Presentation on theme: "Technical Writing for Engineers by Dr. Aly N. El-Bahrawy Faculty of Engineering, Ain Shams University."— Presentation transcript:
Technical Writing for Engineers by Dr. Aly N. El-Bahrawy Faculty of Engineering, Ain Shams University
Engineers and Writing Engineers write a lot Engineers write many kinds of documents Successful engineers require strong writing skills Engineers can learn to write well No one can be a good writer – only a good rewriter
Noise and the Communication Process Mess- age Encoder (sender) Channel (speech, writing, etc.) Decoder (receiver) Mess- age Noise possibilities Anything that causes reader to hesitate due to uncertainty, confusion or frustration is noise
Purpose Readers Research Outline Initial Draft Mechanics Grammar Style Content Technical Writing Process PlanningDraftingReviewing
Guidelines for Good English Writing Why you are writing? Your readers To the point Document specifications Accurate information Logical material Clear expression
Guidelines for Good English Writing Efficient wording Accessible ideas Information lists Page formatting Time management
Why you are writing? Purpose –Inform –Request –Instruct –Propose –Recommend –Persuade –Record
Your Readers Consider their Needs Interests Level of expertise Possible reaction They can be your Peers Supervisors Subordinates
Bridging the Gap Ask yourself questions Knowledge –Different field, different audience Ability –Level and vocabulary, unreasonable expectations Interest –Purpose, level of detail, attitude
Document Specifications Length of document –Brief memo, specs, RFP Topic Editor requirements –No of words, format
To the Point Most important at the beginning Managers need the ‘bottom line’ Kind of document –Letter(opening sentence) –Memo (subject line) –E-mail (concise subject heading) –Report (informative title, executive summary)
Accurate Information Errors make readers lose confidence Examples of errors –Incorrect reference, inaccurate directions, claims true under certain conditions Difference between fact and opinion
Logical Material Chronological –progress of trip report From most to least important –no of points Order of familiarity or difficulty –Text book From general to specific –memo
Clear Expression Engineering is a precise discipline Sentence must convey a single meaning with no room for interpretation or misunderstanding Pitfalls to avoid –Ambiguity, vagueness, coherence, directness
Clear Expression Ambiguity –Point to more than one referent in a sentence Vagueness –Words causing no useful meaning to reader Coherence –Paragraphs and documents should stick together and be focused on subject Directness –Access to information should be quick and easy
Example of Ambiguity Before accepting material from the new subcontractors, we should make sure they meet our requirements. We should make sure the materials from the new contractors meet our requirements before accepting them.
Example of Vagueness The Robotics group is several weeks behind schedule. The Robotics group is six weeks behind schedule
Example of Coherence A significant advantage of the 125-H CRT is its high power consumption. The tube requires substantial power to produce the high voltages and currents that are necessary to drive and deflect the electron beam. The 125-H is inefficient – only about 10% to 20% of the power used by the tube is converted into visible light at the surface of the screen. The 125-H is poorly suited for portable display devices that run on batteries, where lower consumption is necessary. We should consider other options before committing to purchase the 125-H.
Example of Coherence A significant advantage of the 125-H CRT is its high power consumption. This tube requires substantial power to produce the high voltages and currents that are necessary to drive and deflect the electron beam. In addition, the 125-H is inefficient – only about 10% to 20% of the power used by the tube is converted into visible light a the surface of the screen. Thus, the 125-H is poorly suited for portable display devices that run on batteries, where lower consumption is necessary. Because of this drawback, we should consider other options before committing to purchase the 125-H.
Example of Directness After the long and difficult development cycle due to factory renovation, the infrared controller will be ready for production in the near future. The infrared controller will be ready for production March 4. Its development cycle was slowed down by the factory renovation.
Efficient Wording Cost to produce one written page (15-20$) Wordiness –Simplest and plainest word ‘Never utilize utilize when you can use use’ –Let your writing ‘cool off’ for a while, then come back to edit later
Example of Wordiness You may often find that there are a number of words contained in your writing that can be safely eliminated without any kind of danger to your meaning whatsoever Can you fix it?
Example of Wordiness You may often find that there are a number of words contained in your writing that can be safely eliminated without any kind of danger to your meaning whatsoever You may find words that can be eliminated without danger to your meaning
Examples of Wordiness I regret to say that at this point in time I basically do not have access to that specific information. I do not know. It is our considered recommendation that a new computer should be purchased. We recommend buying a new computer.
Wordiness Table (words) commence compel comprises employ endeavor fabricate finalize Initiate optimal prioritize start force is use try make end begin best rank
Wordiness Table (phrases) a large number of at this point in time come in contact with exhibits the ability to in the event of in some cases in view of the fact that in the neighborhood of many now contact can if sometimes because about
Efficient Wording Redundancy –Using words that say the same thing (e.g. basic fundamentals, connected together) Turning verbs into nouns –Wanting to write in the passive rather than the active voice (e.g. made a selection – selected, investigation was undertaken – investigated)
Table of Redundancy alternative choices actual experience completely eliminate Just exactly exactly identical prove conclusively rectangular in shape 12 noon very best alternatives experience eliminate exactly identical prove rectangular noon best
Accessible Ideas Subdivision into sections and sub-sections –Hierarchical headings FIRSTSecond(indent) Third –Numbered headings 1.01.1 1.1.1 –Paragraph length Under 12 lines or less, avoid orphans and widows
Information Lists Numbered –Order of importance, ≤ 7 items Checklists –All items must be tended to (usu. in order) Bulleted –No specific order
Information Lists Punctuation –Lead-in ends with a verb, use no colon Some of the main concerns of environmental engineering are –air pollution –solid waste disposal –public water supply –Lead-in is a complete statement, use colon Some of the main concerns of environmental engineering are as follows:
Information Lists –Items are complete statement, use period. Otherwise, use no punctuation The group accomplishments are as follows: –Logic design was completed. –Final simulations were run. –Test patterns were debugged. –Consistent capitalization Grammatical parallelism –Same beginning (verb, noun, etc.)
Page Formatting Readers like visually pleasing print Margins –One inch all around, ragged right-hand margin, extra left margin for binding White space –Provides ‘breathing room’
Page Formatting Typeface –Serif (larger quantity of text) and sans serif (headings) The electric car prototype has regenerative braking, which recharges the supply while decelerating the vehicle.
Time Management Finding and using time –breaks, laptops in waiting rooms, hotels, at airport, on trains, etc. Outlines, deadlines, and time lines Collaborative writing –Team writing is not easy (divide work among persons, finish and pass to the next, or assign each person a different task)