RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken

Subject: RE: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken
From: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: "'Michael West'" <WestM -at- conwag -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 2 May 2008 10:31:31 -0700

> From: Michael West

> I don't believe that "business writing" and "technical writing" are
> necessarily mutually exclusive.

What? But they are different and I could not really see a business writer
diving-in to do technical writing or a technical writer diving-in and doing
business writing. Each class of writing may have qualities of the other,
but these two classes are not inter-changeable and one is not a part of the
other. Although writers may write in both classes of documentation and
documentation may include styles from the other class.

For example, business writing includes feasibility study reports, business
plans, proposals, marketing documentation, internal memos (official
communication), policies, and a host of other documents that require a focus
and style that is different from what is required for technical writing.
Business writing generally tries to entice the reader into accepting the
subject matter of the document or it compels the reader to abide by the
subject matter, such as rules, in the document. The audience of business
writing is not always receptive to the subject matter of the documentation.

Technical writing, on the other hand, is generally written for an audience
that is already somewhat receptive to the subject matter, like an end user
who wants to know how to use a product or a system administrator who needs
to know the requirements of an application. Technical writers may need to
use a little marketing in documentation, but marketing is not usually
required. Technical writing has a focus on the details of the subject
matter and the usability of the document, whereas, business writing is
focused on the mind of the reader and on getting buy-in for the subject

The risks of an unsuccessful technical document are lower than the risks of
an unsuccessful business document, although the detail of technical
documents is greater than that of business documents. Risks are lower for
technical writing because the failure of the document means that the
audience will not understand the product. A lack of product understanding
can be fortified with training or a re-write of the documentation. The
risks for an unsuccessful business document are that funding may not be
provided, business opportunities may be missed, policies can be violated and
incur expenses, and communication can fail to a financial detriment.
Although failure of each class of document has financial risks, the risks
from a failed business document are generally greater than the risks of a
failed technical document.

I think that the two writing classes are different enough to be mutually
exclusive. Business writing is high risk, low detail, and
marketing-focused. Technical writing is low risk, high detail, and



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Re: Definition of Tech Writer, was STC is broken: From: Michael West

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