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The Future of Technical Writing and Editing

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When technical communication began to emerge as a profession 60 years ago, virtually all practitioners were technical writers or editors. The third alternative in the field, technical illustration, required knowledge and talents that very few possessed. However, the ability to craft clear, precise reports, proposals, and procedures, and to edit those documents to ensure that they met user needs and corporate standards of quality were skills more easily learned.

These days, we often speak of technical communication as an umbrella profession because it subsumes a great variety of tasks. Chat up your colleagues at an STC chapter meeting or conference, and you may be amazed at the range of titles they hold: usability expert, content management specialist, user experience designer, information development manager, instructional designer, user assistance professional, and Web master, to name only a few. Of course, there are still many who call themselves technical writers or editors, but those jobs don’t seem as interesting or trendy as the more recent additions to the catalog.

More importantly, when we look at what these folks do, how they spend their time on the job, it often seems as though writing and editing account for a very small portion of their typical workdays. So it‘s only natural to wonder whether there is a future for technical writing and editing.

Document Type: Editorial

Publication date: 2007-08-01

More about this publication?
  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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