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Writing in the Technical Fields


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Table of Contents

1. Why Technical People Needn't Fear Writing Writing in the Technical Workplace Why Technical People Can Master Technical Writing Attributes of Technical Writing The Writing Process Exercises: Writing in the Workplace 2. Technical Sentences Introduction Find the Real Subject Find the Real Verb (Avoid Nominalizations) Edit for Conciseness Edit for Clarity Check for Gender-Neutral Language Check the Grammar and Mechanics Exercises: Editing Technical Sentences 3. Technical Paragraphs Keep Paragraphs Short Begin Paragraphs with a Topic Sentence Make Every Paragraph Unified Make Every Paragraph Complete Make Every Paragraph Cohesive Exercises: Editing Technical Paragraphs and Reports 4. Parallelism, Lists, and Layout Parallelism in Sentences Lists Headings Exercises: Creating Parallel Sentences and Lists 5. Routine Correspondence Letter Format Memo and Email Formats Email Etiquette ("Netiquette") Professional Correspondence: Style and Tone Exercises: Standard Correspondence 6. Technical Reports and Documents Report Structure Documents that Report on Past Events or Completed Tasks Documents that Report on Ongoing Tasks: Progress Reports Documents that Recommend Future Actions Documents that Define Standards: Specifications Exercises: Writing Different Kinds of Reports 7. Formal Reports Parts of a Formal Report Formal Report Pagination Exercises: Formal Reports 8. Intercultural Communication, Collaborative Writing, and Document Control Intercultural Communication Writing in Teams Document Sharing and Control Exercises: Intercultural Considerations 9. References and Citations The Common Knowledge Exception Terminology Types: MLA, APA, Turabian, Chicago, IEEE, ACS, Vancouver Citing Sources Creating References Sections Autogenerating Reference Entries Sample IEEE Reference Entries Exercises: References and Citations 10. Technical Graphics Types and Uses Putting Graphics into Reports Rules for Incorporating Report Graphics Avoiding Graphical Misrepresentation Exercises: Technical Graphics 11. Job Application Packages The Myth of the Experience Trap Resumes Application Letters Finding Job Openings Exercises: Job Application Packages 12. Technical Definitions and Descriptions Technical Definitions Technical Descriptions Exercises: Technical Definitions and Descriptions 13. Instructions, Procedures, and Manuals The Introduction The Step-by-Step Instructions The Conclusion Notes, Cautions, Warnings, and Danger Alerts Usability Manuals Exercises: Editing Instructions and Writing Instructions 14. Oral Presentations Planning the Presentation Making Speech Notes Using Presenter View Designing and Using Slides Practising the Presentation Overcoming Stage Fright and Answering Questions Exercises: Oral Presentations APPENDIX A Punctuation and Grammar Apostrophes Colons Commas Dashes (En Dash and Em Dash) Hyphens Modifiers Pronouns Quotation Marks Semi-colons APPENDIX B Mechanics and Conventions Acronyms and Abbreviations Capitals Numbers Units of Measurement APPENDIX C Ethics Ethics in the Professions Ethics for Students Ethics in Technical Writing Exercises Glossary of Commonly Misused Words and Phrases References Bibliography Index

About the Author

Thorsten Ewald is a full-time technical communications instructor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) as well as a consultant and trainer in corporate technical communications. He holds a Master's degree in literature and rhetoric from the University of British Columbia.


"I really appreciate the author citing real-life Canadian examples that explain why technical communications is so important in the workplace." --Dylan Stephan Yanchynski, Red River College "The writing style is very student-friendly. As such, it is less likely to intimidate the readers, and more likely to get the students to actually read the chapters." --Paula Crooks, Conestoga College "Because many of the students in my classes are engineering or computer science students, the inclusion of IEEE documentation style is extremely useful. . . . The chapters on writing techniques are excellent: they are thorough but concise. . . . The students really appreciate the detailed discussion of oral presentations, [which] incorporates every aspect of presentations they need to consider." --Lisa Bryce, University of Calgary "One of [this text's] strengths is that the documents it models and issues it discusses are relevant... A great example of the work done to support this is the instructor companion material in several chapters, which provides internet links to multiple resources. . . . Very useful." --Shannon Smyrl, Thompson Rivers University

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