Technical documentation plays a crucial role in explaining products in detail and comprehensively. In particular, it is essential for providing user information to show customers how to use the product correctly. Clear, target-group-oriented language in the user manual is essential to ensure comprehension.
What is Technical Documentation?
Technical documentation is the creation and management of documents that present complex information in a clear and understandable way. These documents are used to explain the use, operation or repair of products and systems. Technical documentation is essential in many areas, such as medical technology, the pharmaceutical or biotech industries, and many other technical fields.
Differences between Internal and External Technical Documentation
Internal technical documentation records and accompanies a product throughout its lifecycle to help the manufacturer meet its regulatory and legal obligations. It not only serves as the basis for external technical documentation, but also contains extensive information on various topics. Internal documentation therefore plays a central role in the collection, distribution and preservation of the company’s internal knowledge and expertise and goes far beyond a simple obligation. Examples of internal documentation include:
- Test reports
- Risk analyses and assessments
- Technical data, drawings and explanations
- Evidence for QA
- Specifications and design documents
- Software code and tests
External technical documentation, also known as user documentation or user information, is a subset of internal documentation and is aimed directly at the end user. It contains all the information necessary for the safe and intended use of the product. Legal requirements specify what information must be provided to enable all users, including installers, repairers and transporters, to carry out their activities safely and effectively. Examples of external documentation include:
- Instructions, such as operating, user and installation manuals
- Promotional brochures
What are the Tasks Involved in Technical Documentation?
The quality of technical documentation is critical to end-user usability, safety and satisfaction, as well as regulatory compliance. Good technical documentation helps to avoid misunderstandings, reduce support costs and increase the acceptance of products or systems. Typical tasks for specialists in this field include:
- Writing user manuals – developing instructions to help users effectively use products or systems
- Product documentation – detailed description of product features, specifications and design
- Assembly instructions – providing step-by-step instructions on how to assemble products
- Maintenance and repair manuals – instructions on how to maintain or repair products or systems
- Software documentation – creating documentation for software applications, including user manuals, API documentation and development guides
- Training materials – developing materials to educate and train users or technicians
- Compliance documentation – ensuring that products comply with relevant industry standards, norms and regulatory requirements
- Risk assessment and safety instructions – analysing potential risks associated with handling the product and providing safety instructions
- Document management – organising, versioning and archiving documents to ensure they are up-to-date and accessible
Special Features of Technical Documentation
Working in the field of technical documentation requires a unique combination of technical understanding, linguistic precision and pedagogical skills. Here are some of the aspects that make working in technical documentation special:
- Interdisciplinary interface: Technical writers work at the intersection of technology, language and design. They need to understand technical concepts and present them clearly to a wide audience. This interdisciplinary nature requires a wide range of skills and makes for a varied job.
- Communicating complex content: The ability to translate complex technical information into simple, easy-to-understand instructions or explanations is both a key challenge and a specialised skill in technical documentation.
- Impact on usability and safety: Good technical documentation not only improves the user experience by contributing to the effective use of products, but also contributes significantly to the safety of end users. Technical writers therefore make a direct contribution to the success and acceptance of products.
- Global relevance and compliance: In many industries, technical documentation is critical not only for usability, but also for compliance with international standards and regulatory requirements. Technical writers therefore contribute to the global marketability and regulatory compliance of products.
- Lifelong learning: As technical communicators need to keep up with the latest products, technologies and standards, working in technical documentation offers continuous learning opportunities.
- Creativity and problem-solving: Designing effective and engaging documentation requires creativity to present information in a visually appealing way and make complex issues intuitively understandable.
- Diverse applications: Technical documentation is in demand across all industries – from software development to medical technology and mechanical engineering. This offers technical writers a wide range of career opportunities and the chance to gain experience in different areas.
Working in technical documentation is particularly appealing to technology enthusiasts who have a passion for communicating knowledge and making complex content accessible.
Are you looking for technical documentation staff or would you like to develop your career in this area? Contact us and we will find the perfect match for you in your specific field.