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October 21, 2016

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Lauren Ruiz

One of my good friends is a technical writer. He writes manuals for high-tech measuring devices and, often, the computer software that comes with it. He has to learn how to use these on his own before writing the manuals. Sometimes I wonder how he does it. Then I remember he has an engineering degree...haha.

I'm a freelance editor, but I have never gotten a technical project to edit, while business editing is one of my specialties. If I were to receive a technical project, I would investigate it thoroughly to see if I'm the right editor for it. I don't think there's a greater need to edit business writing over technical writing, but my experience tells me it'd be harder to find the right editor for technical writing (like, say, a high-tech manual), especially if the technical writer or the company wanted something deeper than a proofread or a copyedit. That said, I'm positive it's worth the search.

Stephanie M.

I agree. A business writing class would be beneficial to many people, not only technical writers. As a technical writer myself, I've been involved in editing or reviewing business writing for peers. Therefore, it's been helpful for me to have knowledge in both forms of writing.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Thanks for stopping by, Lauren. I agree that editors often need subject-matter knowledge for technical documents. But a fresh, beginner's eye can sometimes recognize an issue the technical experts miss, especially when readers or users will not be technical experts.

Like you, I have edited business documents but not technical ones. My experience is limited to what I have seen rather than what I have done.

Lynn

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi Stephanie,

I agree about the value of business writing classes. Topics such as sentence structure, active voice verbs, and concise language--along with many more--apply to both business writing and technical writing.

Lynn

Chanaka Palliyaguru

Sometimes not having the subject matter knowledge can be beneficial to a technical writer/editor, specially when writing for a lay user audience. When the writer/editor knows too much, there is a danger of them assuming that the audience will know everything they write.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Yes, I agree. Thanks for commenting.

Lynn

Liz Tucker

I don't think these two types of writing are necessarily mutually exclusive. I often find that in the same document, I use both technical and business writing skills.

Jeff Simmmons

I am a freshman. Currently, working on my degree in B. A. After the first homework I've done, I realized that the way I am writing is not relevant to business as itself. I start looking for help over the Internet to make my writing more closed and appropriate to the matter at hand. Here what I found:

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Sorry, Jeff. There is no way I will promote college essay writing services.

Lynn

Jonathan B Williams

I agree with this article. As a former technical writer (I ghostwrite books now) who also did some business writing, I found that there might be a tiny bit of marketing babble--as a friend of mine liked to call it--within a technical document, but the audience and purpose for the two kinds of writing tended to be pretty separate. I agree as well that sound writing principles need to be used with both, so if a business writing course teaches that, it will help technical writers too, even though a business writing course won't cover some of what tech writers do. And lastly, I heartily second the notion that a technical writer doesn't need to know everything about their subject. Why? Well first, that's what SMEs are for. And second, if you know the subject too well, you might be tempted to skip defining or explaining the jargon and acronyms that so often populate technical documentation, especially if the document has a lay end user as its audience. There's just no replacing a good technical writer with an engineer who can maybe write, in my humble opinion!

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Jonathan, thanks for stopping by with so much agreement!

Lynn

eunah

very true. strong business writing skills will help you manouver any other not just the technical skills

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