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Hints for Writing Technical English

Technical english communications is the delivery of technical information to readers (or listeners or viewers) in a manner that is adapted to their needs, level of understanding, and background.

- Hints to consider when writing instructions
- Writing article thesis
- IT Technical English glossary; ICT4LT: English Glossary

Hints to consider when writing technical instructions

Writing the individual steps:

1. Know what you need to do.
2. Know who your audience is and what level of expertise you expect.
3. List what you need:  tools and materials.
4. Organize your instructions carefully.

Instruction Structure:

- Divide the project into steps.
- If the project involves more that 7 steps consider dividing the project into main processes, and then gives steps for completing each main process. - Use headings for each main process.

Process 1.  Finding the Index
                    Step 1.
                    Step 2.
                    Step 3....
Process 2.  Using the Index
                    Step 1
                    Step 2....

5.  Number each step

n Use chronological order.

6. Follow this basic pattern:
  è   Instruct.
  è Then describe. 
      o Show what happens?  (Use a figure if necessary)
      o Show what should it look like?

7.  Emphasize the result of each step or main process.
8.  Place warnings or notes at useful points.

n Use bold letters for warnings and notes:
Note: “Warnings” are stronger than “notes.”

Giving the instructions structure:

1.  Give your instructions a title: “How to ….”
2.   State the purpose of your instructions.
  n State this concisely on the first line after the instructions.
3. End with troubleshooting hints.
4. Use headings to show main topics/processes. Make the headings specific.

Writing the text:

1.  Use imperative (command) mode to instruct, but ....
2.  Use complete sentences to describe and explain your ideas.
3.  Do not use telegraphic English.

            Wrong:  Place nozzle in receptacle.
            Right:  Place the nozzle in the receptacle.

4.  If you give examples, be sure the readers understand whether you
        have given an example of what they must do or an example showing
        what they can do. 

Testing your instructions:

– Ask someone who doesn't know how to do the process to
        read and follow your instructions.

– Revise your instructions based on what your test shows.

Writing article thesis

1. Structure.

- Write an "article" thesis, with 50-100 pages in points 1-8, plus appendices as indicated.
- Begin each chapter with how it relates to other chapters, and end it with a small chapter summary.
- In final thesis writing, complete the abstract first to focus the rest.
- Please use figures, tables, bullet points etc. to make the reading easier.

2. General.

3. Write simple.

4. Spelling, use of words.

5. Use of comma and period.

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