For young writers in the business, technical writing is a term that often draws raised eyebrows. At best, the words sound too rocket science-y, difficult to nail on paper, and daunting to pursue. It is almost as if technical writing is a far concept, especially as we’re used to a more casual style on social media. But is that really the case?
In actuality, technical writing is embedded everywhere. While it is often used in business, science, and tech contexts, technical writing is not as complicated as it seems as these types of content are in our physical and digital spaces. Only, they go unnoticed as they are less entertaining and more informative than people want them to be.
According to the Census Bureau report, technical content writing has gained popularity in Southeast Asia, comprising 7.86% of global technical writers. To explore that, we share with you five technical writing examples that give us a glimpse of how it is done in the region.
Technical Writing is Here, There, and Everywhere
1. User Manuals
One of the primary technical report examples are the user manuals that come with your purchased products. Often, people just simply chuck these in the bin. But without these manuals, customers will find it challenging to make their way around their new gadgets, operate their new appliances, or work out any complicated item.
In writing these manuals, the technical content writer must have the technical expertise to fully inform the readers. At the same time, they should also be able to skillfully translate the information to the average non-technical reader, which can improve the usability or the document’s ease of use to help achieve the intended purpose of the product.
For Indonesia, FitBit released user manuals in different languages, including in their native language Indonesian. Their ‘Panduan Pengguna’ (User Guide) can now help their monolingual users navigate their SpO2 and all their regulated products as technical writers also pay attention to their audience’s needs for easily accessible content.
2. Companies’ Website FAQs
Another technical writing example are the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that companies post on their websites. These forms of technical reports are very straightforward in answering common inquiries that a business receives in relation to their services, from applying for licenses, signing up to subscriptions, to basic terms and the scope of their line of work. It is a very easy way to relay information without the added hassle of replying to each customer’s questions. Through FAQs, technical content writers are able to state chunks of information right when people are browsing through the company’s website.
Bank Negara Malaysia is just one of the leading institutions in Malaysia making good use of their FAQs. This part of their website is further sectioned according to the type of client and the category of the services that they often encounter in their bank. A good practice in technical writing is being comprehensive in the content that you will be releasing to your readers, which Bank Negara Malaysia has established in this example.
3. Informative Articles
Many of the articles we read online are a form of technical writing. In topics such as engineering, business, and healthcare, technical content writers dive into topics that require precise technical information to be communicated to the readers. In this, writing should aspire to be more informative than amusing, though some technical articles incorporate a conversational tone to connect with the audience. Nevertheless, people consume this type of technical writing for the value of information they can receive to instruct or guide them in making sound decisions.
In Singapore, the Ministry of Health’s Health Hub website posts plenty of articles covering a range of health topics: body care, child & teen health, conditions & illnesses, sexual health & relationships, and exercise fitness, to name a few. Medical practitioners carefully write the research-supported articles using plain language to help them understand and address their medical needs.
4. Promotional Materials
Promotional materials such as print or digital brochures, catalogs, and advertisement flyers are a type of technical marketing content made to sell products and services to potential customers. Email marketing, a sub-category of promotional materials, often taps technical content writers to promote new releases and other company promotions that could benefit their subscribers. Items created for promotion purposes rely heavily on impactful language, balancing honest and striking words and avoiding empty adjectives.
Despite the gold trading industry’s exclusive nature in Thailand, Hua Seng Heng attracts a significant number of clients through their promotional content. Customers and even interested traders remain up-to-date on how they can save a lot in their gold investments.
5. Training Manuals
The last technical writing example found in the region are training manuals. This form of technical communication provides working knowledge on different areas as applicable. It often includes a detailed description of the materials and a step-by-step process to achieve specific outcomes based on the role of the user.
As a country rich in manual labor, the Philippines generally makes plenty of training manuals that equip workers with the right skills and competencies to be more efficient in their craft. The Department of Science and Technology aimed to provide Filipinos technical skills on woodcraft as a possible source of livelihood and to productively transform local natural resources. It is worth noting that their training manuals can also be downloaded in three languages: English, Tagalog (Filipino), and Bisaya.
These technical writing examples are just some of the ways writers in the region have incorporated the type of writing to everyday life. While it is not any different from Western content, there are still a few things that distinguish technical writing in Southeast Asian countries.
For one, the language of technical content in the region sets itself apart. Although each SEA country differs in its linguistic situation, it is generally agreed upon that writers in these areas consider the various spoken languages when communicating technical information. And with current efforts to localize content, using training manuals or reading through promotional materials has never been easier for people who find it difficult to understand English.
Thanks to the linguistic considerations, another distinctive approach in technical writing is the range of topics that writers are covering to keep their readers abreast with the necessary information, such as people in need of health information. To illustrate, technical writers make it easy to inform people in the region about the COVID-19 mass vaccination from reputable medical practitioners during this pandemic, helping people understand its effect and increase the number of vaccinated individuals.
Beyond all this, people have embraced the category of writing as it has been the cause of greater information dissemination. Whether physical or digital, it is still safe to say that people–more so in Southeast Asia–are consuming meaningful technical content without even realizing it.
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Graphic by Giuseppe Espejo