What or who is a Technical Author?

That’s a question that most Technical Authors are often asked whenever they have to enter their occupation on a form.  More importantly, clients and agencies often ask this question in one way or other. This document is for you, if you are likely to recruit a technical author, or to commission work from one.

A technical author produces information on technical subjects. This information can be many different kinds of things, for example:

♦ Business procedures for internal company instructions, or to comply with external standards such regulatory agencies, ISO standards, ITIL etc.
♦ User instructions for such things as computer software, computer hardware, telecommunications equipment, scientific instruments or consumer electronics.
♦ Technical documentation for software or hardware engineers.

The output may be in various forms:

♦ Paper
♦ Electronic, for example, intranets and help screens
♦ Multimedia

It may be for:

♦ Users (book, manual, handbook, training course, script for an audio- visual program)
♦ Developers or engineers (technical documentation, specifications or test scripts)
♦ Customers (marketing documents, white papers)
♦ Others

Here we are using the term “technical author” in a wide sense, so some people who come under this description may have different job titles.

The important thing is that the actual production of the deliverable copy is usually only a small, though essential, part of a technical author’s work.

This is a personal view, so not everyone will see everything the way it is described here. It has been written from the point of view of a contract technical author, so writers of books for a mass audience and employees in large or small documentation departments may have different ideas on some points.

.....What does a Technical Author do?⇒