TECHNICAL WRITING. English for Water Managers. What is Technical Reporting/ Writing/Communication.
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TECHNICAL WRITING English for Water Managers
What is Technical Reporting/ Writing/Communication • Markel, M (1998) defines Technical writing or communication as “the process of creating, designing and transmitting technical information so that people can understand it easily and use it safely, effectively and efficiently”. • Technical communication is read by people who need to carry out procedures and solve problems.
Definition cont Examples include – procedure manuals at workplaces, environment impact statements where: • the words and graphics of such documents are meant to be practical • Are meant to communicate factual information that will help your audience to understand a subject or task to be carried out.
Who creates Technical Communication? • Technical Professionals e.g. Engineers, scientists, business people. According to one survey carried out in the US, Technical Professionals can expect to devote at least one-fifth of their time to writing ( Anderson, 1985); Engineers can expect to spend 40% of their time writing ( Beer & McMurrey, 1997); Supervisors spend 40% of their time reading and writing, Managers spend 50% of their time undertaking the above activities.
Characteristics of Technical Communication. • Addresses particular readers • Helps readers solve problems • Furthers an organization’s goals • Is created collaboratively • Uses design to increase readability • Involves words and graphics • Involves high-tech tools. (source : Markel, M.1998 Technical Communication)
The Nature of Technical Writing • Technical writing is a specialty within a field of writing – writers must lean proper writing skills, variations in format, clear objectives • Technical writing characterised by : • Clarity • Conciseness • Organization • grammar
Attributes of good technical Writers • You must be reasonably methodical – plan your work , look up from time to time to take stock of what others are doing - keep a clear head about ways and means for accomplishing your purpose. • Be objective – try not to get emotionally attached anything you have written – do not ask whether you or your colleagues are
Attributes cont. • Going to be pleased by your writing BUT rather whether the intended audience will be pleased, informed, satisfied and persuaded. • Keep in mind that most of what you do will eventually have to be presented in writing. Do your work so that it will be honestly and effectively reportable.
Attributes cont. • Remind yourself that clarity is your most important attribute – until the intended reader can understand it, nothing else can profitably be done with it. • As someone who must write, understand that writing is something that can be learned –one writer who knew well the nature and substance of writing summed up the way to be successful with 3 imperatives, namely
Attributes cont. • Know your reader • Know your objective • Be simple, direct and concise.
Qualities of good Technical Writing Qualities of good technical writing vary, depending upon audience and objective, however some qualities are apparent e.g • It makes a good impression when picked up and read through; • Has the preliminary matter (content) to characterize the report and disclose its purpose and scope;
Qualities cont. • Has the body that provides essential information and that is written clearly without jargon or padding; • Has when needed a summary or set of conclusions to reveal the results obtained; • Is designed in a way that it can be read selectively eg. For some users, only a summary, by others only an introduction and conclusions
Qualities cont. • Has a rationale and easily discernible plan, such as may be revealed by the table of contents, headings throughout the report; • Reads coherently and cumulatively from the beginning to end • Answers readers’ questions as these questions arise in their minds; • Conveys an overall impression of authority,
Qualities cont Thoroughness, work and honesty. ACTIVITY. * List your present asserts and limitations as a technical writer.
Basics of Technical Writing • For most writers, the composing process is broken into 5 parts : • Situational Analysis: as a writer you may have to report results and conclusions of a scientific experiment etc. 2. Although topics under technical writing are varied, the purposes are limited. Generally the purpose is either to INFORM or to ARGUE.
Basics cont. • Be sure to have your topic and purpose in hand before you proceed in writing your project • 2. AUDIENCE and PERSONA. • Writers make decisions about both content and style based upon consideration of audience and the persona the writer wants to project.
Basics cont.. • Some questions you need to ask about your audience: (i) What is the level of knowledge and experience of your readers? – these are key factors in technical writing. Do your readers understand your professional and technical language – if they do not, you have to pay attention to your word choice, choosing simpler terms where possible, defining terms
Basics cont • What will the reader do with the Information presented? – focus on the readers concerns and purpose – each case calls for a different selection of content and a different style What is your relationship to the reader? – are the readers your bosses, clients, peers, students, subordinates.
Basics cont. • The roles writers find themselves in also affect their choice of content. • What is your readers’ attitude about what you are going to say? – audiences can be suspicious and hostile, they may be apathetic, friendly, interested – their attitude should affect how you approach them – if you have an unfriendly audience, take particular care to explain your position clearly in language that -is understandable but not patronizing.