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technical writing


technical writing

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


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

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  • "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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