2 Objectives You need to be able to: Know differences between academic and technical writing.Identify the characteristics of effective technical writing.Identify the steps in the writing process.Identify the components of good design.Identify the steps in organizing and writing instructions.Identify some tips to help your documents.
3 Academic vs. Technical Writing Purpose:Knowledge of Topic:Audience:Criteria for Evaluation:AcademicDemonstrate what you know about a topicLess than teacher who is evaluating themTeacherDepth, logic, clarity, unity and grammarTechnicalGetting something doneMore than the readerSeveral PeopleClear and simple organization of ideas
4 What is Technical Writing? “Technical writing is the art, craft, practice, or problem of translating that which is logical into that which is grammatical. Technical writing forms a bridge between the logical (the primarily binary concepts understood by computers, robots, lawyers) and the illogical (the haphazard, inconsistent concepts misunderstood carbon-based life forms, highly intelligent computers, lawyers) via the medium of the grammatical, the haphazardly logical system incomprehensible to both. The practice of technical writing presupposes that you, the illogical, actually want to learn about the logical subject, which of course is in all cases false. This basis in a false presupposition makes technical writing a pursuit typically favored by those with arts degrees from obscure universities.”Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy(The Movie and Book by Douglas Adams)
5 What is Technical Writing (really)? “Technical writing conveys specific information about a technical subject to a specific audience for a specific purpose…The words and graphics of technical writing are meant to be practical: that is, to communicate a body of factual information that will help an audience understand a subject or carry out a task.”- Michael H. Markel Director of Technical Communication, Boise State University
7 Characteristics of Effective Technical Writing The four C’s:Clarity -- it is easily understood by your intended audienceComprehensiveness -- all of the necessary information is presentConciseness -- it is clear without excess verbiageCorrectness -- it is grammatical and follows conventions
8 Theory of Design Good design is: Visually simple and uncluttered. Highlights structure, hierarchy, and order.Helps readers find information they need.
9 Writing Write positive language. Don’t use: Access to student information is not authorized forany parties except Enrollment Services. Employees who have access to student information are not allowed to share that information with non- affiliated third parties if you have not authorized it.Do use: Access to student information is authorized only forEnrollment Services purposes. Employees who have access to student information are required to protect and keep it confidential.Don’t write in upper case for more than A WORD OR TWO.
10 Writing (cont.) Use lists whenever possible. Use the title to define the task.Use headings and subheadings.Label segments in away that reflects how readers are likely to think about the operation or procedure.Don’t use: ComponentsDo use: How to Check the Components
11 Writing (cont.) Provide only one way to do something within a step. Be precise with your instructions.Use warnings.Write a conclusion.Example: Congratulations! You’ve just created your first document!Don’t annoy the reader.
12 Writing Chunk your information. Keep your paragraphs short. Less is better.Control the text width by using columns.
13 The Written Report: Why? You waste your time unless you can communicate what you have been doing with it.The medium for most technical communication is the written report, so you had better be good at it!
14 Some characteristics of reports Everybody hates to write them,Everybody hates to read them,Almost nobody does read them,They take a HUGE amount of time to write,They are absolutely CRUCIAL to YOUR success in engineering!
15 Further characteristics of reports They are also almost always:Too long,Badly organized,Incomplete.
16 Where to find materials to write the report? Examples are:Documents related to the project / work currently being doneGoogle, Bing, YahooGoogle hacks/scripts (filetype, intitle, inurl, site)Journals (ex: Emeraldinsight.com, DOAJ.org, HighWire.stanford.edu)Scitopia.orgScirus.comWolframalpha.comRSS readers – (Pageflakes.com)Newsgroup (Google Groups, Yahoogroups)Filesharing – Bittorent.com, Furk.net, Mininova.orgSocial site – Facebook, Myspace, FriendsterYoutube.com, Metacafe.com etc.Reference, bibliography – Bibme.comFree Ebooks – Hongkiat.com - 20-best-websites-to-download-free-e-books. OPPapers.com – Research Papers and Essays
17 Basic Technical Overview Professionalism and ethics in reportingKnowing your audienceOutline writingReport writing (rigid structure)
18 Professionalism & ethics in reporting Different individuals have different personalities, and different modes for communicating.If you apply a canned formula to your technical communications, the result may be awkward.Within the general structure of formal technical communication, there is room for your personality to show through.
19 Knowing Your AudienceAt the very beginning… think about your likely audience.The word selection, level of motivation, and background required for a report (or a presentation) depends greatly on the background of the audience.
20 Outline Your Writing Purpose Why am I presenting this work? What do I want the audience to get out of this paper or this presentation?Hint: formulate one or two simple "take-home messages" that you will try to impart to your audience.
21 Write the Report, but how long? The length of your presentation - either written or oral - is often dictated by others.With respect to oral presentations, you will often find yourself up against a strict time limit:Be sure that you can get your take-home message across without hurryingHint: carefully rehearse your talk with a stop-watch in hand…
22 Common Report FormatsThere are a number of accepted formats for any type of document that you write, but…The commonly accepted standard for engineering reports is IMRaD - Introduction - Methods - Results - and Discussion.Note: Your reports do not necessarily need to follow this format strictly, but should use this as a guideline, and contain all of the information discussed in the following paragraphs.
23 Please refer to uploaded documents at Format ExamplePlease refer to uploaded documents at1. How to Write a Technical Report from Alan Smithee - A format using single column.pdf2. Template from IEEE for writing a Proceeding Manuscript - 2 columns.doc3. Guide to a Journal Writing Format from MUST - 2 columns.doc4. A sample of how to use MS Word to submit a Technical Report to a lecturer.doc5. A Detail Articles on how to write a Technical Report.doc
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