Introduction to Technical Writing Why Technical Writing? In industry, 20-40% of your time will be writing Career advancement People judge by communication skills Many job profiles requires versatility (more varied responsibilities) Definition of Technical Writing Different from literary writing and from normal speech Normal speech: “I”, “we” Literary writing: flowery description, quoted speech Writing with the purpose of communicating a technical idea / process to a specific audience i.e., “Writing to get work done” Characteristics of Technical Writing Targeted to particular readers Helps solve problems (e.g., instruction manual) Often created collaboratively Words + graphics Uses design to increase readability (headings, white space, etc.) Involves high-tech tools (e.g., CAD snapshots, Powerpoint, Photoshop) Examples of Technical Writing In House Out-of-House Letters, memoranda, Letters of inquiry, e-mail Reports (project, progress, trip, etc.) Proposals (to manager, to another department) sales, etc. Reports (to Client) Articles for publication Technical Writing Process Planning and Prewriting -Purpose? - Audience? -Research - Outline Writing (drafting) - Write a draft Following the outline Revise and Edit -Proofread - Finalize Process and Guidelines Process 1. Focus on Why 2. Focus on Readers 3. Accurate Info 4. Outline Guidelines Effective Communication Time is $$$ Step One- Focus on WHY What is the message? What do you want audience to do with info? Inform Request Instruct Propose Recommend Persuade Record Document Specifications Expected format e.g., report, email, memo Specified details: Length Headings Spacing Margin font type/size, etc. Step Two- Focus on READERS Who is intended audience? Knowledge / ability Interest Write at level of audience e.g., technical, layperson, management, in-house, client, general public Step Three- Collect Accurate Info “Content is still king” Do research, check facts Proof-read Facts v. opinions Example: FACT: The Porsche 911 has a power-to-weight ratio of 0.13, making it one of the fastest cars in its class. OPINION: The Porsche 911 is undoubtedly the best car in its class. Step Four- Create an Outline Logical Flow Generates ideas Comprehensive coverage of topic Like a Table of Contents Re-arrange as needed Accessible Document Sections /subsections Avoid overly long paragraphs Use lists (numbered, bulleted, checklist) Help skimmers! In Class Activity 1) Complete General Project #1 on page 15 in your text. 2) Complete the Area 51 worksheet on Fact v. Opinion -Be sure your name and CRN is on your work -Turn in your work when you are done -See you next week!