The increasingly large number of available writings describing technical and scientific progress, calls for advanced analytic tools for their efficient analysis. This is true for many application scenarios in science and industry and for different types of writings, comprising patents and scientific articles. Despite important differences between patents and scientific articles, both have a variety of common characteristics that lead to similar search and analysis tasks. However, the analysis and visualization of these documents is not a trivial task due to the complexity of the documents as well as the large number of possible relations between their multivariate attributes. In this survey, we review interactive analysis and visualization approaches of patents and scientific articles, ranging from exploration tools to sophisticated mining methods. In a bottom-up approach, we categorize them according to two aspects: (a) data type (text, citations, authors, metadata, and combinations thereof), and (b) task (finding and comparing single entities, seeking elementary relations, finding complex patterns, and in particular temporal patterns, and investigating connections between multiple behaviours). Finally, we identify challenges and research directions in this area that ask for future investigations.