Technical Writing

Technical Writing - Technical Writing Copyright 1988 1999...

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Technical Writing Copyright 1988, 1999 by Ronald B. Standler (edited by Art MacCarley for presentation in EE 111, Cal Poly) From: http://www.rbs0.com/tw.htm Also suggest: http://www.io.com/~hcexres/textbook/ Style Manuals Because I do not intend this document to be a comprehensive list of everything that one needs to know about grammar and style, I begin with an annotated list of my favorite reference and textbooks in this area. There are many good books – I have deliberately made this list short, because most scientists and engineers are not interested in technical writing. G.L. Kittredge and F.E. Farley: An Advanced English Grammar originally published by Ginn in 1913, reprinted by AMS Press in New York City in 1972. Teaching formal grammar became unfashionable in many schools in the USA in the 1970s, which has had disastrous consequences for the ability of professionals in the USA to produce erudite prose. The lack of modern reference books means that one must rely on old grammar books, like this one. This old book even contains conjugation of the verb to be for four tenses of the subjunctive mood. There are still some judges that use subjunctive mood for contrary-to-fact statements in writing their opinions, but use of the subjunctive seems to be rare in most other writings by American authors. Strunk & White Strunk and White: The Elements of Style first edition privately printed by Prof. Strunk at Cornell University in 1918. His former student, E.B. White, revised this book in 1959, when it was first published by Macmillan. I highly recommend this book for two reasons: (1) it is terse and (2) the rules make sense. To Strunk's rules, I would add one fundamental rule: One should avoid constructions that are likely to be misunderstood, even if they are arguably "correct" according to a style manual or dictionary. It is not enough to make a document easy to read, it should also be difficult to misunderstand. For example:
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1. Strunk and White's rule 15 about putting statements in positive form is just a special case of my fundamental rule. 2. Say "flammable" instead of "inflammable", because the latter word is likely to be misunderstood by someone who thinks the in - prefix always means not. 3. When writing for an international audience, which includes non-native speakers of English, make all sentences literally true (i.e., avoid idioms and colloquial phrases). I want to mention here three of Strunk and White's rules that are often violated: 1. My favorite rule (Strunk and White rule 17) is: "Omit needless words." Many words can be omitted from a first draft without affecting the meaning of sentences. The following italicized words are examples of needless words: definitely proved, orange in color viable alternative (it is not an alternative if it is nonviable!) worst-case maximum possible error. because
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This note was uploaded on 10/01/2008 for the course EE 111 taught by Professor Deany.arakaki during the Spring '07 term at Cal Poly.

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Technical Writing - Technical Writing Copyright 1988 1999...

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