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1 Technical Writing Style Write for Clarity Write for Conciseness.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Technical Writing Style Write for Clarity Write for Conciseness."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Technical Writing Style Write for Clarity Write for Conciseness

2 2 Write for clarity…. Provide Specific Detail Answer the Reporters’ Questions Use Easily Understandable Words Avoid grammar that confuses Avoid style that confuses

3 3 Provide specific details…. His office has an awful view, terrible furniture, and a depressing atmosphere. Subjective Objective His office has broken windows looking out on a brick wall, a rug with a six-inch hole in the center, missing floorboards, broken chairs, and a ceiling with chunks of plaster missing. Select details that are concrete and specific enough to convey an unmistakable picture.

4 4 Provide Specific Detail BAD: “Put enough air in your tires.” (How much air is “enough”?) GOOD: “Fill your tires to 32 pounds per square inch.” Specific detail Vague word

5 5 Answer Reporter’s Questions Reporter’s Questions = who, what, when, where, why, and how BAD: “We bought a new machine to solve the problem.” Who is “we”? What is the “new machine”? When was the purchase made? Where was the machine located? Why was the purchase made—what was the problem? How much did the machine cost?

6 6 Answer Reporter’s Questions (cont.) GOOD: “The marketing department bought a new AABco laser printer ($595) on June 10 for our production room. This printer will produce double-side, color copies unlike our prior printer. ”

7 7 Clarity—Use Easily Understandable Words BAD: “We are cognizant of your need for issuance of citations pursuant to code 18-B1 CPR violations.” NOTE: Write to express, not to impress! Use words that are easy to understand. NOTE: Write to express, not to impress! Use words that are easy to understand. Define abbreviations like “CPR.”

8 8 Clarity—Use Easily Understandable Words (cont.) GOOD: “We know you need to send citations because of code 18-B1 Continuing Property Record (CPB) violations. ”

9 9 To achieve conciseness …. Write to “fit the box” Limit paragraph length Limit sentence length Limit word length

10 10 Conciseness—Write to “fit the box” Technical writing often “fits in a box.” An automobile’s user manual must fit in the glove compartment. Instructions for baking brownies must fit on the back of the brownie box. Due to technological advancements, the box is shrinking. Consider the monitor size of Cell phones PDAs screens PowerPoint slides

11 11 Conciseness—Write to “fit the box” (cont.)

12 12 Conciseness—Write to “fit the box” (cont.) The size of this e- mail box limits the size of your correspondence.

13 13 Conciseness—Limit Paragraph Length To write concisely, limit paragraph length to approximately 4-6 lines of text 50 words per paragraph

14 14 Conciseness—Limit Paragraph Length (cont.) BAD Please prepare to supply a readout of your findings and recommendations to the officer of the Southwest Group at the completion of your study period. As we discussed, the undertaking of this project implies no currently known incidences of impropriety in the Southwest Group, nor is it designed to find any. Rather, it is to assure ourselves of sufficient caution, control, and impartiality when dealing with an area laden with such potential vulnerability. I am confident that we will be better served as a company as a result of this effort. NOTE: Long paragraphs are hard to read. NOTE: Long paragraphs are hard to read.

15 15 Conciseness—Limit Paragraph Length (cont.) BETTER Please prepare to supply a readout of your findings and recommendations to the officer of the Southwest Group at the completion of your study period. As we discussed, the undertaking of this project implies no currently known incidences of impropriety in the Southwest Group, nor is it designed to find any. Rather, it is to assure ourselves of sufficient caution, control, and impartiality when dealing with an area laden with such potential vulnerability. I am confident that we will be better served as a company as a result of this effort. NOTE: Shorter paragraphs are easier to read. Spacing gives readers a chance to stop, breathe, and digest the information. These paragraphs are still hard to read, due to the sentence and word length. NOTE: Shorter paragraphs are easier to read. Spacing gives readers a chance to stop, breathe, and digest the information. These paragraphs are still hard to read, due to the sentence and word length.

16 16 To Write Concisely… Limit sentence length words (average) If possible, limit word length syllables (average) NOTE: All words cannot be 1-2 syllables! You cannot shorten words like “telecommunications,” “engineer,” or “accountant,” Change the words you can; leave other words alone. NOTE: All words cannot be 1-2 syllables! You cannot shorten words like “telecommunications,” “engineer,” or “accountant,” Change the words you can; leave other words alone.

17 17 Conciseness—Limiting Word and Sentence Length (cont.) BAD “During the month of July, I made a decision to positively impact my writing inabilities by having a meeting with an instructional advisor.” NOTE: This sentence is 23 words long, and it uses five words over two syllables (underlined). NOTE: This sentence is 23 words long, and it uses five words over two syllables (underlined).

18 18 Conciseness—Limiting Word and Sentence Length (cont.) GOOD “In July, I decided to improve my writing by meeting with a teacher.” NOTE: This sentence is 13 words long, and it uses one word over two syllables (underlined). NOTE: This sentence is 13 words long, and it uses one word over two syllables (underlined).

19 19 Accuracy – Proofread !!! Errors in your writing make you look unprofessional and confuse the reader. Proofread to catch and correct errors.


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