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Style in Technical Writing

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Overview of Style

Definition of Style

The features of one’s writing that show
its individuality – separating it from
the writing of others and shaping it to
fit the needs of particular situations

Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.

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Upper Saddle River.Writing Clear Sentences  Sentence Terms  The most important sentence parts are the…  Subject   the person doing the action or the thing being discussed Verb  the action or state of being Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. NJ 07458. 3 . All Rights Reserved.

4 . it was decided by the corporate staff that an additional lab should be constructed at the Cleveland location. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. All Rights Reserved.Writing Clear Sentences  Guidelines for Sentence Style  Place the Main Point Near the Beginning   Original: After reviewing the growth of the Cleveland office. NJ 07458. Revision: The corporate staff decided to build a new lab in Cleveland after reviewing the growth of the office there. Upper Saddle River.

5 . All Rights Reserved. and the committee had to reschedule the interview for tomorrow  Revision: The McDuff hiring committee had to change Jim Steinway’s interview from today to tomorrow because bad weather delayed his flight. NJ 07458. Upper Saddle River. but bad weather delayed his plane departure.Writing Clear Sentences  Guidelines for Sentence Style  Focus on One Main Clause in Each Sentence  Original: The McDuff hiring committee planned to interview Jim Steinway today. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education.

Writing Clear Sentences  Guidelines for Sentence Style  Vary Sentence Length but Seek an Average Length of 15 – 20 words Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. 6 . All Rights Reserved. Upper Saddle River. NJ 07458.

NJ 07458.Exercise Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. 7 . All Rights Reserved. Upper Saddle River.

2006. disposal. to the extent possible. Upper Saddle River. 8 . storage. based on available information from the city files and the criteria described in our proposal of June 18. All Rights Reserved. whether activities near the site may have involved the use.This study was conducted to identify. NJ 07458. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. or release of hazardous or potentially hazardous substances to the environment.

or release of hazardous or potentially hazardous substances to the environment.This study was conducted to identify. storage. NJ 07458. Upper Saddle River. storage. whether activities near the site may have involved the use. disposal. 2006. The study was based on available information from the city files and on criteria described in our June 18. All Rights Reserved. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. 1996 proposal. based on available information from the city files and the criteria described in our proposal of June 18. disposal. 9 . or release of hazardous or potentially hazardous substances to the environment.  This study was conducted to find out whether activities near the site involved the use. to the extent possible.

Concise: The contract was confirmed yesterday.like during the course of . Upper Saddle River.Being Concise  Replace Abstract Nouns with Verbs    Wordy: Confirmation of the contract occurred yesterday.during in the event that . All Rights Reserved. Shorten Wordy Phrases    along the lines of . 10 . NJ 07458.if Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education.

about modification . 11 . attempt Leave Out Clichés    last but not least step in the right direction skyrocketing costs Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education.try. NJ 07458.change undertake .Being Concise  Replace Long Words with Short Ones     approximately . All Rights Reserved. Upper Saddle River.

Direct: We suggest you complete the project before the monsoons begin. Upper Saddle River. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. 12 .Being Concise  Make Writing More Direct by Reading It Aloud   Indirect: We would like to suggest that you consider directing your attention toward completing the project before the commencement of the seasonal monsoon rains in the region of the project area. NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.

” “It is. Upper Saddle River. All Rights Reserved.” and Similar Constructions  Original: There are many McDuff projects that could be considered for design awards.Being Concise  Avoid “There Are.  Revision: Many McDuff projects could be considered for design awards. NJ 07458. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. 13 .

All Rights Reserved. 14 .Being Concise  Cut Out Extra Words   Original: During the course of its field work. the team will be engaged in the process of reviewing all of the notes that have been accumulated in previous studies. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. Upper Saddle River. NJ 07458. Revision: During its field work. the team will review all notes accumulated in previous studies.

NJ 07458. 15 . All Rights Reserved. Upper Saddle River.Being Accurate in Wording    Distinguish Facts from Opinions Include Obvious Qualifying Statements When Needed Use Absolute Words Carefully Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education.

In these modern times today. they met to prioritize their objectives. 16 . NJ 07458. there are new approaches that university students should take to the job search. Upper Saddle River. All Rights Reserved.Exercise    Prior to commencing the project. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. Documentation of the results of the lab test appeared in the final report.

Upper Saddle River.Prior to commencing the project. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. they met to prioritize their objectives.  They met to rank the objectives before starting the project. 17 . All Rights Reserved. NJ 07458.

18 .  The final report documented the results of the lab test. NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.Documentation of the results of the lab test appeared in the final report. Upper Saddle River. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education.

In these modern times today. university students should take new approaches to the job search. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. Upper Saddle River. 19 .  Today. NJ 07458. there are new approaches that university students should take to the job search. All Rights Reserved.

Using the Active Voice  What Active and Passive Mean?  Active-Voice   Emphasizes the person (or thing) performing the action Passive-Voice  Emphasizes the recipient of the action itself Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. NJ 07458. Upper Saddle River. 20 . All Rights Reserved.

21 . Upper Saddle River. All Rights Reserved. NJ 07458.Using the Active Voice  When Should Actives and Passives Be Used?  Use the active-voice when you want to…     Emphasize who is responsible for an action Stress the name of a company. whether yours or the reader’s Rewrite a top-heavy sentence so that the person or thing doing the action is up front Pare down the verbiage in your writing Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education.

Using the Active Voice  When Should Actives and Passives Be Used?  Use the passive-voice when you want to…    Emphasize the receiver of the action or the action itself rather than the person performing the action Avoid egocentric tones that result from repetitious use of “I. All Rights Reserved.” and the name of your company Break the monotony of writing that relies too heavily on active-voice sentences Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. 22 . NJ 07458.” “we. Upper Saddle River.

NJ 07458.Using Nonsexist Language  Sexism and Language  The use of wording.” to represent positions or individuals who could be either men or women Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. Upper Saddle River. especially masculine pronouns like “he” or “him. 23 . All Rights Reserved.

Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. each new employee must report to the company doctor for a physical.Using Nonsexist Language  Techniques for Nonsexist Language    Avoid Personal Pronouns Altogether Sexist: During his first day on the job. Nonsexist: During the first day on the job. NJ 07458. Upper Saddle River. any new employee must report to the company doctor for his employment physical. 24 . All Rights Reserved.

25 . Upper Saddle River. NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved.” and “Him or Her” Shift to Second-Person Pronouns Be Especially Careful of Titles and Letter Salutations Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education.” “Hers or His.Using Nonsexist Language  Techniques for Nonsexist Language       Avoid Personal Pronouns Altogether Use Plural Pronouns Instead of Singular Alternate Masculine and Feminine Pronouns Use Forms Like “He or She.

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Due to presence of a good deal of sand at the location. Upper Saddle River. The government at this point in time plans to discontinue its testing of every item but will undertake to implement testing again in approximately five months. 27 .     Rewrite the following sentences for better There is a reverse beeper on this model. Pfeiffer: Technical Communication © 2006 Pearson Education. The inspectors indicated that observation of the site occurred on July 16. evacuations are anticipated by us to be relatively unstable. All Rights Reserved. NJ 07458. A new engineer at Petronas receives his first promotion after about a year. which sounds understanding while the truck is backing. 2005.