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I'm not sure of the exact origin (there's a thread unto itself!), but I
"technical" is there to differentiate our field from creative writing
journalism. If you say you're a "writer," many people assume you write
books, plays, articles, etc.
In many cases, technical writers deal with technical topics. Some
do write about how a product works. Others do what you describe: help
end users understand what a product does. I know there are hundreds of
exceptions to this rule; not all technical writers handle technical
When you think about it though, most job titles don't accurately
what the person actually does (How many telephone operators actually
"operate" the phones?).
I'll echo what previous posters have said: the job itself is much more
important than the job title. When we introduce "new and improved"
we risk confusing hiring managers. We know what technical writers do,
and we don't need to invent inflated job titles to convey it. I'd
rather be a
technical writer and let my work speak for itself.
Plain Old Technical Writer
>>> "Anthony Markatos" <tonymar -at- hotmail -dot- com> 11/09/99 03:31PM >>>
Question to all listserv members:
Why are we called Technical Writers? Technology is implementation; it
about design; it is about HOW the product works.
Our primary job is not to write about HOW the product works. It is
understanding of essential end user tasks accomplished with the product
how those tasks interrelate. It is, in other words, conveying
of WHAT the product does to help the user achieve his/her business
We may properly digress from the WHAT and discuss the HOW, but all
organization is based on the WHAT.
How can we be viewed as "adding value" instead of "a necessary cost of
business" if something as basic as our agreed upon title is so