Successfully reported this slideshow.
You’ve unlocked unlimited downloads on SlideShare!
Types of Technical Definitions<br />There are three different types of definitions: parenthetical, sentence, and <br />extended.<br />Parenthetical definitions – A parenthetical definition explains or clarifies the<br />meaning of a word or phrase within the sentence itself.<br />Example:<br />A butterfly’s thorax (body) has three segments that bear four wings and six legs.<br />In 1929, Earnest Lawrence developed the first workable design for a cyclotron, <br />a device that accelerates protons to high energies, helping scientist better explore<br />the strange universe of subatomic particles.<br />A parenthetical definition usually appears in parentheses or is set off by commas <br />or dashes.<br />
Types of Technical Definitions<br />Sentence definitions – These definitions are whole sentences in which a term is<br />defined by naming its “category” and the “distinguishing features” that differentiate<br />it from its category.<br />Example:<br />An ion is a atom that has a positive charge because one or more electrons have been<br />stripped from it.<br />Sentence definitions are often embedded in documents when a word or concept<br />needs to be defined in exact terms. They are also commonly found in dictionaries<br />and glossaries.<br />Category<br />Distinguishing characteristics<br />
Types of Technical Definitions<br />Extended definitions – Extended definitions can fill a small paragraph or even run as long<br />as several pages. In extended definitions, complex terms are defined very precisely by using<br />techniques such as analogies, comparisons, contrast, examples, negation, and graphics.<br />Technical Communication Today, page 490, Figure 18.1, for example shows an extended<br />Definition of a laser from Bell Labs.<br />As you notice in this extended definition of lasers, many words could be even further defined.<br />In this way, a definition can be extended indefinitely.<br />
Planning and Researching Technical Definitions<br />In most cases, parenthetical and sentence definitions can be simple to write but extended definitions will be longer than a single sentence and will require some planning and researching<br />
Planning<br />The five-W and How Questions:<br /><ul><li>Who are the readers
Why do the readers need the information in this document
How should we achieve our purpose and goals</li></li></ul><li>Planning (cont.)<br />Rhetorical Situation<br />Subject<br /> What are the facts and details<br />Purpose<br /> why is the definition needed<br />Readers<br /> consider experts, nonexperts, or both<br />Context of Use<br /> place, time, where to define it in the document<br />
Researching<br />When researching a definition, information should be gathered from online, print, and from empirical sources<br />
Researching (cont.)<br />Strategies for writing definitions<br />Do background research<br />Find examples of usage<br />Compare and contrast<br />Collect visuals<br />
Organizing and Drafting Technical Definitions <br />Find a thorough understanding of it and the contexts in which it is used.<br />Think about the kinds of information the reader needs to properly understand the term. <br />
Using a word or phrase to define a term when used in a technical document<br />Use Dictionary, glossary, or thesaurus for a synonyms<br />Helpful links:www.merriam-webster.com<br />www.oed.com<br />www.Bartleby.com<br />Parenthetical Definitions<br />
Sentence Definition<br />Used when a term needs to be exactly defined. <br />When using a word that is most likely unfamiliar for the reader, the sentence that follows the should be a definition. <br />Example: Unlike bacteria, a virus is not really alive. A virus is genetic material (DNA or RNA) protected by a protein coating, but it is unable to replicate without a host cell.<br />3 parts of a sentence definition:<br />The item been defined.<br />The category of similar things to which the item belongs.<br />Any distinguished features that separate this item from other items in its category.<br />
Extended Definitions<br />Used for terms that need to be explained with utmost precision. <br />Found in: reports, websites, guidebooks, handbooks.<br />Ex <br />
Extending a Definition<br />Word History: The history of a word’s usage can also offer interesting insights into its current meaning.<br />Examples: using examples to clarify a term’s usage.<br />Negation: Defining something by showing what it is not.<br />Similarities and Differences: compare the subject to things that are similar, showing similar characteristics and their differences. <br />Analogy: Comparing subject to something completely different but with some similar qualities. <br />Graphics: Used to support written text by illustrating something<br />
Using Style and Design in Technical Definitions<br />When writing and revising a definition you can use the following suggestions:<br />Use only words that are familiar to the readers.<br />Keep sentences short.<br />Keep it visual.<br />
Using Style and Design in Technical Definitions<br />There are situations such as white papers or specifications where extended definitions need to take on their own design. When this happens you might consider some of the following design features.<br /><ul><li>A larger title that stands out from the body text.
A font size that reflect your readers’ characteristics and the context in use in which they will use the document.</li></li></ul><li>Using Style and Design in Technical Definitions<br />Headings that break the definition into larger blocks of information.<br />A format with two or more columns that allows you to put graphics.<br />A graphic or picture that offers a helpful image of the subject.<br />
Revising, Editing and Proofreading<br />Accuracy is very important in definitions, so you should leave plenty time to revise and edit your work:<br />Look for places where you can cut any information that goes beyond your readers’ need to know.<br />Look for ways to use the senses, especially the visual, to bring your definition to life.<br />
Revising, Editing and Proofreading<br />Look for places where you can add color or texture. With this you will help your audience to understand the definition.<br />Look for sentences that are too long or complex.<br />As you are revising and proofreading, pay close attention to the precision of the definitions.<br />