Technical Writing Part 2: Technical Writing vs. Copywriting

You can write in many ways

In a recent discussion, the topic of technical writing and copywriting was raised. While, at a glance, the two disciplines may seem rather distinct, the end goal is the same: satisfying the reader.

Technical writers satisfy their clients with useful and concise documentation.

Copywriters satisfy their users with well-written and interesting articles.

The similarities

As mentioned above, the main goal is the same with both writing disciplines. After going through a writer’s work, the reader should not feel like they’ve wasted their time, no matter their expectations.

Both fields emphasize writing well, avoiding mistakes, and thorough research. You do not want to spread misinformation, especially in these uncertain times. You also do not want others to refute your articles or guides for gross inconsistencies or mistakes.

They also employ stricter or looser style guides. A coherence in writing is important, so as to not confuse the reader. What’s more, spelling, grammar, and other rules should be enforced, no matter the field.

Additional materials can be of great use for both disciplines. An image is worth a thousand words, no matter how they are written. Diagrams or even videos can also enhance an article or a guide, as not every reader may be able to understand what is being relayed in words.

The differences

Technical writers start their work with a more precise target: relaying important information to the user

Copywriters, on the other hand, start with a more ambiguous objective: making a person read through their work.

The overall approach to the actual writing process is, as such, pretty different. One is structured, concise, and leaves no room for ambiguity, while the other is imaginative and open to interpretation. While you can let your personality shine through when doing some copywriting (provided you can be subjective), in terms of technical documentation, you must be as objective and formal as possible.

In technical writing, you know for sure a user is going to arrive to your work with a reason, so you want to make your documentation as easy to comprehend as possible. For copywriters, other matters are a bit more important, such as titles for articles, or original content that makes your work stand out from the billions of other websites out there.

A brief example

To illustrate a bit these two sides of the writing field, let’s consider a goal of relaying information about how to use FreeCodeCamp, a website dedicated to teaching others web development.

Copywriting

Have you ever wished you could get into web development? Have you been intimated by the huge amount of choices in the field? Then look no further as FreeCodeCamp is here!

You can just visit the official website, sign up, and you can go through the curriculum to learn all sorts of nifty things. From front end to back end and even the middle end (ba-dum-tss!).

You’ll also be helping non-profit organizations along the way, so act now!

Technical writing

FreeCodeCamp is a website dedicated to teaching web development to others. Accessible from this link, it requires a simple sign-up before you can start learning.

The curriculum encompasses:

Front End Development Certification

Data Visualization Certification

Back End Development Certification

Full Stack Development Certification

For details, refer to the official website.

No matter the writing, the reader counts

You can be a technical writer, a copywriter, or even a cross like a technical copywriter that, instead of documentation, delivers in-depth articles about technology, products, and other such things.

However, the end goal should never escape your mind while you are pushing keys or handling a pen: the satisfaction of the reader.