Introduction to technical writing

UNIT-7 [ Lesson-4: Introduction to technical writing ]

After reading this lesson you will be able to:

  • define technical writing
  • distinguish between technical and non technical writing
  • explain what is a press release
  • write a press release following the sample provided.

Introduction to technical writing

What is technical writing?

Suppose that you are writing an instruction manual for some people on “How to prepare a ground for a tent.” In the introduction you are informing readers that these instructions are for partially informed readers who know how to use spade, shovel, and rake for clearing the ground but who are approaching this task for the first time. Afterwards you provided the steps to be followed in carrying out the job.

Now while giving this kind of information you have taken extra care in choosing precise words and correct steps so as not to mislead your readers through the steps. Because your instructions will help the readers do the job efficiently you have to aim for utmost clarity in your information.


Introduction to technical writing



Your instruction should have only one interpretation so that the readers get specific, direct information instead of becoming confused with your information. So information based on facts and having only one interpretation is called technical information. In technical writing you communicate and interpret specialised information for your readers’ practical use.

Readers may need your information to answer a question, solve a problem, perform a task, or make a decision. All technical documents are prepared in response to some definite situation, to fill some specific needs. In technical writing vague, descriptive words (such as ‘a room’, ‘at a high speed’) are replaced by more precise words (eight by twelve foot room, eighty miles per hour) that give readers a clear picture.

So as an expression of facts technical writing always give only one interpretation of its information. Examples of technical reports are, weather reports, accident reports, police reports, instruction manuals, lab report, technical description of items, processes, etc.

In technical writing you communicate and interpret specialized information for your readers practical use. Readers may need your information to answer a question, solve a problem, perform a task or make a decision.

Technical writing is that writing, where writers provide factual information for readers’ practical use. The responsibility of a technical writer is to observe, interpret, and report from a technical point of view: based on facts and verifiable evidence.

Features of Technical Writing

All useful technical documents share the following features :

  • Each is produced by a writer who fully understand the subject.
  • Each is focused purely on the subject not on the writer. The readers are not interested to know what the writer feels and thinks about the subject, they want to get the straight forward information about the subject only.
  • Each conveys one meaning, allowing one interpretation only.
  • The writers of technical documents always adjust their message to the specific needs of their readers.
  • Each document is written at a level of technicality that will be understood by the specific readers (i.e. general information for non technical general persons and specialised information for the highly technical persons such as Computer Programmer, Engineers, Scientists).
  • All technical documents are categorised as efficient documents, where every detail serve a useful purpose.

Instead of merely happening, a technical document is carefully designed to share all the above features.

Non technical writing conveys impression of the writer about any subject and contains little facts in it.

Non Technical Writing

Basically poetry, fiction, essays would not form technical writing because they are written on the basis of the writer’s imagination, intuition, and feelings. Also a story, poem or essay can suggest any number of meanings and this kind of writing are subjective and termed as non technical writing.

So non-technical writing conveys impression of the writer about any subject and contain little facts about it. For example the discussion of a village could be the theme of both poetry, essay writing or technical writing as in the following passages:

A. Technical description of a village – The village called ‘Shimla’ lies in the northern corner of Dhaka district. It stretches 650 kilometres from north to south and 350 kilometres from east to west, there is a pine forest in the north east side and a bazar of 100/50 meters on the west.

There is a school, a mosque, and a health complex too for the benefit of the villagers. The population density of the village varies from 38 people per square kilometre through medium density to higher density of about 300 people or more per square kilometre. There are about 800 houses in the village.


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B. Non Technical description of a village – The village Shimla is situated in the northern part of Dhaka city. It’s a village full of life and happiness. People are mostly farmers. They grow different kinds of rice, vegetables, pulses and sell those in the nearby market. The children can go to a nearby school in the village. The elders enjoy the quietness of the surroundings and most often they go to the mosque to attend their prayers.

This is a village where there is no political parties to be seen as the elders of the village are too old to waste their energies. There are about 800 houses in the village. The members of these houses may not have the comforts of modern living but they do have mental peace, happiness and serenity of village life.

Non technical sentence : These collar ties are too heavy.

Technical Sentence : These collar ties weigh 150 kilograms a piece, thereby exceeding the load tolerance by 20 percent.

Press release is a type of technical information which gives factual information to public.

Press Release

Any private organisation or group may issue a press release which means written information given to the press for public consumption. Press release, handouts, press notes are important source of information. These type of information come from various organisations, clubs and association, business houses, political parties, etc., to a newspaper office.

Many of these information contain news value of varying degrees and the newspaper office pick up only those carrying genuine and important news value. Here the editor will decide which points to accept and which to ignore. He will definitely ignore the points which seem important to those who have issued the press release but have nothing to interest the readers.

The editor will also edit the press release sent by any outsiders to make it clear, accurate and jargon free. The editor will make sure before organising the press release that it will satisfy readers’ needs and interest. So a press release is a type of technical information too, giving factual information to the public.

But the writer may combine both technical and non technical points of view in one single information occasionally. Now let us look at the passage below which have been sent by a lady to the newspaper office as a press release information.

Dhaka: Moulvi Saleh Ahmed a very old retired government officer died at 8:30 p.m. at the Holy Family Hospital on April 10, 1995 in the city. He was 75. He was suffering from an internal haemorrhage. His wife was near his bed along with three daughters, 2 sons and a host of relatives.

If you notice carefully, then, you can see that there is no need to call the man old when the age is already mentioned and also the exact death time is not important in this case. So just April 10, 1995 would have been enough. Now look at the revised version below:

Dhaka: Moulvi Saleh Ahmed a retired government officer died on April 10, 1995 following an internal haemorrhage at the Holy Family Hospital. He was 75. He is survived by his wife, three daughters, two sons and a host of relatives to mourn his death.

So this is how the editors of the newspaper office transforms a written information (sent by anybody) into an accurate precise one to be released by the press.

Press releases are written information sent to the news office by voluntary organisation, club or social persons for the consumption of the public. The editors of the newspaper will sort, organise and transform that written information into an informative factual report before placing it as press release.


Introduction to technical writing


Question for Review

These questions are designed to help you assess how far you have understood and can apply the learning you have accomplished by answering (in written form) the following questions:

Convert the following passage into a press release for the daily news paper of your city.

“A person of about 50 died on the road of Mohakhali in the city yesterday June 11, 1995. He was hit by a local train at Mohakhali rail crossing. The body was taken to Dhaka Medical College Hospital Morgue for autopsy by some social workers.

A case was filed with Gulshan Thana in this connection by the local police.

Which of the following sentences are representing technical information and which are non technical? Put T beside the technical sentence and N for non technical one.

a. Our room is quite large.
b. The weather is beautiful today
c. My office is having a brick wall, a rug with a four inch hole in the centre five chairs with broken handles and a ceiling with
plaster missing in three or four spaces.
d. My salary is Tk. 100,000.00 per year.
e. His teaching complex has an awful view, terrible furniture and a depressing atmosphere.
f. I have a car which runs forty miles per gallon city; fifty highway.
g. Mr. Arefin bought a car with an impressive gas mileage.

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