5 Strong Technical Writing Examples (and What They Do Well)
Technical writing is a type of writing that involves describing complex topics using language that is clear and concise.
Technical writers are often responsible for creating technical documentation, such as manuals, guides, and tutorials, for software programs, websites, and other technologies.
This writing style requires a deep understanding of the subject matter and the ability to communicate effectively. The best way to improve your technical writing skills is to practice. You can use these five technical writing examples to help you do just that.
1. End-User Manual
Also called user guides, instruction manuals, and end-user documentation, an end-user manual is content that guides someone on how to use a product or service. These documents are written with the assumption that the user has no technical knowledge or doesn't understand the technical terms of the topic.
Adobe created an end-user manual or guide for newbies learning InDesign's features. The company provides step-by-step instructions on how to use the software to create beautiful graphic designs and elegant layouts.
What it does well: This technical document is neatly organized with a table of contents, headings, and subheadings. Users can start at the beginning of the guide, or they can visit each section individually, depending on their questions.
For example, users could begin clicking on sections to get an entire overview of InDesign. Or maybe they just want to create an ebook page. They can click on the corresponding section. Adobe includes clear instructions and images for each topic.
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2. API Documentation
API documentation is a reference manual on how to effectively use and integrate the application programming interface (API). It's written for technical users who want to move forward in their software development.
Stripe, the online payment processing company, provides comprehensive documentation on its API -- from Authentication to Request IDs.
What it does well: Stripe's documentation includes definitions, helpful core resources, information on products, and more. Categories are clearly organized with subcategories. Helpful API screenshots are also included on the side of the instructions.
3. Annual Report
An annual report is a comprehensive technical document that a company presents to its shareholders to describe its activities from the previous year.
The formal document typically includes a report from the company's Chairperson, CEO, corporate info, mission statement, etc.
Below is an example of this technical document from the Canadian Hearing Services (CHS). Presented for 2020-2021, the report includes an overview of CHS, its business activities, and in-depth financial information.
What it does well: The annual report clearly updates shareholders on the company's condition while telling a story about how the company pivoted during the pandemic. The content is polished and accurate, which is crucial as it's presented to a large audience. It also includes visuals and clear formatting, which keeps the reader engaged in the content.
4. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
A standard operating procedure or SOP is a set of instructions on what steps to follow when performing some kind of operational task.
These steps ensure that laws, industry regulations, or a company's quality standards are met. SOPs are typically required in industries such as manufacturing, warehousing, and restaurants.
The following SOP is for the Central Fire Protection District of Santa Cruz Counties' personal operating vehicles. It outlines the scope, purpose, definitions, etc., of using these vehicles to enforce safety laws and the safety of the drivers.
What it does well: This SOP includes a brief overview of the purpose of the document (aka the Scope) at the top so the reader knows what to expect before reading. The information could also get confusing and dense, but the writer incorporated clear headings and white space through the use of bulleted lists and paragraphs to create digestible content.
5. White Paper
A white paper is common in the technical world. It outlines a specific problem and provides solutions and solution benefits. It is a larger writing piece (typically 2,500 words) and deals with complex topics. It's also a widely-used marketing tool.
For example, Redpoint Global created a white paper to explain the problem of brands connecting with customers through their preferred touchpoints. The white paper then offers a solution for using a customer data platform.
What it does well: The white paper provides persuasive stats to support its arguments. It clearly presents the problem, digging into three obstacles that prevent data-driven customer engagement with numbered lists. This approach then sets up Golden Records' customer data platform as a perfect solution. The white paper's title could be more descriptive and persuasive, but overall, it does a good job of outlining a specific problem.
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Use these technical writing examples to improve your writing.
Notice what these technical writing samples have in common: they are concise, clearly organized, and incorporate visuals as needed.
Whether you're writing end-user documentation, technical reports, or another type of company document, improve your technical content by following what these sample documents do well.
- Let your target audience and purpose guide your technical document.
- Follow a formal writing process to avoid getting stuck while drafting.
- Add clear visuals and graphics that complement your written work and support reader understanding.
- Edit, edit, edit. Ensure that your technical writing assignment is accurate, clear, and keeps the needs of your audience in mind.
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