Friday, March 19, 2010
Four techniques are of special importance in technical writing: DEFINITION, DESCRIPTION OF MECHANISM, DESCRIPTION OF A PROCESS, and CLASSIFICATION. These techniques are not types of reports and it is important to remember that these techniques usually appear in a single report. It would be exceptional to find an entire report, even a short one, only one of these techniques. For example, two containing or more techniques might be closely interwoven as a writer described the design, construction, and operation of a mechanism. The intermingling of these techniques, however, does not alter the basic principles of their use. These techniques can be studied most effectively by taking one technique at a time.
In technology, words have precise, specific meanings; therefore there is a need for defining a technical term clearly. The extent to which a term should be defined or the length of a definition depends on the writer's purpose and the knowledge level of the reader.
Before going to the problem of "how to define", it is better to "think about what should be defined first." It is not possible of course, to set up an absolute list of terms and ideas that would require definition, not even for a specific body of readers, but it is possible and desirable to clarify the point of view from which the problem of definition should be attacked.
The relationships of words to the ideas and things for which they stand can become very complex. However, there is a simple and helpful way of classifying words, as they will appear to your reader. The words will fall into one of the following categories:
1. Familiar words for familiar things
2. Familiar words for unfamiliar things
3. Unfamiliar words for familiar things
4. Unfamiliar words for unfamiliar things
2.Description of a Mechanism
A mechanism is generally defined as any object or system that has a working part or parts. Most often the term suggests tools, instruments, and machines. But other examples of mechanisms could be the human body and systems like the universe or a city, which is composed of parts that work together like parts of a machine. A technical man constantly works with mechanisms and always needs to understand them; what they do, what they look like, what parts they have, and how these parts work together.
There are three fundamental divisions of the description and these are the introduction, the part-by-part description, and the conclusion.
Because the description of a mechanism seldom constitutes an article or report by itself, the introduction required is usually rather simple. The two elements that need most careful attention are:
1. the initial presentation of the mechanism
2. the organization of the description
3.Description of a Process
A process is a series of actions, and fundamentally the description of a process is the description of action. The action may be either one of two types. One type is that in which attention is focused on the performance of a human being, or possibly a group of human beings. A simple example is filing a workpiece by hand; in a description of this process, emphasis would fall naturally upon the human skills required. The other type involves action in which a human operator either is not directly concerned at all, or inconspicuous. An instance is the functioning of a contactor.
In describing almost any process, regardless of types there are problems that usually arises and these are:
1. adaptation of the description to the reader
2. overall organization
3. use of illustrations
Classification is the orderly, systematic arrangement of related things in accordance with a governing principle or basis. The classifier notes the structural and functional relationships among things that constitute a class. In recording this relationships, the classifier employs certain conventional terms. Acquaintance with these convenient terms will make the rest easy to follow.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Five Basic Principles of Good Technical Writing
The five basic principles of good technical writing could be taken as the foundation on which further development of the skills in writing should be developed. Comments by different authors of technical writing books refer to these principles as so important that in fact it should comprise the basics of technical writing. However, these principles are so basic and important that it encompasses the whole development of the subject, technical writing.
- Always have in mind a specific reader, real or imaginary, when you are writing a report; and always assume that this reader is intelligent, but uninformed.
- Before you start to write, always decide what the exact purpose of your report is; and make sure that every paragraph, every sentence, every word, makes a clear contribution to that purpose, and makes it at the right time.
- Use language that is simple, concrete, and familiar.
- At the beginning and end of every section of your report check your writing according to this principle: First you tell your readers what you are going to tell them, then you tell them, and then you tell them what you have told them."
- Make your report attractive to look at.