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Characteristics of Technical Writing Description of Characteristic Understanding Why You are Writing (Purpose) Is the purpose of writing… • To inform

: to provide information without expecting any action on the part of the reader? • To instruct: to give information in the form of directions, instructions, procedures, so that readers will be able to do something? • To propose: to respond to a request for proposals (RFP) or to suggest a plan of action for a specific problem? • To recommend: to suggest an action or series of actions based on alternative possibilities that have been evaluated? • To persuade: to convince readers to take action, to change their attitudes or behaviors based on valid opinions and evidence? Writing for theAudience Since the goal of technical writing is information transfer (sending a clear, noisefree message), what you say and how you say it depends on the audience. The nature of the audience determines the level of technical detail, the amount of ―context/background‖ information you provide, and the organization of the document. It is important to understand who is reading the document so that the information you convey is transferred effectively. As a writer, it is crucial to have an awareness of the reader’s knowledge, ability level, and interest in the information being conveyed. Satisfying Document Specifications (Genre/Type of Document) Document specifications include… • Adherence to document type (genre)--understanding what is expected in an email vs. a memo, knowing the difference between a proposal and a recommendation report, and understanding how to write up the results of an experiment vs. the conclusions; • Format--many document types specify a specific format be followed, for example, various professional journals and government documents require specified --font --margins --labeling for figures and graphics --line and paragraph spacing --number of words per document or per section --section headings and subheadings Providing AccurateInformation Being truthful and accurate are the cornerstones of technical writing. Technical writing is rarely about opinion. Technical and scientific writing is grounded in fact. It always wrong and unethical to falsify information and data, and that is particularly true in technical writing. Providing inaccurate or wrong information causes readers to question your credibility and reliability. It is important to always report the facts about a particular experiment, even if those facts are not what were expected or desired. Organizing Information Logicallyand Linearly In general, technical writing is organized in a direct, linear format. ALL technical

documents have a clear • Introduction: this is where you provide motivation and context/background for the topic/material/information being presented in the document; always provide the ―big picture‖ before jumping into the technical details • Body: this is where the information is expounded upon and where technical details are given • Conclusion: this is where the main points are reemphasized and where the ―big picture‖ is once again discussed Expressing Information Clearly While you may be able to say the same thing in a variety of ways, being clear and direct are the most important characteristics of technical writing. Expressing information clearly is crucial; you NEVER want to make your reader work harder than necessary to understand the message/idea/information you are conveying. Sentences must have a single meaning with no room for ambiguity. Technical writing should be direct, not suspenseful. Technical writing is not the place for poetic language and innuendo. Using Efficient Wording Economy is the name of the game when it comes to technical writing. Technical documents should be clear and concise, never wordy and flowery. Always choose words and phrases that are simple and straightforward. Verbiage Efficient commence start endeavor try a large number of many in the majority of instances usually the reason why is that because alternate choices alternatives completely eliminate eliminate connected together connected an analysis of the data will be made data will be analyzed made a selection selected MakingIdeas/Information Accessible One of the first things you will notice about technical documents is the page layout and organizational structure. Technical writing is known for its use of headings and subheadings and for the way information is made easily accessible by grouping material into ―chunks.‖ Paragraphs are usually much shorter in technical writing than in other types of writing. Pages full of text only and long paragraphs are discouraging to readers. Readers want to be able to quickly access information, and the best way to help them find the info they need is to provide them with visual cues such as descriptive headings, and to make use of numbered lists and bulleted items. Anytime you can make information visual by creating figures and graphics, try to do so. Figures and tables provide visual relief from all of the text on the page and help the reader to access important data. Eliminating ―Noise‖ Nothing is more irritating to a reader than sorting through misspellings, poorly written sentences, typos, and punctuation problems. Errors such as these make the writer look uneducated and unprofessional. Careful editing and proofreading are essential steps in the writing process! Be sure you know the basic rules for using • Commas • Colons • Semicolons • Hyphens • Acronyms (RAM, NASA, GPA) • Numbers (writing the word vs. using the numeral) • Equations (use symbols) • Units of Measure (70 ns, 100 dB)—use abbreviations and symbolsUsing Appropriate

Writing Style Technical writing tends to be rather ―dry.‖ This is because, compared to other types of writing, the purpose of technical writing is to inform rather than to entertain. Engineers and scientists are called upon to record and document information in an objective manner, and in doing so, the style of writing reflects this objective approach. • Avoid Personal Pronouns: for most documents, it is unnecessary to use ―I,‖ ―we,‖ ―us,‖ and especially ―you.‖ Instead of saying, ―I (or we) took measurements,‖ it is acceptable to say, ―Measurements were taken.‖ • Passive Voice is OK: while active voice is preferred in most cases, it is completely acceptable to use passive voice in technical writing. --Passive Control of the flow is provided by a DJ-12 valve. --Active A DJ-12 valve controls the flow. --Passive An ASM chart is shown in Figure 3. --Active Figure 3 shows an ASM chart. • Avoid Conversational Tone: technical documents (including most emails) should employ a formal writing style. Conversational language and phrasing should be avoided. --Conversational This lab gave us a good feel for state machines. --Formal This exercise provided a good background on state machine design. --Conversational The D-flip flop was hooked up to the board. --Formal The D-flip flop was connected to the board for testing Clarity Technical document must convey a single meaning that the reader can understand. Unclear Technical writing is expensive. They vital communication link among the various employees is usually the report, if this link is weak, the entire project may be jeopardized. Unclear technical writing can be dangerous e.g. unclear instruction on how to operate machinery. 2. Accuracy Unclear writing can cause many problems and even inaccuracy in the report. If you mean to write 40,000 don’t write 400,000. If you mean to refer to fig 3.1 don’t refer to fig 3.2. Slightest error can confuse or even annoy the reader of the report. If the reader suspects that you are slanting information they have the right to doubt the entire document. 3. Comprehensiveness: When writing technically, all the information should be provided, its background must be described and clear description of any process, or method of carrying out a specific work, should also be given. It also includes results, conclusions and recommendations. 4. Accessibility: It means the ease with which the readers can locate the information they seek. To increase Accessibility, include headings and lists in the report. A table of contents, list of illustrations glossary and index are preferred.

5. Conciseness: Technical writing is meant to be useful. The longer a document is, the more difficult it gets to use it. Even it takes more of the user's time. Conciseness works against clarity and comprehensiveness. Solution to this conflict is to create a balance between the requirements of clarity, conciseness and comprehensiveness. In short, in T.W every aspect of the subject is discussed in optimized detail. Document must be long enough to be clear. It must give the audience purpose and object but no extra details. Technical writing can be shortened 10-20% by eliminating unnecessary phrases and choosing short words and sentences. Concise: In order for the consumer to utilize the document, it must be condensed into a manageable size. The fewer steps the better, and the shorter each step is, the better. The writer must find the proper balance, making sure it is brief enough to be manageable but still outlines every necessary step or detail. There is no benefit in providing too much information, or too manydetails. If you do so, you run the risk of confusing your reader, orworse having the focus on less important supporting details. If youhave supporting tables or reference documents, put them in an ap-pendix. Keep the main message clear and concise. While being concise is a virtue in technical writing, being incom-plete is not. The consequences of leaving out critical data can bequite severe. It is important to make sure you have included all therelevant and necessary material.

6. Correctness Qualities of technical report writing also includes correctnes. Good technical report must also be correct. It. Must be free from grammatical errors, punctuation mistakes, and should have appropriate format standard. If a report contains grammatical errors, the reader will doubt the accuracy of the information in the report. Technical writing is meant to convey information and to persuade the audience. To accomplish these goals it must be clear auccurate, easy to access and must be economical and correct. If you mean to write "the three persons: person 1, person 2 and person 3 attended a session" but you use commas instead of the colon, your readers might think 6 people attended the session, not 3. Accuracy One of the essential characteristics of technical writing is maintaining accuracy. If you are writing a review of a newly launched Nokia mobile phone and you miss on one important detail, this will convey the customers that there is nothing special about this product and they would buy another mobile phone instead. Technical writing requires that the information you provide is based on accuracy and quality content. Clarity Write the technical document in a layman’s tone so that the customers who are not really techie fans are also able to understand what the product is all about. Try cutting down on the use of jargons because again, this is going to confuse the customers. Keep your language and expression simple and meaningful. Use of complicated words may put the readers in a quandary.

Descriptiveness Be as descriptive in distinguishing the technical product as you can. More than half of the customers come from a non technical background and they need to have sufficient details otherwise they will not be able to picture the product correctly. If you are creating a manual for an electronic product which explains how to operate it, make sure you cover every aspect of its functioning. Correctness The grammatical structure of your technical document should be correct and free from any kind of ambiguities. The intended meaning will not be communicated to the reader if the document has ambiguous sentences. The reader is sure to get annoyed, if your document is replete with misspellings and incorrect construction of sentences. Hence, apart from providing correct technical information, ensure that the data is grammatically correct. ncorrect grammar, syntax and punctuation will degrade yourtechnical document by damaging the ethos, and by distracting yourreader. It is vital to maintain an ethos of technical competency,which applies to the mechanics of writing and document construc-tion, as well as to the actual task that your paper addresses. Be sureto proofread carefully. It is often useful to have a second set of eyesreview it for errors and for final formatting, particularly if thedocument provides instructions or proposes a project or sale. Well organized Make sure that you arrange your document in a logical way thatconforms to the expectations of your audience and/or conventions.A well–organized document has all the information the readerneeds at his or her fingertips, and he or she can locate the pieces sheneeds at a moment ’ s notice. If you take the time to organize yourdocument, you will find that it is more effective because the keydetails are in the forefront in the reader ’ s mind. You are more likelyto persuade the reader to act and to follow your recommendations.