Technical and Business Writing for Working Professionalsby Ray E. Hardesty
Author Biography: Ray E. Hardesty
Working professionals have been left in the lurch during the past decade, as organizations have downsized their writing staffs or eliminated them altogether. More and more, the writing tasks are falling on technical professionals, managers, etc. If you find yourself in that situation . . . this is the book to get you through!
Author Biography: Ray E. Hardesty has been a writer and editor in business, industry, and academia for the past twenty years, including nine years in the U.S. space program. Prior to that, he worked as a newspaper and trade magazine journalist. He holds a degree in English from Augustana College and a master's degree in political economy from Oregon State University. He has presented papers at international technical communication conferences, and for three years he was the Book Review Editor for the journal Technical Communication. His professional interests include the teaching of writing to technical and business professionals and the expansion of the role of technical communicators into areas such as video and Webcast scriptwriting and multimedia writing.
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Review of: Technical and Business Writing for Working Professionals by Ray E. Hardesty (Review appeared in Technical Communication: The Journal of the Society for Technical Communication, May 2002. Reviewed by Laura A. MacLamale, M.A.) As industries evolve, so do the roles of employees. For example, the e-commerce evolution marked a need for corporate Webmasters, and employees had to adopt the skills necessary to assume a corporate Internet presence. In the evolving corporate structure and workplace, non-technical employees may need to acquire technical skills, and technical employees may need to acquire skills in information design and writing. This concept of technical employees acquiring writing skills is the principal focus of Technical and Business Writing for Working Professionals, written by Ray E. Hardesty, former book review editor of Technical Communication. Hardesty credits the ¿change¿in the business world¿ with placing writing responsibilities ¿on the shoulders of professionals for whom writing is not their primary specialty.¿ The author states his goal up front: ¿to serve the audience of working professionals who may need a concise refresher course on the use of the English language in general and the use of language in the professional world in particular.¿ At 229 pages, including an index, the book is a fairly quick read. It¿s divided into three main parts: ¿Basics of English, ¿Technical Writing,¿ and ¿Business Writing.¿ Each of these main sections consists of several separate lessons, and each lesson has a ¿Memory Solidifier¿ at the end for self-quizzing. ¿Basics of English¿ provides an overview of standards of the language, with emphasis on parts of speech and sentence structure. ¿Technical Writing¿ offers a discussion of standards and styles that establish the ideal approach to your audience. ¿Business Writing¿ contains suggested approaches to communicating in industry, from electronic memos to oral presentations. The first section is intended as a primer for busy professionals and students with more experience on the technical side than the writing side. Hardesty breaks the section into chapters based on the parts of speech. Although the general discussion of various components of grammar is helpful, some of the examples could be stronger to directly clarify the concepts that they are intended to support. For writing professionals, the section is more of a resource to consult occasionally for the basics. My copy has some highlighted notes on some concepts that need reinforcement from time to time. (Reminders on the proper uses of that and which, and restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses are always appreciated.) The second section, ¿Technical Writing,¿ highlights the ¿rules¿ of good technical writing. This section is aimed at technical employees who are familiar with the content but not with the task of explaining it to a non-technical audience. Here you will find practical advice about acronyms, units of measure, syntax and usage, and other writing conventions. This section also emphasizes the need to ¿Visualize your readers!¿ This consideration is necessary for all technical writers, but especially for those who are familiar with communicating advanced technical concepts with other subject matter experts but not to a non-technical audience. The third section, ¿Business Writing,¿ is the strongest. All types of business communication are discussed here, from e-mail and letters, to reports and proposals. The author again stresses the importance of ¿visualizing your audience¿ across the various media. The chapter on the internal report is relevant to both technical and non-technical writers who are required to write white papers in their jobs. (White papers describe a product, service, or technology, and are usually circulated within an organization to influence a business decision.) Those who are charged with writing them would find applicable information on organization and content he