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10 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR TECHNICAL WRITING

Technical Writing을 잘 하기 위해 미국에서 권고하는 내용입니다. 영어 논문 쓸 때 큰 도움이 됩니다. 글쓴이는 Robert W. Bly입니다.

Better technical writing can result in proposals that win contracts,advertisements that sell products, instruction manuals that tech-nicians can follow, and letters, memos, and reports that get yourmessage across to the reader. Here are ten tips on style and wordchoice that can make writing clear and persuasive:

* Know yourreader--Are you writing for engineers? managers? technicians? laypeople? Make the technical depth of your writing compatible with thebackground of your reader.

* Write in a clear, conversationalstyle--Naturally, a technical paper on sizing pumps shouldn't have thesame chatty tone as a personal letter. But most technical professionalslean too much in the other direction, and their sharp thinking isobscured by windy, overly-formal prose. The key to success in technicalwriting? Keep it simple. Write to express--not to impress. A relaxed,conversational style can add vigor and clarity to your work.

FORMAL TECHNICAL STYLE---> INFORMAL CONVERSATIONAL STYLE

Thedata provided by direct examination of samples under the lens of themicroscope are insufficient for the purpose of making a properidentification of the components of the substance ---> We can't tellwhat it is made of by looking at it under the micro- scope.

Wehave found during conversations with customers that even the mostexperienced of extruder specialists have a tendency to avoid theextrusion of silicone profiles or hoses.---> Our customers tell usthat experienced extruder specialists avoid extruding silicone profilesor hoses.

The corporation terminated the employment of Mr. Joseph Smith.---> Joe was fired.

*Be concise--Technical professionals, especially those in industry, arebusy people. Make your writing less time-consuming for them to read bytelling the whole story in the fewest possible words. How can you makeyour writing more concise? One way is to avoid redundancies--a needlessform of wordiness in which a modifier repeats an idea already containedwithin the word being modified. For example, a recent trade addescribed a product as a "new innovation." Could there be such a thingas an old innovation? The ad also said the product was "very unique."Unique means "one of a kind," so it is impossible for anything to bevery unique. By now, you probably get the picture. Some otherredundancies that have come up in technical literature are listedbelow, along with the correct way to rewrite them:

REDUNDANCY---> REWRITE AS

advance plan ---> plan

actual experience ---> experience

two cubic feet in volume--->two cubic feet

cylindrical in shape --->cylindrical

uniformly homogeneous---> homogeneous

Manytechnical writers are fond of overblown expressions such as "the factthat," "it is well known that," and "it is the purpose of this writerto show that." These take up space but add little to meaning orclarity. The following list includes some of the wordy phrases thatappear frequently in technical literature. The column on the rightoffers suggested substitute words:

WORDY PHRASE---> SUGGESTED SUBSTITUTE

during the course of ---> during

in the form of ---> as

in many cases ---> often

in the event of ---> if

exhibits the ability to---> can

* Be consistent--"A foolish consistency," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson,"is the hobgoblin of little minds." This may be so. But, on the otherhand, inconsistencies in technical writing will confuse your readersand convince them that your scientific work and reasoning are as sloppyand disorganized as your prose. Good technical writers strive forconsistency in the use of numbers, hyphens, units of measure,punctuation, equations, grammar, symbols, capitalization, technicalterms and abbreviations. For example, many writers are inconsistent inthe use of hyphens. The rule is: two words that form an adjective arehyphenated. Thus, write: first-order reaction, fluidized-bedcombustion, high-sulfur coal, space-time continuum. The U.S. GovernmentPrinting Office Style Manual (1), Strunk and White's "The Elements ofStyle" (2), and your organization's writing manual can guide you in thebasics of grammar, punctuation, abbreviation and capitalization.

*Use jargon sparingly--Chemical engineering has a special language allits own. Technical terms are a helpful shorthand when you'recommunicating within the profession, but they may confuse readers whodo not have your special background. Take the word "yield," forexample. To a chemical engineer, yield is a measure of how much producta reaction produces. But, to car drivers, yield means slowing down (andstopping, if necessary) at an intersection. Other words that havespecial meaning to chemical engineers but have a different definitionin everyday use include: vacuum, pressure, batch, bypass, recycle,concentration, mole, purge, saturation, catalyst. Use legitimatetechnical terms when they communicate your ideas precisely, but avoidusing jargon just because the words sound impressive. Do not write thatmaterial is "gravimetrically conveyed" when it is simply dumped.

*Avoid big words--Technical writers sometimes prefer to use big,important-sounding words instead of short, simple words. This is amistake; fancy language just frustrates the reader. Write in plain,ordinary English and your readers will love you for it. Here are a fewbig words that occur frequently in technical literature; the column onthe right presents a shorter and preferable substitution:

BIG WORD ---> SUBSTITUTION

terminate---> end

utilize---> use

incombustible--->fireproof

substantiate--->prove

optimum---> best

*Prefer the specific to the general--Technical readers are interested indetailed technical information--facts, figures, conclusions,recommendations. Do not be content to say something is good, bad, fastor slow when you can say how good, how bad, how fast or how slow. Bespecific whenever possible.

GENERAL---> SPECIFIC

a tall spray dryer ---> a 40-foot-tall spray dryer

plant oil refinery unit ---> evaporator

unfavorable weather conditions---> rain

structural degradation ---> a leaky roof

high performance ---> 95% efficiency

*Break the writing up into short sections--Long, unbroken blocks of textare stumbling blocks that intimidate and bore readers. Breaking yourwriting up into short sections and short paragraphs-- as in thisarticle--makes it easier to read. In the same way, short sentences areeasier to grasp than long ones. A good guide for keeping sentencelength under control is to write sentences that can be spoken aloudwithout losing your breath (do not take a deep breath before doing thistest).

* Use visuals--Drawings, graphs and other visuals canreinforce your text. In fact, pictures often communicate better thanwords; we remember 10% of what we read, but 30% of what we see. Visualscan make your technical communications more effective. The differenttypes of visuals and what they can show are listed below:

TYPE OF VISUAL---> THIS SHOWS...

Photograph or illustration ---> what something looks like Map ...how it is put together

Schematic diagram---> how it works or is organized

Graph ---> how much there is (quantity); how one thing varies as a funct- ion of another

Pie chart ---> poportions and percentages

Bar chart ---> comparisons between quantities

Table ---> a body of related data

Mass and energy balances --->what goes in and what comes out

* Use the active voice--In the active voice
, action is expressed directly: "John performed the experiment." In thepassive voice, the action is indirect: "The experiment was performed byJohn." When possible, use the active voice. Your writing will be moredirect and vigorous; your sentences, more concise. As you can see inthe samples below, the passive voice seems puny and stiff by comparison:

PASSIVE VOICE ---> ACTIVE VOICE

Control of the bearing-oil supply is provided by the shutoff valves. --->Shutoff valves control the bearing-oil supply .

Leaking of the seals is prevented by the use of O-rings. ---> O-rings keep the seals from leaking.

Fuel-costsavings were realized through the installation of thermalinsulation.---> The installation of thermal insulation cut fuelcosts.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thisresource is (c) by, and compliments of Robert W. Bly, President of theCenter for Technical Communication. Bob specializes inbusiness-to-business and direct response advertising. Contact him at(201) 385-1220, fax (201) 385-1138 or in writing to 22 East Quackenbush


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  1. Favicon of http://jentleoh.tistory.com/ BlogIcon 금융114 2015.02.27 13:42 신고  댓글주소  수정/삭제  댓글쓰기

    포스팅 잘 봤어요 ㅎ~~
    다음번에도 좋은 포스팅 기대합니당 ㅎ~~

  2. Favicon of http://okol2.tistory.com/ BlogIcon 찡찡이와 쭈쭈뽕 2015.02.27 13:42 신고  댓글주소  수정/삭제  댓글쓰기

    좋은정보 감사합니다 ~
    좋은 하루 되세요 ㅋ

  3. Favicon of http://okol.tistory.com BlogIcon 인문학 코드 2015.02.27 13:42 신고  댓글주소  수정/삭제  댓글쓰기

    날씨가 좋네요 ~~^^
    포스팅 잘 봤습니다 !

  4. Favicon of http://ubidders.tistory.com/ BlogIcon 부자114 2015.02.28 14:44 신고  댓글주소  수정/삭제  댓글쓰기

    포스팅 좋네요 ~~ ^^
    잘 봤습니다 !!

  5. Favicon of http://miml.tistory.com BlogIcon 세이렌. 2015.04.07 16:01 신고  댓글주소  수정/삭제  댓글쓰기

    무슨 말인지 잘 모르겠당.. 허허허