Technical writing
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Technical writing. September 24 th , 2013. Today. Tone in business writing - Formal vs. Informal Writing - Avoiding Colloquial (casual) Tone: Word Choice. Formal. Example 1-

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Technical writing

Technical writing

September 24th , 2013


Today

Today

Tone in business writing - Formal vs. Informal Writing - Avoiding Colloquial (casual) Tone: Word Choice


Technical writing

Formal

Example 1-

This is to inform you that your book has been rejected by our publishing company as it was not up to the required standard. In case you would like us to reconsider it, we would suggest that you go over it and make some necessary changes.

Example 2 –

You know that book I wrote? Well, the publishing company rejected it. They thought it sucked. But hey, I did the best I could, and I think it was great. I’m not gonna redo it the way they said I should. 

Informal


Informal vs formal writing

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Informal Writing:

  • Tends to be more conversational.

  • Uses figures of speech and slang.

  • Short, using contractions and abbreviations.

  • More personal, emotional tone.

  • Speaks directly to audience using “you”, “your”, etc.

  • Uses shorter sentences.


Informal vs formal writing1

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Informal Writing:

  • Tends to be more conversational.

     Hey Tim, what’s up for lunch?

  • Uses figures of speech and slang.

     I have a huge project to finish. It’s retarded.


Informal vs formal writing2

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Informal Writing:

  • Short, using contractions and abbreviations.

     I don’t really wanna go DT today. U?

  • More personal, emotional tone.

     Allison can be such a bad boss sometimes.


Informal vs formal writing3

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Informal Writing:

  • Speaks directly to audience using “you”, “your”, etc.

     I think you should take the position.

  • Uses shorter sentences.

     That’s great. Let’s do lunch.


Informal vs formal writing4

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Formal Writing:

  • Tends to be complex and thorough.

  • Approaches serious topics very directly.

  • Uses longer sentences;

    Main points are introduced. More support and detail given.

  • Uses full words (no abbreviations or contractions).

  • States the main point objectively.

  • Not personal or emotional.


Informal vs formal writing5

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Formal Writing:

  • Tends to be complex and thorough.

     The company currently requires employees to arrive at work by 8:30 a.m. and complete a check-in form.

  • Approaches serious topics very directly.

     In order to maintain profits, this organization must cut back on the current number of employees.


Informal vs formal writing6

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Formal Writing:

  • Uses longer sentences;

    Main points are introduced. More support and detail given.

     In order to maintain profits, this organization must cut back on the number of employees. Currently, with 16 employees, this organization runs at a deficit of $32,000 per quarter. By reducing the number of people on staff, this deficit can be eliminated.


Informal vs formal writing7

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Formal Writing:

  • Uses full words (no abbreviations or contractions).

     Unfortunately, I am unable to attend today’s lunch meeting.

  • States the main point objectively/ Not personal or emotional

     Several employees have filed formal complaints against the district manager, Allison Williams.


Technical writing

Formal

Example 1-

This is to inform you that your book has been rejected by our publishing company as it was not up to the required standard. In case you would like us to reconsider it, we would suggest that you go over it and make some necessary changes.

Example 2 –

You know that book I wrote? Well, the publishing company rejected it. They thought it sucked. But hey, I did the best I could, and I think it was great. I’m not gonna redo it the way they said I should. 

Informal


Informal vs formal writing8

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Generally, it is safest to use a formal writing style in business writing.

Exception: When writing to someone you are close to or familiar with. - Using a formal tone in these cases can make thewriter seem “cold”.


Informal vs formal writing9

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Word choice has a significant effect on formal vs. formal language.

i.e.,

intoxicated vs. drunk

did not vs. didn’t

pleasant vs. nice


Informal vs formal writing10

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Multisyllabic words convey formality:

show  demonstrate

help  assistance

find  encounter

Our company greatly appreciated Mr. Lee’s assistance on the project.


Informal vs formal writing11

Informal vs. Formal Writing

One-word active verbs and strong verbs convey formality.

Active verbs:

i.e., determine, decrease, investigate, develop.

Strong verbs:

i.e., convey, recommend, suggest.

Two-/Three-word verbs and weak verbs convey informality.


Informal vs formal writing12

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Active verbs:

determine  figure out

decrease  go down

investigate  look into

develop  come up with


Informal vs formal writing13

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Strong verbs:

convey  tell

recommend

suggest

create make

complete do perform


Informal vs formal writing14

Informal vs. Formal Writing

Contractions and idioms convey informality and are not generally appropriate for business writing.

don’t  do not

we’re  we are

Sit on the fence  unable to come to a decision.

On the ball  understand


How to avoid informal writing

How to avoid informal writing

1. Change simple words into multi-syllabic words when possible.

Example:

I could meet your current needs for temporary help.

I could fulfill your current requirements for temporary assistance.


How to avoid informal writing1

How to avoid informal writing

2. Change two-word, weak verbs into one-word, strong verbs.

Example:

If the company goes with the first process, it would reach the break-even point at sales of 5,000 cases.

If the company chooses the first process, it would reach the break-even point at sales of 5,000 cases.


How to avoid informal writing2

How to avoid informal writing

Try to avoid vague adjectives and adverbs like:

“Good, bad, well, nice, pretty, very.”

Example:

Our company manufactures all sorts of good things.

Our company manufactures a variety of useful products.


How to avoid informal writing3

How to avoid informal writing

Spell out contractions in their full forms.

Example:

The CEO won’t appoint you as manager unless they’re in need of one.

The CEO will not appoint you as manager unless they are in need of one.


How to avoid informal writing4

How to avoid informal writing

Use idiomatic language only for informal situations.

Example:

Contrary to our expectations, the company’s product management took a turn for the worse after the merger.

Contrary to our expectations, the company’s product management managed its products less efficiently after the merger.


Practice

Practice

The following slides contain suggested solutions from the in-class practice sheet.- you can download the sheet in the “Files” section of the course website.- I suggest trying to fix each practice question before checking the solutions here. REMEMBER: These are suggested solutions. Yours may be different (but not incorrect).


Technical writing

1. I suggest we facilitate the production process by

hiring new employees to manufacturesteel rings.


Technical writing

2. Sing Magazine encounteredsome financial problems

last year and had to borrow a substantial amountof money from banks.


Technical writing

3. The firm has minimally reduced its employees’ working hours.


Technical writing

4. Mr. Gambler should choosethe best employee as soon as possible.


Technical writing

5. This new method will enhanceour sales.


Technical writing

6. Sales Manager John Smith spoke effectively during the press conference.


Technical writing

7. Sales Central has been growing steadilysince it started manufacturing the new product.


Technical writing

8. The manager will not say which part malfunctioned.

You might want to investigatethe matter yourself.


Technical writing

9. You should first determinewhat caused the reduction

in sales.


Technical writing

10. I suggest you reconsiderthe proposal.


Homework

Homework

Write two emails (one informal, one formal).

Information:

Last weekend, you were at a company party and drank too much. At the party, you became rude and verbally assaulted (insulted) one of your co-workers (who is also your friend) in front of your entire office, including your manager.

The company has demanded that you apologize to your friend and to the manager for your actions.


Practice homework

Practice Homework

Write two emails (one informal, one formal).

Informal  to your friend (you can choose the name).

Formal  to your manager (Name: Mr. Mayweather).

Instructions: Write each email on a separate page (word document) and send it as an attachment to:

[email protected]

Subject: practice e-mails

Deadline: Next Monday (Sept. 30): 11:59 p.m.


Homework1

Homework

For emails:

You need a salutation (if formal)

i.e., Dear Mrs. Schwartz.

You need to include a closing salutation (if formal)

i.e., Sincerely,

Joe Schmo


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