“Correct English usage for effective technical writing” is of paramount importance, as it helps in increasing the clarity of report.
Science of Technical Writing
Before we proceed ahead, let us see what George Gohen and Judith Swan had to say on “ Science of Scientific Writing”. It is given below.
- The fundamental purpose of scientific discovery is not the mere presentation of information and thought.
- Rather, it is actual communication.
- The most important aspect as per them is that reading audience should be able to perceive it correctly.
We should always keep in mind this simple purpose of effective technical writing .
Poorly written paragraphs, poor sentences, along with use of wrong words, may spell doom on the report. It may destroy the very purpose of a technical report of conveying clear cut information to the reader.
We are aware that words and grammar constitute language. The aspects of language, which are important as effective technical writing are
Let us discuss, now, how we have to take care of all these aspects in effective technical writing.
Syntax is a form of grammar. We may define it as the format consisting of arrangement of words to create a sentence, to convey a meaning.
The later part is very important, and we should always remember it in technical writing.
Adequate use of punctuation is key to technical writing.
We may use the punctuation marks for dividing writing into sentences and phrases.
For detailed information , readers may refer to the following book.
"High School English Grammar and Composition By P C Wren and H Martin"
It is the choice and use of words and phrases in writing. We should exercise due care in diction for effective technical writing. There are few examples, as given below.
We should avoid use of wrong words.
We should also take the following precautions :
– Words should say, what we mean
– Avoid indiscriminate use of thesaurus
Avoid Clichés in technical writing
A cliché is a trite phase or expression. We also define it as a phrase or idea that has been used so many times, that it has no longer any real meaning or interest.
The following clichés often appear in technical writing and we should try to avoid them.
– Science tell us
– I would go so far as to say that
– Last but not the least
– Thus, I have shown
– In conclusion, I would like to say
Avoid Jargons in technical writing
Jargons have two meanings.
The first one is the special vocabulary developed by expert in a particular field. Except in communication between experts in the same field, we should try to avoid jargons.
Jargons may also mean a dialect composed of words taken from two or more languages.
We incorrectly use some word groups so often that their meaning becomes blurred. Following list may help to sensitize you to the problem.
There is a great temptation, mostly among the inexperienced, to trot out long words, in place of more exact short ones. The list given below is short, but it may help to sensitize you to the class in general.
4. Paragraph development
In a paragraph, make it easy for the reader to identify the central idea. Then we should try to explain the central idea in sufficient detail. Further, show to the reader, the importance of central idea in relation to others.
We should also try to inter-connect all the paragraphs in a section/chapter.
5. Active /passive voice
In technical writing, we usually use passive voice.
6. Tense of scientific/technical writing
The general rule for scientific/technical writing is as given below:
- The general rule is to write established knowledge in the present tense and describe our own work in past tense.
- Different sections of the report are written in present tense.
- Introduction and conclusions are written in present tense.
- Abstract, Experimental and Results are written in past tense.
- In writing Discussions, both present and past tenses are used
- The author may use his own judgement in light of general rule given above.
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