Dum­mies® by Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts

Many peo­ple ask the dif­fer­ence between busi­ness writ­ing and tech­ni­cal writ­ing. The
dif­fer­ence is anal­o­gous to apples and oranges. For exam­ple, at the very core (par­don the
pun), apples and oranges are fruits. And at the very core, doc­u­ments are words and
graph­ics. Beyond the core, busi­ness and tech­ni­cal doc­u­ments are dif­fer­ent species.

Doc­u­ments of the busi­ness kind
Let­ters are the crux of busi­ness doc­u­ments. When you fac­tor in e-mail mes­sages, that
accounts for as much as 90 per­cent of all busi­ness cor­re­spon­dence. Every
busi­nessper­son writes busi­ness doc­u­ments — let­ters, memos, e-mail mes­sages,
pro­pos­als, reports, and more. One major dif­fer­ence between busi­ness and tech­ni­cal
doc­u­ments is that busi­ness doc­u­ments are gen­er­ally writ­ten by one per­son, often for a
sin­gle reader or small, select group of read­ers. Fol­low­ing are some com­monly writ­ten
busi­ness documents:

  • Agen­das
  • E-mail mes­sages
  • Let­ters
  • Meet­ing minutes
  • Memos
  • Pre­sen­ta­tions
  • Pro­pos­als
  • Reports

Print or Elec­tronic Media — That Is the Ques­tion
Tech­ni­cal writ­ing cov­ers both print and elec­tronic media and you must under­stand
which (or a com­bi­na­tion of both) is suit­able for your reader. Fol­low­ing is a sam­pling of a
few types of print and elec­tronic media that fall under the broad cat­e­gory of tech­ni­cal
• User/reference man­u­als for hard­ware or soft­ware
• Equip­ment spec­i­fi­ca­tions for peo­ple who assem­ble, oper­ate, or repair machin­ery
• Sci­en­tific arti­cles, reports, and white papers
• Papers to be deliv­ered at sem­i­nars or con­fer­ences
• Web-based doc­u­ments
• Computer-based doc­u­ments
• Online doc­u­men­ta­tion (with Help included)
In the early 1990s com­pa­nies deliv­ered print ver­sions of user man­u­als, parts
cat­a­logs, spec­i­fi­ca­tions, and the like. Now these same doc­u­ments may be deliv­ered
in print or elec­tronic form.