technical writing definition goals writing process

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  • Slide 1
  • Technical Writing Definition Goals Writing Process
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  • 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.
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  • 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 writing.
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  • What is Technical Writing? Technical communication can be written, oral, or visual. Technical writing is composed in and for the workplace. 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.
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  • Importance of Teamwork Business and industry have expectations about the results of teamwork. Business management philosophies depend upon teamwork. Total Quality Management (TQM) and Six Sigma (continuous improvement) programs encourage efficient teamwork. Strategies for successful collaboration can improve outcomes.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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 understand.
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  • Goals of Effective Technical Writing Clarity Conciseness Accuracy Organization Ethics
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  • Effective Technical Writing: Clarity Methods for developing ideas precisely An expressive essay can clarify the writers intent through emotional, impressionistic, connotative words (soon, many, several, etc.). An impressionistic word such as near will mean different things to different people which is okay in in an essay where the goal may be to convey a feeling.
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  • 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 window, what will this mean to thousands of customers who purchase the machine?
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  • One person may place the heater 6 feet from the window. Another reader will place the heater 6 inches from the window. As the writer, I have failed to communicate clearly. Effective Technical Writing: Clarity
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  • Specify Provide specific detail Avoid vague words (some, recently) Answer reporters questions (who, what, where, when, why, how)
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  • 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
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  • 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 definitions
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  • 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.
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  • 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
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  • Effective Technical Writing: Conciseness Fog Index Count up to 100 words in successive sentences Divide words by number of sentences = average number of words per sentence Count number of long words (three or more syllables) within sentences Dont count proper names (Christopher Columbus), long words created by combining shorter words (chairperson), or three syllable words created by ed or es endings (united).
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  • Effective Technical Writing: Conciseness Use the meat cleaver theory of revision Cut the sentence in half or thirds Avoid shun words Avoid words ending in tion or sion Came to the conclusion concluded Avoid camouflaged words Make an amendment to amend
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  • 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
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  • Effective Technical Writing: Conciseness Avoid wordy phrases In order to purchase to purchase Proofread for accuracy Consider ethics
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  • Effective Technical Writing: Accuracy The importance of correct grammar and mechanics Grammatical or mechanical errors make writers look unprofessional and incompetent.
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  • Effective Technical Writing: Accuracy Grammar is so important in technical writing that in a one page assignment 4 major grammatical errors = F 3 major grammatical errors = D 2 major grammatical errors = C 1 major grammatical error = B A means excellent which is defined as without flaw
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  • Effective Technical Writing: Organization Methods for organizing Spatial General to Specific Chronological Mechanism Description Process Description Classification
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  • Effective Technical Writing: Organization Methods for organizing Definition Comparison/Contrast More Important to Less Important Situation-Problem-Solution- Evaluation Cause-Effect
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  • Effective Technical Writing: Ethics Ethics methods encouraging moral standards in technical writing Practical Legal Moral
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  • 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 facts) Rhetoricchoosing your words (loaded words, discriminatory language, logical fallacies)
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  • 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)
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  • Effective Technical Writing: Prewriting Techniques Reporters questions Mind mapping Brainstorming/listing Flowcharting Outlining Storyboarding
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  • Technical Writing Is important to success in business Lets you conduct business Takes time Costs the company Reflects your interpersonal communication skills Often involves teamwork
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  • Sources Society for Technical Communication Technical Writing - A Dalton: Organizing Technical Writing - A Dalton: Organizing Online Technical Writing: Information Infrastructures Comparison Online Technical Writing: Information Infrastructures Comparison Online Technical Writing


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