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Basic Techniques in Technical Writing
Transcript of Basic Techniques in Technical Writing
Description of a Mechanism
Description of a Process
Technical writing is replete with techincal terms that need to be defined.
It is a must to define scientific terms to allow for better comprehension.
These difficult words may come in the form of kwon words used in a differently new sense (as fly-over). New wordsfor already known things (as somnambulist for sleepwalker). and new words for unknown things (as schizophrenia).
The Amplified (Extended or Expanded) definition comes in the form of additional sentences that support a formal definition which becomes the topic sentence of a paragraph with definition as method of development. The Amplified (Extension or Exansion) is done in any of the following ways:
The writer of an expository text cannot assume that the reader or listener has a prior knowledge or prior understanding of the topic that is being discussed. Since clarity requires strong organization, on of the most important mechanisms to improve skills in exposition is to improve the organization of the text.
Basic Techniques in Technical Writing
Four Techniques are of Special Importance in Technical Writing:
When one defines, he gives the meaning of a certain term. The writer ma define a word in any of three ways: informal (word or phrase) definiton, formal (sentence) definition, and amplified (extended or expanded) definition
An informal definition comes in the form of a word or a phrase oftentimes called a synonym.
For example, word seism is defined by giving earthquake as an appositive. The word compensation and renumeration can be made simpler by writing pay or the word inundation by mentioning flood.
A Formal or sentence definition, as its name suggests is in the form of a sentence with these three elements: species, genus, and differentia/e.
The Species is the term defined; the genus is the class or kind to which the term belongs; the differentia or differentiae are the distinguishing characteristics that make the term different from other terms of the same class.
A Somnambulist is a person who walks while asleep.
A Somniloquist is a person who talks while asleep.
A Thermometer is an instrument that measures temperature
A Barometer is an instrument that measure atmospheric pressure.
Note that the species, the genus, and the linking verb are singular in form and that the differentia is introduced by a relative pronoun.
(Who, That, Which, Whose, Whom, Etc.)
The Formal definition is described so because it follows the form:
Species = Genus and Differentia (S = G + D).
The equal sign can be translated to
Function - use of the thing defined;
Location - placement/position of the thing defined;
Physical Description - physical traits 9color, size, shape, etc.) of the thing define;
Further Definition - definition of words in the formal definition of the thing defined;
Causation - causes or effects of the thing defined;
Comparison - similarities of the thing defined with another thing;
Contrast - differences of the thing defined from another thing;
Exemplification - concrete examples of the thing defined;
Etymology/word Derivation - words from which the thing defined was derived;
Analysis - parts of the thing defined;
Basic Principle - law or principle governing the thing defined; and
Negation - negative statements about the thing defined.
A definer faces several problems. One of these is the placement of the definitions. He can choose from among these alternatives; in the tex (most common), in the footnotes, in a glossary, and in a special section in the introduction ( least common).
Another problem is diction or word coice. He has to select the appropriate words to make his meaning clear. For instance, given the following wxamples, the best definition of a square is the last.
A square is a geometric figure which has four equal sides.
A square is a polygon which has four equal sides.
A square is a quadrilateral which has equal sides.
A square is a quadrilateral which has four equal sides.
A square is an equilateral figure which has four equal sides.
A square is a rectangle which has equal sides.
The word Rectangle is the most appropriate genus because a rectangle is a four-sided polygon with right angles and because what distinguishes a square from other rectangles is its equal sides.
Two other problems encountered by a definer are the repetition of key terms and the use of a single example or instance.
It is not good to defined fixed assets by saying that they are assets which are fied and to defined smooth muscles by saying that they are muscles which are smooth.
Classification & Partition
Classification is the act of locating a specimen of all the different kinds of objects that posses a given characteristic or characteristics.
Initially, classification must begin with the recognition that different things osses similar characteristics.
The classifier notes the structural and functional relationships among things that constitute a class.
Genus and Species
A genus is a class; a species is a subdivision within a class. These two terms are very commonly used, but many others can be used if a more complex classification is needed.
-physical science, natural science, applied scinece, social science
-physical, analytical, biochemistry, organic and inorganic
-PC, dekstop, laptop, netbook, mainframe
-reptile, amphibians, insects, mammals
Partition is the act of dividing a unit into its components.
The parts do not have necessarily had anything in common beyond the fact that they belong to the same unit.
-one atom of oxygen; 2 atoms of hydrogen
-brain, stomach, kidney, skin, intestines
-crust, mantle, inner core, outer core
-bibliography, table of contents, index, cover
-living room, dining room, bed room,
Classification vs. Partition
The purpose of classification is to divide a group of items (things) into a smaller number of groups, whereas Partition is to take one item and divide it into a number of parts.
Classification always deals with several (at least two) units. Partition deals with the parts of only one unit.
In Classification, they are the classes, types, categories, or groups of the subject. in partition, they are the parts, steps of a process, features, or characteristics of the subject.
CLASSIFICATION (Group) PARTITION (Parts)
butter cake, chiffon cake, angel cake, fruit cake, coffee cake
application, business, inquiry, order, employment, instruction
income statement, balance sheet, statement of changes in equity, notes to financial statement, cash flows.
(monocotyledon & dicotyledon)
egg, butter, flour, sugar, yeast, milk, water salt, starch, chocolate
heading, deadline, inside address, salutation, body, complementary close
assets, liabilities, equity, income, expense
crown, leaves, twigs, branch, trunk, roots
Basis and Logical Division
Basis shows how we should classify the subject. It is usually introduced by the phrases "according to," "depending on," or "on the basis of."
Logical Division is use to group related items accordings to some quality they have in common. It divides in such a way that we can focus on the topics for discussion.