What is technical writing?
A form of communication that:
- is used across most disciplines, but especially in Engineering, Science, and Medicine;
- is written for a specific audience;
- uses discipline/profession specific language and terminology;
- is designed to provide credible, relevant, and accurate information for an audience with the purpose of reaching a specific outcome;
- may be available in a variety of formats, including electronic and analog.
Examples of technical writing include: Contracts, FAQs, Policy Documents, Product Packaging, User Manuals, Technical Reports, and White Papers.
Scholarly Journal Articles
- Communication and Mass Media CompleteSearch for journal articles on topics such as communication, mass media, film, television, marketing, business communication, health communication, and more.
- Business Source PremierFind business articles from journals and magazines in marketing, management, information technology, operations, human resources, accounting, finance and economics dating back to 1965.
- Academic Search PremierA great place to start your research on any topic, search multidisciplinary, scholarly research articles. This database provides access to scholarly and peer reviewed journals, popular magazines and other resources. View this tutorial to learn how to go from a general idea to a very precise set of results of journal articles and scholarly materials.
- FactivaSearch millions of newspapers, business magazines, and newswires with international and foreign language coverage with all editions of the Wall Street Journal. Financial information for publicly traded companies, stocks, funds, currencies, and common market indexes. Limited to 7 simultaneous users.
- Google Scholar (Setup connection to get to PDFs)Use Google Scholar to find articles from academic publishers, professional societies, research institutes, and scholarly repositories from colleges and universities. If you are using from off-campus access, change the "Library Settings" to University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Look for the "FindIt@U of M Twin Cities" links in your Google Scholar search results to access full text and PDFs. View this tutorial to learn how to go from a general idea to a very precise set of results of journal articles and scholarly materials.
- IEEE XploreFull-text access to the transactions, journals, magazines and conference proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Includes all current IEEE Standards.
- ACM (Association For Computing Machinery) Digital LibraryFull text of most Association for Computing Machinery journals and proceedings since 1950. It also includes publications of affiliated organizations.
- ScienceDirectSearch the abstracts or titles of 1800 Physical Sciences and Engineering publications from Elsevier Science. Access to the full text of articles is available for those journals subscribed to by the University of Minnesota. Over 1.2 million articles on ScienceDirect are open access. Articles published open access are peer-reviewed and made freely available for everyone to read, download and reuse in line with the user license displayed on the article.
- ScopusSearch for information from scientific journals, books and conference proceedings. Covers the fields of science, technology, medicine, social sciences, and arts and humanities.
Popular Magazine and Newspaper Articles
- Ethnic NewsWatchEthnic NewsWatch is a current resource of full-text newspapers, magazines, and journals of the ethnic and minority press from 1990, providing researchers access to essential, often overlooked perspectives.
- MasterFile CompleteSearch magazines, with a small number of journals and newspapers, covering a broad range of disciplines and topics. Includes photos and multimedia.
- U.S. Newsstream This link opens in a new windowSearch the most recent premium U.S. news content, as well as archives which stretch back into the 1980s featuring newspapers, newswires, blogs, and news sites in active full-text format.
Market & consumer research
- Mintel Market ResearchMintel reports provide market research on consumer products, services, and lifestyles to identify economic drivers, leading companies, market share, market size, trends, segmentation, and analysis of consumer attitudes and purchasing habits. Includes Mintel Trends to analyze consumer trends by sectors, demographics, themes and regions.
- Simmons InsightsSurvey data from the the Simmons National Consumer Survey to find target markets and consumer profiles for brands and products. Use Simmons advertising campaigns, market research, and business plans. Restricted to 5 simultaneous users. Most recent 2 years not available. For help see this Simmons tutorial slideshow.
- WARC (advertising)Campaign research source includes case studies, market reports, statistics, and articles from the trade magazines Admap and Market Leader as well research from the International Journal of Market Research, the Journal of Advertising Research, the International Journal of Advertising, and the Journal of Advertising History.
- Consumer & Market Research SourcesCheck out the full list of library resources for consumer and market research.
Statistics, Polls, and Surveys
- Polling the Nations This link opens in a new windowPolling the Nations is an online database of public opinion polls containing the full text of 700,000+ questions and responses, from 18,000+ surveys and 1,700+ polling organizations, conducted from 1986 through the present in the United States and more than 100 other countries around the world. Limited to 4 simultaneous users.
- Statistical Abstracts of the World This link opens in a new windowThe Statistical Abstracts of the World is a growing collection of the statistical abstracts from many countries. These statistical abstracts are generally issued by the national statistical offices of foreign governments and contain country-level data not easily found elsewhere.
- American FactFinder2American FactFinder 2 is a search engine that provides access to the population, housing and economic data collected by the Census Bureau. American FactFinder 2 can be used to retrieve data from the 2000 and 2010 Census, American Community Surveys (ACS), Population Estimates and the Economic Census and Surveys.
- SimplyAnalytics This link opens in a new windowCreate custom maps and reports on SimplyAnalytics using extensive data on demographics, consumers, real estate, housing, employment, crime, health, and more. Data includes Nielsen Scarborough local insights and crosstabs, AGS Census, Claritas PRIZM consumer segment, MRI Simmons consumer survey data, consumer expenditures and buying power, as well as public data sources such as the US Census, American Community Survey, FBI uniform crime reports, NOAA climate data, and CDC health data.
Limited to 5 simultaneous users. "Sign in as a guest" if you do not wish to register for a free personal account. A personal account allows you to save your work.
- Nielsen Media RatingsNielsen is a major provider of audience and market data. The Libraries do not subscribe to any of their products, however information about Top 10 TV Ratings is available online at no charge. You may also find articles in EBSCO Megafile that references Nielsen Media Reports.
- Media Intelligence CenterService from the Alliance for Audited Media that tracks circulation, data for newspapers, consumer magazines, business publications and farm publications from the US, Canada, and other countries. Includes audit circulation statistics for online editions.
- Simmons InsightsSurvey data from the the Simmons National Consumer Survey to find target markets and consumer profiles for brands and products. Use Simmons advertising campaigns, market research, and business plans. Limited to 25 simultaneous users. NOTE: Please click logout when done to end session.
Communicate your research
- How to Write Technical Reports: Understandable Structure, Good Design, Convincing Presentation
Hering, L., & Hering, H. (2019). How to write technical reports: Understandable structure, good design, convincing presentation. Heidelberg: Springer.
- The top 3 business writing mistakes you're probably making right now
Josephson, D. (2013). The top 3 business writing mistakes you're probably making right now. Canadian Manager, 37(4), 9.
- Business Writing on the Go
Caron, André H., et al. "Business Writing on the Go." Corporate Communications 18.1 (2013): 8-25. ProQuest. Web
- Chambers, K., & NetLibrary, Inc. (2008). The entrepreneur's guide to writing business plans and proposals (Entrepreneur's guide (Praeger)). Westport, Conn.: Praeger.
- Purdue OWL: Professional, Technical Writing
These OWL resources will help you conduct research and compose documents for the workplace, such as memoranda and business letters.
- Society for Technical Communiation
STC is a professional association dedicated to the advancement of technical communication, content and information management via technical processes.
- TechWhirl: What is Technical Writing?
Provides an in-depth definition of "technical writing", with examples, resources, and related information.
Explore sample ebooks
- Strategic Communication for Organizations byISBN: 0520970608Publication Date: 2020-02-11Strategic Communication for Organizations elucidates the emerging research on strategic communication, particularly as it operates in a variety of organizational settings. This book, appropriate for both students and practitioners, emphasizes how theory and research from the field of communication studies can be used to support and advance organizations of all types across a variety of business sectors. Grounded in scholarship and organizational cases, this textbook: focuses on message design provides introductory yet comprehensive coverage of how strategy and message design enable effective organizational and corporate communication explores how theory and research can be synthesized to inform modern communication-based campaigns.
- Strategic employee communication : building a culture of engagement byISBN: 9783319978949Publication Date: 2019Employee engagement (or a lack thereof) can often be linked to poor communication and a detachment from company goals. Companies of all sizes are looking for ways to boost communication, recognizing its impact on key business outcomes, such as productivity and profitability. This book offers fresh insights about opportunities to improve the quality of employee communications based on employees' needs. It highlights the importance of simple, jargon-free communication that focuses on dialogue and content.
Technical writing blogs
- The Content Wrangler
Scott Abel is The Content Wrangler
- I'd Rather Be Writing
"I'd Rather Be Writing" is a reference to the fact that tech writers do little "writing" these days, and a lot more wrangling with technology. By Tom Johnson.
- Future Changes | Grow Your Wiki
A blog by Stewart Mader. His focus is on technology, especially wikis.
Techwr-L is an Internet-based community and resource for technical communicators worldwide. The Techwr-L blog is a good general technical writing blog.
A technical Writing Blog maintained by Craig Haiss, a technical writer in the financial software industry.
- The Technical Writer Blog: Helping others to write quality technical communication and documentation
This is a blog maintained by a technical writer in Canada.
- ffeathers—a technical writer's blog
This is a blog about technical writing by Sarah Maddox, a technical writer.
This is a blog and Web site by writer Anne Gentle.
- The Agile Technical Writer: Technical writing and Agile methodology blog
A blog maintained by Diana Ost that includes interesting stories about her experiences as an Agile technical writer.
- UAX (User Assistance Experience): Explorations of how we deliver information to users
A blog maintained by Michael Hughes that focuses on designing user interfaces that accommodate the user as learner.
- Technical Communication Center
Technical Writing & Communication Tips, Trends & Tutorials by Ugur Akinci, Ph.D.
- Google Reader
Use Google Reader to aggregate your favorite blogs and RSS feeds into one place.
Technical writing podcasts
- I'd Rather Be Writing
A podcast about the latest trends and practices in technical communication.
- Writing Bites
Bite sized writing tips. 5 minutes, 5 tips, with a focus on business writing. From Confident Writing Coach Joanna Young.
- COMM-330 Texas A&M University
A non-technical survey about how modern technologies affect human communication.
Technical report indexes
- NTRL: National Technical Reports Library
NTIS is the more familiar name. Indexing, often with full-text, of technical reports. Many of these are reports sponsored by agencies of the U.S. federal government but coverage is broad. Indexing of about 3 million titles, with coverage back to the early 1900s.
Searches publicly-available grey literature from governmental and academic servers throughout the world.
- National Environmental Publications
Offers a searchable database of full text documents published online by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Science.gov searches over 60 databases and over 2,200 scientific websites to provide users with access to more than 200 million pages of authoritative federal science information including research and development results.
WorldWideScience.org is a global science gateway comprised of national and international scientific databases and portals.
TRAIL (Technical Report Archive and Image Library)
Digitized archive of U.S. federal technical reports issued prior to 1975.
Helpful things to know
- Assignment CalculatorEnter in the due date for your research project (paper, speech, lab report) and get a suggested time-line for completing with links to the resources to help you succeed in each step.
- Chat 24/7 online with the LibrariesAsk us anything! Chat with a librarian, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with any research or library questions.
- Citation Managers (e.g. Zotero, EndNote Online, etc.)Citation managers are software packages used to create personalized databases of citation information and notes. They allow you to: import and organize citation information from article indexes and other sources; save links to pdfs and other documents; format citations for your papers and bibliographies using APA and many other styles; and include your own notes.
- Center for WritingThey take walk-ins, and both in-person and online appointments. Also find online quick help and resources for writers on the writing process, common assignments, grammar, punctuation, style and more. Put the polishing touches on your work.
- Peer Research ConsultantsMake an online 30 minute appointment for one-on-one peer assistance with your research. Get help with researching your topic, finding sources, citing sources and more. Peer Research Consultants can also help you get started with faculty-sponsored research.
- Study SpacesMake group work easier by reserving a library study space.
- Library workshopsLearn something new at a library workshop! Register for everything from using citation managers to finding grant funding.
Wellness resources: Taking Care of U
There are resources all over campus to support you as you navigate student life:
- Student Counseling Services: They promote student success by helping you with: mental health and life concerns, learning and academic skills challenges, career uncertainty, faculty/staff to student communication, and more!
- Boynton Mental Health: They support mental health through counseling services, medication management, and crisis care.
- Learn to Live: This platform offers therapy in five targeted areas: Social Anxiety, Depression Program, our Insomnia, Substance Use, and Stress, Anxiety and Worry.
- Let's Talk: These are informal virtual and in person drop-in consultations for students throughout the academic year. No appointment is necessary and find out more about counseling options.
- Nutritious U Food Pantry: They provides fresh and healthy food to students that struggle to get enough to eat. Any student can visit the food pantry, no proof of need is needed.
- RecWell: Campus exercise and fitness facilities, classes and more. Studies show that working out can reduce stress and improve your mental health. Physical health is very important!
- Pet Away Worry and Stress: (PAWS): Hang out with some of our furry and feathered friends, offered weekly this semester!