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Department of Computer & Information Sciences

Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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Umar Faiz Lecture#03 - Characteristics of Technical Writing


Characteristics of Technical Writing
2

1. Pertains to a Technical
Subject
Technical writing must pertain
to some subject area such as
the following:
o Philosophy, psychology, and
religion
o History, Geography and
anthropology
o Social sciences
o Law and political science
o Education
o Fine arts
o Language and literature
o Science and technology
o Agriculture, health and medicine
Characteristics of Technical Writing
3

2. Has A Goal
The goal of a technical report
is the overall reason for doing
the work.
o For example, in an industrial
situation, the objective of any
work is usually to make or
increase profits.
Characteristics of Technical Writing
4

3. Has A Purpose
A technical document always
is written for a reason, and
the purpose of reports may
be to
o Explain what was done
o Why it was done
The purpose of reports and
papers should also be clearly
stated.
Characteristics of Technical Writing
5

4. Conveys
Information/Facts/ Data
Technical writing should have
substance in every statement.
A report without facts or
scientific evidence to support
an opinion also lacks
credibility.
The use of data and factual
information makes the work a
technical report.
Characteristics of Technical Writing
6

5. It is Concise
A sentence is always harder to read and understand than a simple
declarative sentence. Sentences are like baggage. Only carry what you
need and not a bit more.
Make Sure to Use
Simple words
Clear sentences
Coherent paragraphs

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Characteristics of Technical Writing
7

6. Has Clarity
It is essential that the technical
writer understands the
reader's background and
needs.
Making the documentation too
technical can confuse the
reader. The document is
meaningless if the intended
audience does not understand
what the writer wants to
communicate.

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Characteristics of Technical Writing
8

6. Has Clarity
Watch out for
o Acronyms, abbreviations, and
jargon
o Slangs and foreign words
o Biased language
Characteristics of Technical Writing
9

7. Has Accuracy
Accuracy is an important
characteristic of any technical
document.
A slight mistake can have
grave consequences.
o For instance, if you forget to
mention some important
features of a new mobile
phone, the customers may think
that there is nothing special in
that phone and will not prefer
to buy it.
Attributes of Technical Writing
10

8. Timeliness
Timeliness is very important
for a report on a problem or
investigation.
Problems are a big part of
any industry or business, and
most engineers spend a
significant portion of their
career solving problems.
State the outcome in your own
words and provide them in
documentation in a timely
way.
Characteristics of Technical Writing
11

9. Active Language
Action coupled with a direct
statement is at the heart of
effective technical writing.
Strong, active verbs give your
writing energy and power
that add interest and
understanding to the message.
Verbs express either action or
state of being. Action verbs
convey movement and energy.

Source: watanafghanistan.tumblr.com 11
Characteristics of Technical Writing
12

9. Active Language
Action verbs can describe
events in either an active voice
or a passive voice.
In the active voice, the subject
of the sentence names the
entity that performed the
action. Sentences in the active
voice have a direct subject-
verb-object structure.
In the passive voice, the subject
names the entity that was acted
upon Sentences in the passive
voice have an indirect structure:
the object, a helping form of
the verb to be, and the past
participle of the action verb.
Characteristics of Technical Writing
13

9. Active Language
Passive language tends to In passive writing, the subject is
weaken your writing, confuse either missing or is having
your readers, and make your something "done to it" rather
sentences longer. than taking action. Examples:
In contrast, active language The report has been submitted.
focuses your readers attention The meeting was interrupted by
and increases the impact of several latecomers.
your message. In active writing, the subject is
Active sentences are shorter, "doing something" or "being
more efficient, and more something" and the subject is
powerful than passive clearly identified.
sentences. Our division submitted the
report.
Several latecomers interrupted
the meeting.
Characteristics of Technical Writing
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9. Active Language
Passive Voice
1. All Engineering Change Active Voice
Notices must be approved by 1. The engineering manager
the engineering manager. must approve all Engineering
2. Antiseptic content was not Change Notices.
properly analyzed by our 2. Our satellite lab improperly
satellite lab. analyzed antiseptic content.
3. Excessive engine wear is also 3. Low compression readings
characterized by low also characterize excessive
compression readings. engine wear.
4. The faulty valve was quickly 4. The emergency maintenance
found by the emergency crew quickly found the faulty
maintenance crew. valve.
References
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Successful Writing at Work, Philip C. Kolin, Concise 3/E, WADSWORTH Cengage


Learning, 2012.
Successful Writing at Work, Philip C. Kolin, 9/E, WADSWORTH Cengage
Learning, 2010.
How to Write Technical Reports, Lutz Hering, Heike Hering, Springer, 2010.
Writing and Designing Manuals and Warnings, Patricia A. Robinson, 4/E, CRC
Press NY, 2009.
A guide to Writing as an Engineer, David Beer, 3/E, John Wiley and Sons, 2009.
Writing a Report, 8/E, John Bowden, HowToBooks, 2008.
Technical Writing for Success, Darlene Smith-Worthington and Sue Jefferson, 3/E,
WADSWORTH Cengage Learning.
Engineers Guide to Technical Writing, Kenneth G. Budinski.
Writing for the Technica Professions, Kristin R. Woolever, 4/E, Pearson Educatin,
2008.
The Writing Experiment: Strategies for innovative creative writing, Hazel Smith,
Allen & Unwin, 2005.
Science and Technical Writing: A Manual of Style, Philip Rubens, Routledge 2001.