Technical Communication: Definition & Purpose

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  • 0:01 Introduction
  • 0:40 Technical Communication
  • 2:15 Purpose of Technical…
  • 3:51 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Suzanne Sweat

Suzanne has taught 12 years in the NC Public School System and three years at Campbell University. She has a master's degree in English Education.

Technical communication is a part of almost every job. This video provides the definition and purpose of technical communication, and explains why technical communication is important for businesses and consumers.

Writing in the Workplace

If you are currently employed, chances are you have already written a technical document. According to one study, the average employee spends 20% of his or her work time writing, managers spend 50% of their jobs writing, and CEOs as much as 90% of their time writing. Unless you're an English teacher, it's probably safe to say that your writing for work is neither poetic nor literary in nature. Most likely, you are writing about your business, the products you help create, and the services your company offers - how to develop, advertise, distribute, or use your goods. Maybe without even realizing it, you have been a part of technical communication.

Technical Communication

But, what is technical communication? Technical communication uses a number of media platforms to provide information to a target audience. Sometimes, to really understand what something is, it's best to define what something is not. Technical communication is not journalistic writing, expressive writing, or creative literature. It does not use symbolism or vague literary references. Its purpose is not to entertain. Instead, technical writing is designed to inform or instruct an audience with a specific goal in mind.

Technical communication is clear, concise, and objective. Technical communication encompasses an expansive group of documents. It is not limited to information about computer systems or programming. Even companies that create products that are not necessarily 'technical' still employ technical communication to develop, manufacture, market, and explain consumer goods and services.

Take, for example, a child's playset. In order to manufacture the playset, developers must create design specifications explaining the length and width of each beam, the materials to use for each part, and the colors to paint each piece. The company must then create TV commercials and store displays to advertise the playset. Finally, the playset must include clear instructions so that the consumer can safely and accurately assemble the structure. Without the technical communication of the design specifications, the advertisements, and the end-user documents, the playset would not exist.

Purpose of Technical Communication

The purpose of technical communication is to make information clear and understandable in order to make business more productive and consumer goods more convenient. Technical communication helps to advance our economy by ensuring viable research and development, safeguarding design and manufacturing, and protecting consumers through accurate and informative documents. Good technical writing will:

  • Help employers understand and complete job tasks more successfully.
  • Provide backgrounds on which new ideas can be built without repetition.
  • Prevent problems with the development and manufacturing of products.
  • Inform consumers how to assemble, fix or use a product.

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