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IT 311- Technical Writing and Presentation Skills

CHAPTER 1 What takes the place of the essay?

Introduction to Technical Writing 1
The answer is technical writingmemos, letters, reports, e-
Technical writing is any written form of writing or drafting mail, proposals, instructions, even web pages. Thats why
technical communication used in a variety of technical and technical writing is important. Technical writing is the type of
occupational fields, such as computer hardware and software, written communication that the students will be responsible
engineering, chemistry, aeronautics, robotics, finance, for on the job.
medical, consumer electronics, and biotechnology (Wikipedia,
2017). Is technical writing a necessary component of every
employees professional skill?
Technical writing is communication written for and
about business and industry, focusing on products and Daily, newspapers tell us that employers want to hire people
services: how to manufacture them, market them, who can communicate effectively, both in writing and orally.
manage them, deliver them, and use them (Gerson, 2015). Career counselors reiterate this.
In fact, we are told that on the job, an employee will
Technical writing is written: spend at least 20 percent of his or her time writing.
in the work environment (in the office, from 8:00 to This number increases as an employees
5:00, not counting overtime) responsibilities increase.
for supervisors, colleagues, subordinates, vendors, and Managers spend up to 50 percent of their time
customers writing.
CEOs spend between 80 and 100 percent of their
Technical writing, which must be understood easily and work week communicating.
quickly, includes:
memos and e-mail Communication Continuum
reports Connotative/Expressive
brochures and newsletters Type of Examples Traits
the job search Writing
web pages
Fliers Creative Poems, plays, Connotative and
PowerPoint presentations Writing stories expressive words,
Graphics fictional characters,
imagery, and plots
Technical writing is the resume that helps get a job and the
web page that promotes a company. In each case, the Expressive Narratives, Subjective, based on
technical document must be quantifiable, precise, and easily Writing descriptions personal experience,
understood. connotative and
expressive Words
Why is technical writing so important?
Expository Comparison/ Objective,
Writing contrast, connotative and
Technical writing is not literature; its neither prose which
analysis, denotative words
recounts the fictional tales of characters nor poetry which
expresses deeply felt, universal emotions through similes and
Technical writing is neither an expressive essay narrating an Journalism News stories, Objective, written
occurrence nor an expository essay analyzing a topic. features, from factual
editorials observation, short
Technical writing is not journalism, written to report the sentences and
news. paragraphs, some
connotative but
Technical writing does not focus on poetic images, describe more denotative
personal experiences, or report who won the basketball game. words

Instead, technical writing is: Technical Memos, Objective, written

an instructional manual for repairing machinery Writing letters, about products or
a memo listing meeting agendas reports, services, short
a letter from a vendor to a client instructions, sentences and
a recommendation report proposing a new computer resums, web paragraphs,
system pages denotative words
When the students are employed and have to write on the
job, will they write essays?

The answer is no. The students, when employed, will not

write essays at work. They will write essays while working on
their college degrees; they might even be asked to write an
essay on their job application when applying for work.
However, once the job begins, essays end.

IT 311- Technical Writing and Presentation Skills

Comparison/Contrast: Technical Writing vs. Essays 2. Grammar

Grammar is important in essays. It might be more 2
Components Technical Essays Summary important in technical writing. Whereas errors often can hide
Writing in longer essays, those same errors loom large in one page
memos or letters.
In a survey (Gerson) of over 700 technical writers (coast
Development Uses Uses Same for to coast) asked to list important aspects of correspondence,
examples, examples, both 98% ranked correct grammar as an essential component of
anecdotes, anecdotes, successful writing.
testimony, testimony, Grammar is not merely the concern of English teachers.
data, data, Professional writers and business people perceive it as
research research essential
3. Organization
Grammar It is It is Same for Essays employ topic sentences, transition between and
important! important! both within paragraphs, and a thesis statement. Technical writing
usually does not.
Organization Provides an Provides an Similar in In a memo, letter, or report, the thesis would be replaced
introduction, introduction, some by a subject line. The different aspects of organization help
body, and thesis ways, distinguish technical writing from essays.
conclusion statement, different Since paragraphs are shorter in technical writing (often
-Uses a body in between one to three sentences) than in many essays, topic
subject line paragraphs, others sentences are less important.
vs. a thesis transitional Transitional words and phrases in an essay can be
and words, replaced by an enumerated list, by a list of bullets, and/or by
itemization and topic headings and subheadings.
of points vs. sentences 4. Style
transitional Of greater importance is the different style (word usage,
words sentence structure, and paragraph length) used in essays
-Uses topic versus technical writing.
sentences Essays rely on longer, more connotative words; longer,
only more complex syntax; longer, more detailed paragraphs.
when Technical writing, in contrast, demands short, denotative
needed, words; short, simple sentences; short paragraphs with
dependent information clarified through graphics (pie charts, line
upon the graphs, etc.). It has everything to do with audience and
type and purpose.
length of The reader of technical writing does not have time, nor
corresponde necessarily an interest in the subject matter. Envision this
nce scenario. It is the night before Christmas, your children are
asleep, and you are trying to put together a Christmas
Style Uses short, Uses longer, Different presenta doll house, a train set, etc.
denotative connotative To assemble this present, you are sitting on the floor (you
words; words; have been sitting there for two hours, as your aching back
short longer attests). You are trying to read the complicated instructions
sentences; sentences; which accompanied the toy (those instructions are a type of
and short and longer technical writing). You do not enjoy the activity. In fact, you
paragraphs paragraphs just want to end the task and go to sleep. That is a typical
technical writing situation.
Technical Uses Not usually a Different
The same holds true when you read an instruction to install
Writing highlighting factor
software, build a cabinet, lay tile, or any other task. People do
not read technical writing, such as instructions, for pleasure.
such as
The writing is a means to an end. Thus, to help people
accomplish the task as quickly and as efficiently as possible,
the writing style should be conciseshort words, short
sentences, and short paragraphs.
5. Document Design
Document design refers to the physical layout of the
white space,
correspondence. Essays consist of words, words, and more
bullets, etc.
words, separated by indentations to create paragraphs.
Technical writing, in contrast, uses highlighting techniques
People read literature for pleasure, essays for enlightenment, and and graphics for visual appeal to help the reader access and
journalism for news. People read technical writing to accomplish a
understand the data.

Five Components of Writing Technical writing is written to a different audience for a

different purpose than essays. The reader of technical writing
1. Development does not have time, nor necessarily the interest in the subject
If you have to develop essays using such traditional matter.
means as examples, anecdotes, testimony, data, and
research, then teaching technical writing will not be
a strain. The same development techniques are
applicable when the students write memos, letters,
and reports.