Elements of Technical Writing

( 2 )


The essential guide to writing clear, concise proposals, reports, manuals, letters, memos, and other documents in every technical field. Includes a section with examples and text that address the specialized writing problems of systems analysts and software engineers.

This essential guidebook covers the fundamentals of writing for technical professions. The short, easy-to-use book outlines the major principles of technical writing and is filled with examples from ...

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The essential guide to writing clear, concise proposals, reports, manuals, letters, memos, and other documents in every technical field. Includes a section with examples and text that address the specialized writing problems of systems analysts and software engineers.

This essential guidebook covers the fundamentals of writing for technical professions. The short, easy-to-use book outlines the major principles of technical writing and is filled with examples from real situations, as well as tips on writing reports and user manuals.

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Editorial Reviews

The authors are expert, and their concise treatment hits the essentials, including matters of style, some rules of punctuation and grammar, principles of technical communication, word choice, and various tasks of the technical writer. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780020130857
  • Publisher: Longman
  • Publication date: 12/28/1993
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 444,046
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents




1.Fundamentals of Effective Technical Writing.

What Is Technical Writing?

Good Technical Writing Is … .

2.How to Write Numbers, Units of Measure, Equations, and Symbols.


1. Write Out All Numbers below 10.

2. When Two or More Numbers Are Presented in the Same Section of Writing, Write Them as Numerals.

3. Write Large Numbers in the Form Most Familiar to Your Audience and Easiest to Understand.

4. Place a Hyphen between a Number and Unit of Measure When They Modify a Noun.

5. Use the Singular When Fractions and Decimals of One or Less Are Used as Adjectives.

6. Write Decimals and Fractions as Numerals, Not Words.

7. Treat Decimal Representations Consistently, Especially When Presenting Them in Columns, Rows, or Groups.

8. Do Not Inflate the Degree of Accuracy by Writing Decimals with Too Many Digits.

9. If a Number Is an Approximation, Write It Out.

10. Spell Out One of Two Numbers -- Usually the Shorter — That Appear Consecutively in a Phrase.

11. Do Not Begin a Sentence with Numerals.

Units of Measure.

12. Keep All Units of Measure Consistent.

13. Use the Correct Units for the System of Measurement You Have Chosen.

14. Write Basic Units of Measure in Work Form, Derived Units of Measure as Symbols.

15. Indicate Multiplication of Units with a Raised Dot ( ), Division with a Slash (/).

16. Write Secondary Units in Parentheses after the Primary Units.


17. Use Too Few, Rather Than Too Many Equations.

18. Center and Number Equations on a Separate Line in Your Document Unless They Are Short and Simple.

19. Keep All Equal Signs, Division Lines, Fractions Lines, Multiplication Lines, Plus Signs, and Minus Signs on the Same Level.

20. Punctuate Words Used to Introduce Equations Just as You Would Words Forming Part of Any Sentence.


21. Use Too Few Rather Than Too Many Symbols.

22. Define the Symbols You Use.

23. Avoid Duplication of Symbols.

24. Fit Symbols Grammatically into the Structure of Your Sentence.

3.A Few Useful Rules of Punctuation, Grammar, Abbreviation, and Capitalization.

25. Hyphenate Two Words Compounded to Form an Adjective Modifier.

26. Hyphenate Two Adjacent Nouns if They Are Both Necessary to Express a Single Idea.

27. In a Series of Three or More Terms with a Single Conjunction, Use a Comma After Each except the Last.

28. Omit the Period at the End of a Parenthetical Expression within a Sentence; Retain It if the Entire Parenthetical Expression Stands Alone.


29. Avoid Dangling Participles.

30. Avoid Run-On Sentences.

31. Avoid Sentence Fragments.


32. Spell Out Abbreviations at Their First Appearance, and Use Too Few Rather Than Too Many.

33. Omit Internal and Terminal Punctuation in Abbreviations.

34. The Abbreviation for a Specific Word or Phrase Takes the Same Case (upper case or lower case) as the Word or Phrase.

35. Avoid Using Signs in Writing (" for inch, ' for foot), except When Expressing Information in Tables.


36. Capitalize Trade Names.

37. Do Not Capitalize Words to Emphasize Their Importance.

38. Capitalize the Full Names of Government Agencies, Companies, Departments, Divisions, and Organizations.

39. Capitalize All the Proper Nouns Unless Usage Has Made Them So Familiar That They Are No Longer Associated with the Original Name.

4.Principles of Technical Communication.

40. Use the Active Voice.

41. Use Plain Rather Than Elegant or Complex Language.

42. Delete Words, Sentences, and Phrases That Do Not Add to Your Meaning.

43. Use Specific and Concrete Terms Rather Than Vague Generalities.

44. Use Terms Your Reader Can Picture.

45. Use the Past Tense to Describe Your Experimental Works and Results.

46. In Most Other Writing, Use the Present Tense.

47. Make the Technical Depth of Your Writing Compatible with the Background of Your Reader.

48. Break Up Your Writing into Short Sections.

49. Keep Ideas and Sentence Structure Parallel.

50. Opt for an Informal Rather Than Formal Style.

5.Words and Phrases Commonly Misused in Technical Writing.

Technical Words and Jargon.

Big Words.

Wordy Phrases.



Overblown Phrases.

The Rise of -Ize.

Nouns as Adjectives.

Misused and Troublesome Words and Phrases.

In Conclusion … .


6.Proposals and Specifications.


What Is a Proposal?


7.Technical Articles, Papers, Abstracts, and Reports.

Technical Articles and Papers.



8.Letters and Memos.



Tips on Writing Letters and Memos.

A Words about E-Mail.

9.Manuals and Documentation.

Types of Manuals.

Guidelines to Help You Write Better Manuals.

Appendix A: Writing in the Systems Environment.Appendix B: A Brief Guide to Software for Writers.Index.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2007

    Great for Beginning Writers or Anyone Who Needs a Quick Review

    Blake and Bly have written a concise handbook that gives rules and suggestions for English usage in technical writing. It's very helpful for anyone who hasn't learned, or can't quite remember, what the rules are.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2001

    Okay for Grammar Generalities

    For me, this book was a let down. I was expecting to find tips regarding block diagrams, schematics, tables, charts, spec sheets, outline layouts, warning and caution symbols, screen shots, and advice regarding electronic documents. None of these aspects are covered. Writing examples are of letters, not technical manual pages. This is really a book on 'technical grammar.'

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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