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Technical Communication (PowerPoint download)

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					Technical Communication
                                       Importance and challenges



Jessica M. Scully
writer / editor / writing instructor
jessica@jessicascully.com
www.jessicascully.com
       Why is this presentation important?
Technical communication skills matter for you now
   and in the future
      Your grade in this class
      Your grades in future classes                   v
      Getting a job


Technical communication skills matter for the public
How well you communicate affects
your career

                     Survey (Richard M. Davis)
                     Successful engineers spent 25% of work
                     week writing



                     Survey (Wisconsin)                           v
                     Professional engineers found writing their
                     most useful subject in college



                     Survey (Virginia Tech)
                     Recruiters claim that engineers need more
                     work on their writing
Scientific writing differs from other kinds of writing

   Subject Matter                        Writing Constraints



                              audience

                                                               occasion

                              purpose                                     v
  [Franklin,
  1952]



         Purpose of Writing               Writing Style


               To inform


           To persuade

                                                    [Peterson, 1987]
Scientists and engineers are called upon
to communicate in many different situations

      Reports                                    Conferences
      Articles                                   Lectures
      Proposals                                  Meetings
      Web Pages                                  Posters



                                                               v




          specific    general
         technical   technical   non-technical
         audiences   audiences    audiences
Structure in technical writing

     All documents have a beginning, middle, and
      end
     Each part has a specific function
     Length of each part varies by topic, format, and
      occasion
                                                         v
  Sections of Documents
Beginnings include
    Title or subject line (should be precise)
    Abstract, Executive Summary, or Summary
    Introduction
                                                    v
Middles of documents include
    A clear and logical explanation of the topic
Endings include
    Discussion and/or Conclusion
 Sample Documents
 Sample memo
  (http://www.writing.engr.psu.edu/workbooks/me
  mo-report.html)
 Sample short lab report                          v
  (http://www.writing.engr.psu.edu/workbooks/lab
  report2.html)
 Sample longer lab report
  http://www.writing.engr.psu.edu/workbooks/labr
  eport.html
 Sample research report (ESC – UC Irvine)
 Format in technical writing
Formats vary by constraints

Specific formats
    Lab reports               v
    Journal articles
    Progress reports
Style in technical writing
     Varies by constraints
     Formal documents do not use contractions
      (don’t, can’t)
     First person (I, we) sometimes not used
     Work completed may be described in a specific
      tense. Follow your instructor’s requirements. If
                                                         v
      not specified, use past.
 Common challenges in technical writing

 Writing for the correct constraints (e.g., correct
  level of formality)
 Writing logically and following a clear structure
 Following the correct/expected format                v
 Writing clearly and directly (includes grammar
  and punctuation)
 Common problems in grammar
 and punctuation
 Lack of parallelism
 Subject-verb agreement
 Dangling modifiers
 Unclear pronoun reference    v
 Wordiness
 Use of colon and semicolon
 Resources for more information
 Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science
  Students (www.writing.engr.psu.edu). Includes info
  on technical writing with samples and exercises
 Purdue University’s Owl
  (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/). Includes grammar    v
  and punctuation handouts and exercises. Also has
  info on technical writing (e.g.,
  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/726/03/)
 Monash University
  (www.eng.monash.edu.au/current-students/comm-
  learning.html). Detailed resources for writing in
  engineering.

				
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