Copywriting versus Technical Writing–Or, the Not-So Bitter Battle Between Kiwis and Potatoes

Comparing copywriting and technical writing is like comparing kiwis and potatoes, right? One is fuzzy, tropical, and sweet—and the other is an underground tuber associated with European famine. But, is the difference between copywriting and technical writing really this drastic?

KiwiAs both a copywriter and a technical writer, I don’t think so. Copywriting traditionally relates to marketing activities. Think direct mail, advertisements, press releases, and brochures. On the other hand, technical writing typically provides “how-to” or “need-to-know” information in the form of manuals, instructions, proposals, progress reports, etc.

Many projects span both categories. For example, white papers share concrete information on a specific business or technical topic. However, since white papers are published by companies to attract the attention of other companies, there is also a subtle undercurrent of persuasion.

Case studies are similar to white papers but are shorter and usually document a client’s success with a specific product or service. Case studies use more overt marketing language than white papers while still accurately reflecting the client’s experience.

Other types of content that can mix copywriting and technical writing include:

  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Newsletters
  • Trade magazine articles
  • Speeches
  • Video scripts
  • Product or service descriptions

And the list goes on and on… Now, who’s up for a kiwi potato salad?

 

Erin Wright is a freelance writer and editor in Chicago, Illinois. She specializes in business documents, copywriting, marketing collateral, blogs, web copy, and instructional content.

Comments

  1. Interesting, Erin. Thank you!
    -R.T. Wolfe

  2. I agree. Whatever type of writing you, a template exists for it. Whether it’s an SOP, a lift letter, or a haiku, you can learn the form and write it. You might not have as easy a time at it as someone who has been working in that area for years; on the other hand, with new eyes, you might do better.

    I think people often fall into a type of writing that lets them pay the bills. While there might be other types of writing they’d like to try, unless there’s a real internal compulsion, most folks go with the money. Nothing wrong with that.

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