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Technical Writing For Consultants
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Technical Writing For Consultants

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  • Lorraine add script here……………….. there is nothing clever about writing long, complex sentences. For technical writing it is simply wrong . You must get used to the idea of writing sentences that are reasonably short and simple.
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  • Lorraine add script here I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS??? HOW IS IT SUPPOSED TO LOOK? -avie
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Technical Writing For Consultants Technical Writing For Consultants Presentation Transcript

  • Technical Writing for Consultants
  • Today’s Discussion
    • Topics
      • Composing and Revising
      • Creating Effective Sentences
      • Appropriate Word Choice
      • Typical Applications
    • Benefits
      • Increased Persuasiveness
      • Faster Agency Approvals
      • Better “Win” Percentages
      • Highly Satisfied Clients
  • Composing and Revising “ All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things.” (Bobby Knight)
    • Capturing Relevant Points Ensures Achieving Your Goal
    • Organizational Structure Makes Your Ideas Understandable
    • Hooks Hold the Attention of Your Reader and Reinforce Theme
  • Composing and Revising
    • Assessing the Situation/Reader
    • Explore Ideas
    • Establish a Focus, Then a Plan
    • Drafting
    • Revision
  • Composing and Revising
    • Assessing the Situation/Reader
      • Subject
      • Purpose
      • Audience
      • Length/Deadline
      • Format
  • Composing and Revising
    • Principle #1 – “Target” Syndrome
    • Consultant Writing Often Involves a Situation in Which the Reader Can Be Assumed to be Resistant to Some or All of the Ideas.
    • Your Ultimate Ability to Persuade Hinges on Up Front Identification and Response to the Most Likely Points of Contention.
    “ Consultant shall prepare an analysis of the project site and present findings for review and approval from the City of San Diego.” How Would You Address the Fee Here?
  • Composing and Revising
    • Explore Ideas
      • Listing (Brain-storming)
      • Clustering and Branching
      • Asking Questions, “Conclusion Forecasting”
      • Freewriting
  • Composing and Revising
    • Principle #2 – Writing as the “means to the end”
      • A Technical Study Can Easily Be Organized By Answering Typically Generated Questions Related to Its Discipline.
      • Taking an Advanced Look at Your (Probable) Conclusions and Writing Towards Them Will Keep You Focused and “On Point.”
    What Did You Study? Why Did You Study It? How Did You Study It? What Were the Results?
  • Composing and Revising
    • Establish a Focus, Then a Plan
        • Thesis Creation
          • Single Sentence
          • Not Inherently Factual but Supported by Fact
        • Overriding Purpose
    • “ RBF is the most qualified organization for the job.”
    • “ This project meets the applicable design standards and is worthy of approval.”
    • “ The fee proposed is of high value, given the nature of the work.”
    • Last but not least………..
    • “ The problem did not result from our mistake.”
  • Composing and Revising
    • Drafting
      • Introduction
      • Paragraph Unity
      • Paragraph Development
      • Paragraph Organization
  • Composing and Revising
    • Principle #3 – Your Most Likely to Lose Your Reader At Transition Points
      • To Show Addition – “and, also, in addition, too”
      • To Give Examples – “for example, for instance, to illustrate, in fact”
      • To Compare – “in the same manner, similarly, likewise”
      • To Summarize or Conclude – “in other words, in short, in summary, therefore, to sum up”
      • To Show Location or Direction – “above, to the north, downstream, opposite, adjacent”
      • To Indicate Logical Relationship – “if, so, therefore, thus, as a result, for this reason, since”
    “ The proposed project will successfully mitigate all increases in traffic flow by incorporating a new signal at the intersection of Main Street and Walnut Street. Consequently , a dedicated left turn will be provided at the intersection of Walnut Street and Elmwood Avenue.” “ The proposed project will successfully mitigate all increases in traffic flow by incorporating a new signal at the intersection of Main Street and Walnut Street. Also , a dedicated left turn will be provided at the intersection of Walnut Street and Elmwood Avenue.”
  • Composing and Revising
    • Principle #4 – Organizational Rule of Thumb
      • Start by Telling Them What You’re “going to tell them”
      • Tell them
      • Tell them what you “told them”
  • Composing and Revising
    • Revision
    • Effective Sentences (Discussed Later)
    • Word Choice (Discussed Later)
    • Global Editing – 7 Hints
      • Has the Main Purpose Been Accomplished?
      • Is the Draft Appropriate for the Audience?
      • Is it Focused on the “Main Point”?
      • Is the Order Effective?
      • Are the Parts Proportioned Sensibly?
      • Is the Supporting Material Persuasive?
      • What Can Be Deleted?
  • Effective Sentences
    • “ I have made this (letter) longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter” (Blaise Pascal – 1657)
    Prove More with Less Saves Everyone’s “Valuable Time” Help Project an Image of Expertise
  • Principle #5
    • A sentence should contain a single unit of information. Therefore, avoid compound sentences wherever possible. In particular, be on the lookout for words like and , or and while which are often used unnecessarily to build a compound sentence.
  • Principles #6 and #7
    • Principle #6
    • Check your sentences for faulty construction. Incorrect use of commas is a common cause of poorly constructed and excessively long sentences.
    • Principle #7
    • Random shifts in verb tense are an easy way to confuse or “lose” your reader
  • Examples
    • Bad : “Time division multiplexed systems are basically much simpler, the combination and separation of channels being affected by timing circuits rather than by filters and inter-channel interference is less dependent on system non-linearities, due to the fact that only one channel is using the common communication medium at any instant.”
    • Good : “Systems multiplexed by time division are basically much simpler. The channels are combined and separated by timing circuits, not by filters. Interference between channels depends less on non-linear features of the system, because only one channel is using the common communication medium at any time.”
  • Principle #8
    • Use parentheses sparingly.
    • Most uses are due to laziness and can be avoided by breaking up the sentence.
    • Never use nested parentheses if you want to retain your reader.
  • Sentence Development
    • Balance between precision with clarity
    • Needlessly complex sentences misdirect readers
    • Higher complexity, more revisions are needed to clarify it
    • Besides casting your ideas into clear sentences, you have to connect those ideas
    • Varying sentence openers enlivens the writing and leads to better connections
  • Word Choice
    • Carefully Chosen Words Simplify Your Message
    • Provide Enhanced Levels of Description
    • Establish Degree of Formality and Serve as a Connection Path to the Reader’s Perspective
    “ Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say 'infinitely' when you mean 'very'; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite.” (C.S. Lewis – English Novelist and Essayist)
  • Golden Rules
    • Replace difficult words and phrases with simpler alternatives
    • Avoid stock phrases
    • Avoid legal words
    • Avoid unnecessary words and repetition
  • Words and expressions to avoid So In Consequence More Than In Excess Of If In the Event Of Need Necessitate Find Out Ascertain Help Assist, Assistance Begin Initiate Start Commence Show Demonstrate About In Respect Of Send Transmit Now At this time Stop Terminate, End Help Facilitate Try Endeavor Use Utilize Simple Alternative Word/Expression to Avoid
  • Stock Phrases I have… I am in receipt of… Please… Do not hesitate to… Now… At this precise moment in time… Before… Prior to the occasion when… Considering… Taking into consideration such factors as… If… Should a situation arise where… Because, since… Owing to the situation that… Probably… There is a reasonable expectation that… GOOD BAD
  • Avoid legal words
    • Also avoid nonsensical legal references like the following:
    • “ The said software compiler…” which should be changed to “The software compiler…”
    • “ The aforementioned people have agreed …” which should be changed to “A and B have agreed…”
    Herewith Thereat Thereof Whereon Hereat Hereto Hereof Therein Whereat Henceforth Forthwith
  • Avoiding unnecessary words and repetition
    • Many sentences contain unnecessary words that repeat an idea already expressed in another word. This wastes space and blunts the message.
    • In many cases unnecessary words are caused by ‘abstract’ words like nature, position, character, condition and situation
  • Examples – unnecessary words After specification we can begin detailed design. After specification we are in a position to begin detailed design. The product is unsatisfactory. The product is not of a satisfactory character. The product is unsatisfactory. The product is not of a satisfactory nature. GOOD BAD
  • Examples - Redundancy This is done by inserting an artificial fault. This is done by means of inserting an artificial fault. The input is processed. The input is suitably processed. He wore a blue shirt. He wore a shirt that was blue in color. The user can see the image moving. The user can visibly see the image moving. The printer is near the computer. The printer is located in the immediate vicinity of the computer. The printer is adjacent to the computer. The printer is located adjacent to the computer. Without Redundancy With Redundancy
  • Exercises
    • Grammar
    • Punctuation
    • Usage
    • Style
  • Application to Everyday Use
    • Proposals
    • Technical Studies
  • Technical Studies
    • Focus is to introduce and document
    • Two audiences
      • Engineers / Planners how and why
      • Reader interested in application and effectiveness
    • Design
      • Summary
      • Introduction
      • Discussion
      • Conclusions
      • Appendices
  • Correspondence – Proposals
    • Organization
    • Transition/Depth/Emphasis
    • Language
    • Illustration
    • Mechanics/Format
  • Correspondence - Emails
    • Make Requests
    • Answer Questions
    • Give Announcements
    • Guidelines
      • Keep sentence lengths short (< 20 words / paragraphs < 7 lines)
      • Choose title that orients the reader to subject and distinguishes your e-mail from others of same subject
      • Send copies to anyone whose name you mention or who would be directly involved
      • Mention attachments
      • Final paragraphs should tell reader what you want them to do or what you will do for them
  • Conclusion
    • By Sharpening Your Compositional Skills, Using Effective Sentences, and Appropriate Words You Can…
      • Capture All Relevant Points and Produce a More Technically Sound Document
      • Connect with Your Reader By Holding Their Attention and Tapping In to Their Perspective
      • Establish Greater Credibility by Projecting A Sense of Expertise
      • Communicate In a More Time Efficient Manner
    • As a Result You Can…
      • Increase Your Ability to Persuade, Allowing for Greater Proposal “Wins” and Faster Agency Approvals
      • Achieve Greater Profit
      • Raise the Level of Client Satisfaction