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Technical Writing

Technical Writing

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Published by Doods Galdo

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Published by: Doods Galdo on Aug 23, 2010
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Chapter 1About Technical Communications and Technical-Writing Courses
 Technical-writing courses introduce you to some of the most important aspects of writing in the world of science, technology, and business—in other words, the kind of writingthat scientists, nurses, doctors, computer specialists, government officials, engineers, andother such people do as a part of their regular work. To learn how to write effectively for the world of work, you'll study common types of reports, special format items such as lists and headings, simple techniques for puttinggraphics into reports, and some techniques for producing professional-looking final copy. Technical-writing courses build on what you've learned in other writing courses. Butthere's lots that is new to learn! If you currently have a job in which you do some writing,you'll discover that you can put what you learn in your technical-writing course to immediateuse.
About Technical Writing
 You're probably wondering what this "technical writing thing" is. Someone may evenhave told you, "it's this course where they make you write about rocket science and brainsurgery." Well, not really . . . . Actually, the field of technical communications is a fullyprofessional field with degree programs, certifications, and—yes!—even theory. It's a goodfield with a lot of growth and income potential; and an introductory technical-writing coursefor which this book has been developed is a good way to start if you are interested in acareer in this field.However, the focus for technical-writing courses is not necessarily career as atechnical writer but an introduction to the kinds of writing skills you need in practically anytechnically oriented professional job. No matter what sort of professional work you do,you're likely to do lots of writing—and much of it technical in nature. The more you knowabout some basic technical-writing skills, which are covered in this guide and in technical-writing courses, the better job of writing you're likely to do. And that will be good for theprojects you work on, for the organizations you work in, and—most of all—good for you andyour career. Technical communications—or technical writing, as the course is often called—is notwriting about a specific technical topic such as computers, but about any technical topic. The term "technical" refers to knowledge that is not widespread, that is more the territory of experts and specialists. Whatever your major is, you are developing an expertise—you arebecoming a specialist in a particular technical area. And whenever you try to write or sayanything about your field, you are engaged in technical communications.Another key part of the definition of technical communications is the receiver of theinformation—the audience. Technical communications is the delivery of technicalinformation to readers (or listeners or viewers) in a manner that is adapted to their needs,level of understanding, and background. In fact, this audience element is so important that itis one of the cornerstones of this course: you are challenged to write about highly technicalsubjects but in a way that a beginner—a nonspecialist—could understand. This ability to"translate" technical information to nonspecialists is a key skill to any technical
 
 Technical Writing and Communications 2
communicator. In a world of rapid technological development, people are constantly fallingbehind and becoming technological illiterates. Technology companies are constantlystruggling to find effective ways to help customers or potential customers understand theadvantages or the operation of their new products.So relax! You don't have to write about computers or rocket science—write about thearea of technical specialization you know or are learning about. And plan to write about it insuch a way that even Grand Dad can understand!
 
 Technical Writing and Communications 3
Chapter 2Common Grammar, Usage, and Spelling Problems
Punctuation: Commas
Punctuation is a good example of this effort to use clearly defined rules in technical writing.In journalistic punctuation style, you punctuate according to what you feel are the needs forclarity. But this is likely to be viewed differently by different people. Therefore, punctuationstyle in technical writing is based on the
structure
of the sentence.
Use a comma after all introductory elements.
 
 Any 
element, regardless of the length,coming before the main clause should be punctuated with a comma. (The main clause isthat core part of a sentence that makes it a complete sentence; that is, it expresses acomplete thought.) Here are some examples:
When an atom acquires enough energy to leave its orbit 
, theatom is positively charged. 
 As for the energy required to produce plastic automobile parts
,the auto makers view the additional cost as justified by the savings inpetroleum by a lighter car during its lifetime. 
Because the high-pressure turbopumps rotate at speeds of 30,000rpm
, the weight distribution on the turbine blades must be balancedwith great accuracy. 
Because there is no belt of doldrums in the Atlantic south of theequator 
, hurricanes do not usually occur there. 
Between 40 and 50 degrees west and just south of 10 degrees northin the western end of the doldrums belt 
, calms do occur withfrequency, and hurricanes originate there with great frequency. 
In 1831
, Michael Faraday discovered that if a magnet was movedin the vicinity of a coil, a current could be induced in the coil. 
(Punctuate even short introductory phrases like this and the next two sentences.)
 
Using this concept 
, Faraday arrived at a relation between thechanging flux and the induced electromagnetic field. 
Today 
, the computer consortium of IBM, Mototrola, and Apple isannouncing its new PowerPC chip.
Doublecheck commas between the parts of a sentence.
A single comma should neverbreak the flow of the main subject, verb, and object or complement of a sentence. Instead,commas should occur in pairs. Here are some examples (the bracketed commas indicatedwhere commas are typically but mistakenly placed): The discovery that moving a magnet within a coil could produce

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