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Technical writing: Approaches

Accuracy, Brevity, Clarity, Simplicity and Utility in Technical Writing

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Technical writing: Approaches

  1. 1. Technical Writing: Approaches Dr. Debaleena Dutta
  2. 2. Recap • In the last lesson, we learnt about the different methods of writing a technical document. They are: Inductive Deductive Expositional Linear Spatial Chronological Interrupted
  3. 3. Writing vs. Speaking • While we speak, the receiver can look at: our facial expressions, Gestures Body language. • Also, receiver can ask questions in case of doubt. Therefore, Speaking = Fast understanding
  4. 4. Speaking vs. Writing Written texts These Benefits. Therefore, written-text should be as reader-friendly as possible. Writing + Editing = Reader-friendly text
  5. 5. Approaches to edit Technical Writing • Approaches mean ‘angles’. • While we edit technical papers, we need to angle our thoughts on 5 focal points: Accuracy Brevity Clarity Utility Simplicity
  6. 6. Approaches to edit Technical Writing • Approaches mean ‘angles’. • While we edited technical papers, we need to angle our thoughts on 5 focal points: Accuracy Brevity Clarity Utility Simplicity The ABC-US Of Technical Writing
  7. 7. Picture: Approaches Approaches to Technical Writing Brevity Clarity Accuracy Simplicity Utility
  8. 8. Brevity
  9. 9. Brevity • The average human attention span is 8.25 sec. • Target should be to deliver concrete information within that 8 seconds. • We have to compact down our message to the least possible words. • This is called Brevity.
  10. 10. How to say things with brevity? Target is to give the core information, and nothing else. Use key words. Important information first Delete over-polite phrases. Delete repetitions. Cross out redundancies. Cut out flowery expressions
  11. 11. Let’s understand them one by one
  12. 12. a. Using key words to hold attention This method helps the reader to skim for information better. Eg.: My account balance got deducted because of activation of Hello tunes. I did not request for the activation. [18 words]
  13. 13. a. Using key words to hold attention This method helps the reader to skim for information better. Eg.: My account balance got deducted because of activation of Hello tunes. I did not request for the activation. [18 words]
  14. 14. a. Using key words to hold attention Correction: Unauthorized activation of Hello Tunes caused balance deduction in my account. [11 words]
  15. 15. b. Stating important information first • We get convinced, when we have the reason first. Apply this idea in writing: # Bring ‘because’ part to the front’. # Delete ‘Because’. # Add ‘So’ to the last sentence.
  16. 16. b. Stating important information first Eg.: We need a bigger office because our business is expanding. Correct: Our business is expanding. So, we need a bigger office.
  17. 17. c. Delete Over-polite Phrases Do not be over-eager to please. Eg.: With due regards, we would like to state that the warranty period of your printer has expired.
  18. 18. c. Delete Over-polite Phrases Do not be over-eager to please. Eg.: With due regards, we would like to state that The warranty period of your printer has expired.
  19. 19. d. Delete repetitions • Repetition of terms defocus our attention from other information. We remove repetition through: 1. Using umbrella terms. 2. Using pronouns. 3. Using abbreviations
  20. 20. d. Delete repetitions • Repetition of terms defocus our attention from other information. We remove repetition through: 1. Using umbrella terms. 2. Using pronouns. 3. Using abbreviations Umbrella terms are one-word for a specific category of things. Eg.: Mobiles; laptops; i-pods=electronic devices
  21. 21. d. Delete repetitions Eg.1: Using Umbrella terms Candidates are instructed to bring their Admit card and Aadhar card on the day of examination. They would not be allowed inside the exam hall in case they do not possess Admit Card and Aadhar Cards.
  22. 22. d. Delete repetitions Eg.1: Using Umbrella terms Candidates are instructed to bring their Admit card and Aadhar card on the day of examination. They would not be allowed inside the exam hall in case they do not possess Admit Card and Aadhar Cards the documents.
  23. 23. d. Delete repetitions • Eg. 2: Use pronouns to replace nouns The HOD has called a meeting at 2:00 pm. The venue is HOD’s chamber. Correction: The HOD has called a meeting at 2:00 pm in his chamber.
  24. 24. d. Delete repetitions • Eg. 3: Use abbreviations for technical terms used twice in a passage The opposition parties claimed that the Electronic Voting Machines were bugged. However, bugging an Electronic Voting Machine is highly technical, and costly.
  25. 25. d. Delete repetitions • Eg. 3: Use abbreviations for technical terms used twice in a passage The opposition parties claimed that the Electronic Voting Machines were bugged. However, bugging an EVM is highly technical, and costly.
  26. 26. e. Cross out redundancies Redundancy means saying the same thing two times. Eg. 1:Please meet me at 3 pm in the afternoon. Eg. 2.: The machines are connected together via LAN.
  27. 27. e. Cross out redundancies Redundancy means saying the same thing two times. Eg. 1:Please meet me at 3 pm in the afternoon. Eg. 2.: The machines are connected together via LAN.
  28. 28. f. Cut out lengthy phrases • Lengthy phrases confuse us. • We need to use one words in their place. Eg: 1. Our service-centers are in close proximity to your locality. 2. In the event that Plan A fails, we will take up Plan B.
  29. 29. f. Cut out lengthy phrases • Lengthy phrases confuse us. • We need to use one words in their place. Eg: 1. Our service-centers are in close proximity to your locality. 2. In the event that Plan A fails, we will take up Plan B. near IF
  30. 30. List of lengthy Phrases and their corrections Lengthy Phrases Brief words 1. Due to the fact that Because 2. Employed the use of Employed 3. In accordance with According to 4. With regards to Regarding
  31. 31. Clarity
  32. 32. What is Clarity? Clarity means clear-cut message. No doubt in reader of what you want to say. No double meaning. No scope for confusion.
  33. 33. When do we need Clarity? Often, you have to give instructions of:  how to do a thing; Eg.: a phone-manual where to go; when to do an action, etc. Your message, then, should have clarity.
  34. 34. Steps to achieve Clarity 1. Use glossary for technical terms 2. Follow one-idea in one-sentence rule. 3. Focus on answering the WH-questions: what, whom, when, where, how, how many. 4. Use discourse-markers to indicate logical flow. 5. Use Active voice. 6. Use examples from daily life. 7. Use pictures and info-graphics.
  35. 35. Steps to achieve Clarity 1. Use glossary for technical terms.
  36. 36. Steps to achieve Clarity 2. Follow one-idea in one-sentence rule. Eg.: Brevity and Clarity, two of the 5 approaches to writing, together make a written text compact.
  37. 37. Steps to achieve Clarity 2. Follow one-idea in one-sentence rule. Correction: There are 5 approaches to writing. Two of them are Brevity and Clarity. Together, they make a written text compact.
  38. 38. Steps to achieve Clarity 3. Focus on answering the WH-questions: what, whom, when, where, how, why. Eg.: We gather for a meeting with the HOD at 3pm, at his office, to discuss syllabus.
  39. 39. Steps to achieve Clarity 4. Use discourse markers to indicate logic. Eg.: The traffic is worst during office hours. Today, my colleague reached late. Clearly, she got stuck in the traffic.
  40. 40. Steps to achieve Clarity 5. Active voice gets more attention than passive. Passive: The lifts are to be avoided during fire. Active: Avoid the lifts during fire.
  41. 41. Steps to achieve Clarity 6. Examples from the daily life of your audience. 7. Visual tools: Pictures make ideas visual. Graphs, pie-charts, etc are good for complex information. Bullets to indicate points; Flowcharts for process
  42. 42. Accuracy
  43. 43. Accuracy = Correctness Verify and cross-check your information. -Provide correct facts. -Provide references for your data.
  44. 44. Accuracy contd. Check for spelling mistakes. Check for grammar mistakes. Check for punctuation Activity: Look into the following slide, and tag pictures with the above errors.
  45. 45. Simplicity
  46. 46. Simplicity It means saying things as simply as possible. Steps to achieve it: i. Use Simple Sentences. ii. Avoid heavy vocabulary. iii. Use sentences with 8-12 words.
  47. 47. Using Simple Sentence Generally, complicated texts and news papers contain a lot of complex sentences. Complex sentences are those that use clauses starting with ‘while’, whether, what, etc. Eg.: The government, while expressing grief for the dead people, stated that standing on tracks is illegal.
  48. 48. Using Simple Sentence Generally, complicated texts and news papers contain a lot of complex sentences. Complex sentences are those that use clauses starting with ‘while’, whether, what, etc. Correction: The government expressed grief for the dead people. However, it also called standing on tracks illegal.
  49. 49. Avoiding heavy vocabulary Eg. The CM concurred with the reports that people indeed committed trespass by standing on the tracks.
  50. 50. Avoiding heavy vocabulary Eg. The CM concurred with the reports that people indeed committed trespass by standing on the tracks. agreed broke rules
  51. 51. Using 8-12 words in a sentence • If we follow the rules of i. Cutting lengthy phrases (from Brevity) ii. One sentence, one idea (from Clarity) iii. Simple sentence (from Simplicity itself) We get short, effective sentences of 8-12 words.
  52. 52. Utility
  53. 53. Utility: ‘Why is this text important?’ ‘Why am I reading this text?’ This information should be clear to the reader. • This results in faster actions and decisions. • The Subject line and the last line in a letter or email serves this purpose.
  54. 54. Activity Analyze the next slide for Utility
  55. 55. Summary Approaches to Technical Writing Brevity Clarity Accuracy Simplicity Utility

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