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technical writing

Handbook of Technical Writing, 9th ed., by Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu (St. Martin's Press, 2008)

Definition:

Written communications done on the job, especially in fields with specialized vocabularies, such as science, engineering, technology, and the health sciences.

See also:

Observations:

  • "The 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 writer's voice, technical writing style uses an objective, not a subjective, tone. The writing style is direct and utilitarian, emphasizing exactness and clarity rather than elegance or allusiveness. A technical writer uses figurative language only when a figure of speech would facilitate understanding."
    (Gerald J. Alred, et al., Handbook of Technical Writing. Bedford/St. Martin's, 2006)


  • Here are the main characteristics of technical writing:
    • Purpose: Getting something done within an organization (completing a project, persuading a customer, pleasing your boss, etc.)
    • Your knowledge of topic: Usually greater than that of the reader.
    • Audience: Often several people, with differing technical backgrounds.
    • Criteria for Evaluation: Clear and simple organization of ideas, in a format that meets the needs of busy readers.
    • Statistical and graphic support: Frequently used to explain existing conditions and to present alternative courses of action.
    (William Sanborn Pfeiffer, Technical Writing: A Practical Approach. Prentice Hall, 2003)
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