Copywriting and technical writing compared

The difference in language style between copywriting and technical writing is large.

Technical writers create technical documents such as standard operating procedures, user guides, reference manuals, and white papers. Copywriters create marketing communications such as product brochures, poster advertisements, flyers, and leaflets.

The examples in this article show some basic differences between the texts that copywriters create and the texts that technical writers create. TechScribe creates technical documentation. For help with copywriting, see 'Marketing communications for software companies'.

Language style

The audiences and the purposes of the two types of writing are different. Therefore, the language styles must be different.

Marketing text does not need to be precise. Vague adjectives such as 'large', 'the best', 'cheaper', and 'wonderful' are suitable for marketing communications. However, with technical documents, accuracy and completeness is important. Technical text is precise:

Marketing communications must be persuasive. Therefore, elegant variations on a theme, synonyms, clich├ęs, clever plays on words, and idioms are usual. Technical texts do not contain such types of writing. Typically, the text is simple. A word is used with the same meaning in all parts of the text. Different words are not used for the same thing.

Structure

Technical documentation usually contains many headings and subheadings, but marketing literature does not.

Tables and charts are an excellent method of supplying technical information, and they are used frequently in technical documents. Usually, tables are not used in marketing copy. Sometimes, copywriters include charts in their documents. Frequently, those charts are used to make the text visually interesting, not to supply information. Sometimes, close inspection shows that important information (such as data values) is missing.

Marketing communications for software companies

Amanda Jane PR (www.amandajanepr.com) offers marketing and PR services to the software industry: media campaigns, printed publications, websites, and newsletters.

AMC (http://redamc.com) offers PR, marketing, and market research for software companies. Companies such as Sybase, NetIQ, 1E, and Inclarity plc have all benefited from AMC's skills in software marcomms.

Chamaeleon Marketing Communications (http://itcopy.com) specialises in copywriting for technology companies. David Rosam wrote the highest pulling direct marketing piece of the Windows 95 launch, helped launch SAP into e-commerce, and solved Hewlett Packard's sales force communication challenges.

Derek Harris (www.harriscomms.com) offers media relations: strategy, messaging, media targeting, case studies, and press releases. His customers include software suppliers in data management, project management, software development, marketing campaign solutions, and computer-based training.

See also

Technical writers: artists or language engineers?

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