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Technical Writing


Technical Writing Definition Goals Writing Process * * * * * * * The Secretary s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) was a 2 year study that focused on ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Technical Writing

Technical Writing
  • Definition
  • Goals
  • Writing Process

Technical Writing AKA
  • Business Writing
  • Workplace Writing
  • Professional Writing
  • Informational Writing

GPS Technical Writing
  • ELA7W2 The student demonstrates competence in a
    variety of genres.
  • c. Creates an organizing structure appropriate to
    purpose, audience, and context.
  • D. Develops the topic with supporting details.

GPS Technical Writing
  • The student produces technical writing (business
    correspondence memoranda, emails, letters of
    inquiry, letters of complaint, instructions and
    procedures, lab reports, slide presentations)
  • a. Creates or follows an organizing structure
    appropriate to purpose, audience,
  • and context.
  • b. Excludes extraneous and inappropriate
  • c. Follows an organizational pattern appropriate
    to the type of composition.
  • d. Applies rules of Standard English.

Essential Questions
  • How does technical writing in school prepare
    students for adult living, learning, and work
  • How does technical writing compare to academic
  • How does technical writing reflect 21st century
    learning and engage 21st century learners?

Goal of technical writing
  • Is to enable readers to use a technology or
    understand a process or concept. Because the
    subject matter is more important than the
    writers voice, technical writing style uses an
    object, not a subjective, tone. The writing style
    is direct and utilitarian, emphasizing exactness
    and clarity rather than elegance or
    allusiveness. (Gerald J. Alred, et al., Handbook
    of Technical Writing. Bedford/St. Martins 2006)

Definition/Purpose of Course
  • Technical communication is the art and science
    of making complex technical information
    accessible, usable, and relevant to a variety of
    audiences in a variety of settings.
  • Review of the planning, drafting, and editing
  • Interaction with new technologies and new

What is Technical Writing?
  • Technical writing introduces you to some of the
    most important aspects of writing in the world of
    science, technology, and business the kind of
    writing that scientists, nurses, doctors,
    computer specialists, government officials,
    engineers, and other people do as a
    part of their regular work.

What is Technical Writing?
  • 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, and whenever you try to write anything
    about your field, you are engaged in technical

What is Technical Writing?
  • Technical communication can be written, oral, or
  • Technical writing is composed in and for the
  • Technical writing is a significant factor in work
    experience for a variety of reasons.
  • Technical writing serves valuable purposes in the
    workplace and often involves teamwork.

What is the purpose of technical writing?
  • Technical writing is the delivery of technical
    information to readers in a manner that is
    adapted to their needs, level of understanding,
    and background.
  • Technical writing is intended to communicate to a
    specific audience, for a specific purpose.

What is Technical Writing?
It is the type of everyday writing that surrounds
us from the time we wake until we climb in bed at
  • Directions on the toothpaste tube
  • Nutrition benefits on the cereal box
  • Business letters and catalogs that come in the
  • Written instructions for assembling a new
  • Tax receipts and notices
  • Product safety information

How is Technical Writing Different?
  • The information is organized, presented and
    communicated in a specific format.
  • The writing is concise, clear and accurate.
  • The writing takes into account the audiences
    needs, biases and prior understanding.
  • The writing presents information to help readers
    solve a problem or gain a better understanding of
    a situation.
  • The writing conveys technical, complex, or
    specialized information in a way that is easy for
    a non-technical reader to understand.

The Audience
  • The audience element is so important that it is
    one of the cornerstones of technical writing.
  • You are challenged to write about highly
    technical subjects but in a way that a beginnera
    non-specialistcould understand.

  • Accuracy no errors of fact or grammar
  • Clarity no ambiguity
  • Completeness all necessary information is
  • Dictionappropriate and grammatically correct
  • Organizationlogical arrangement of parts
  • Visual effectiveness page/screen design,

  • Allows audience to perform the task or retrieve
    the information they need
  • Studies design of table of contents, index,
    headings, etc.
  • Keeps learning curve short

  • Focus on your audiences need for information.
  • Give only whats needed.
  • Use language that fits your audience and
    situation and is consistent.

Translating Technical Information
  • In a world of rapid technological development,
    people are constantly falling behind and becoming
    technological illiterates.
  • As a technical writer, you need to write about
    the area of specialization you know and plan to
    write about in such a way that even Granddad can

Goals of Effective Technical Writing
  • Clarity
  • Conciseness
  • Accuracy
  • Organization
  • Ethics

Tech Communicators Skills
  • Facility with language
  • Use of critical thinking skills to solve problems
  • Ability to assess situations, determine what the
    most important issues and the subsidiary ones
  • Ability to organize a document that presents the
    information clearly

Effective Technical Writing Clarity
  • The ultimate goal of effective technical writing
    is to say the same thing to every reader.
  • Lets say I write instructional manuals for
    company manufacturing space heaters. If I write,
  • Place the space heater near an open
  • what will this mean to thousands of customers
    who purchase the machine?

Effective Technical Writing Clarity
  • One person may place the heater 6 feet from the
  • Another reader will place the heater 6 inches
    from the window.
  • As the writer, I have failed to
    communicate clearly.

Effective Technical Writing Clarity
  • Specify
  • Provide specific detail
  • Avoid vague words (some, recently)
  • Answer reporters questions (who, what, where,
    when, why, how)

Effective Technical Writing Clarity
  • Avoid obscure words
  • Use easily understood words
  • Write to express, not to impress
  • Write to communicate, not to confuse
  • Write the way you speak
  • aforementioned already discussed
  • in lieu of instead of

Effective Technical Writing Clarity
  • Limit and/or define your use of abbreviations ,
    acronyms, and jargon.
  • Define your terms parenthetically
  • CIA (Cash in Advance)
  • or
  • Supply a separate glossary
  • Alphabetized list of terms, followed by their

Effective Technical Writing Clarity
  • Use the active versus the passive voice.
  • Passive voice
  • It was decided all employees will take a ten
    percent cut in pay.
  • Unclear Who decided?
  • Active The Board of Directors decided that all
    employees . . .
  • Overtime is favored by hourly workers.
  • Wordy
  • Active Hourly workers favor overtime.

Effective Technical Writing Conciseness
  • Limit paragraph, word, and sentence length.
  • A paragraph in a memo, letter, or short report
    should consist of
  • No more than four to six typed lines or
  • No more than fifty words.
  • Fog index (sixth to eighth grade level)
  • Strive for an average of 15 words per sentence
  • No more than 5 multisyllabic words per 100 words

Effective Technical Writing Conciseness
  • Avoid the expletive pattern
  • There is, are, was, were, will be
  • It is, was
  • There are three people who will work for Acme.
  • Three people will work for Acme.
  • Omit redundancies
  • During the year of 1996
  • During 1996

Effective Technical Writing Conciseness
  • Avoid wordy phrases
  • In order to purchase to purchase
  • Proofread for accuracy
  • Consider ethics

Effective Technical Writing Accuracy
  • The importance of correct grammar and mechanics
  • Grammatical or mechanical errors make writers
    look unprofessional and incompetent.

Effective Technical Writing Organization
  • Methods for organizing
  • Spatial
  • General to Specific
  • Chronological
  • Mechanism Description
  • Process Description
  • Classification

Effective Technical Writing Organization
  • Methods for organizing
  • Definition
  • Comparison/Contrast
  • More Important to Less Important
  • Situation-Problem-Solution-Evaluation
  • Cause-Effect

Effective Technical Writing Ethics
  • Ethics methods encouraging moral standards in
    technical writing
  • Practical
  • Legal
  • Moral

Effective Technical Writing Ethics
  • General categories of ethics in communication
  • Behavior towards colleagues, subordinates and
    others (plagiarism, harassment,
    malicious actions)
  • Dealing with experimental subjects, interviewees,
    etc. (informed consent)
  • Telling the truth (falsify data, misrepresent
  • Rhetoricchoosing your words (loaded words,
    discriminatory language, logical fallacies)

Effective Technical Writing Process
  • The writing process is effective . . . and easy.
  • All that you need to do is three things
  • Prewrite (about 25 percent of your time)
  • Write (about 25 percent of your time)
  • Rewrite (about 50 percent of your time)

Effective Technical Writing Prewriting Techniques
  • Reporters questions
  • Mind mapping
  • Brainstorming/listing
  • Flowcharting
  • Outlining
  • Storyboarding

So why is technical writing important?
SCANS Report
  • Three-Part Foundation needed on the job
  • Basic Skills (reads, writes, performs
    mathematical operations, listens and speaks)
  • Thinking Skills (Thinks creatively, makes
    decisions, solves problems, visualizes, knows how
    to learn, and reasons)
  • Personal Qualities (Displays responsibility,
    self-esteem, sociability, self-management, and
    integrity and honesty)

SCANS Report
  • Possessing basic writing skills means that
    students need to communicate thoughts, ideas,
    information, and messages in writing and create
    documents such as letters, directions, manuals,
    reports, graphs, and flow charts.

  • Society for Technical Communication
  • Technical Writing - A Dalton Organizing
  • Online Technical Writing Information
    Infrastructures Comparison
  • Online Technical Writing

Other Sources