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Chapter to read: Chapter 9 NOTE: We have TWO assignments due in this section – the Extended Definition AND the Technical Description. This week we examine two integral items in any piece of technical documentation – definitions and descriptions. If you look at any technical document you produce or receive, chances are good that they contain one or the other or both. Definitions and Descriptions are fundamental to business communication. They help readers understand concepts and often incorporate graphics. Definitions help readers understand what you mean by a word or phrase. Descriptions are similar but different. Descriptions usually provide a fuller picture of an object, a mechanism, or a process. If the description focuses on an object, it usually gives details about components of the object. If it is about a process, it centers on stages or steps of the process. We’ll take a closer look at definitions first. DEFINITIONS IN TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION: Definitions are essential to business and industry – this is particularly true in a legal or contractual context. Defining the extent of your work or the scope of your responsibility is something we all do whenever our bosses or clients assign us a new task. Definitions also clarify a description of a new development or a new technology in a technical field and can help specialists or technical experts communicate with less knowledgeable readers. The process for writing definitions is the same process we’ve discussed before. The first step is to analyze the writing situation. Who is your audience? How much expertise do they have on the subject? What is your purpose? Do you simply need a definition, or do you need to explain a process or concept? If you need a definition, you need to determine type of definition you need. The type is determined by the purpose; whether you want to give your reader a brief explanation, a basic understanding or a thorough explanation or understanding. There are three types of definitions: Parenthetical : A parenthetical definition is a brief clarification placed within a sentence. For example: “The institutional position is the hegemonic (dominant) position.” In this example, the word “dominant” in parentheses defines what the word “hegemonic” means…although if we write simply and clearly, we would just choose to use the word dominant to begin with…”hegemonic” is a word I come across a lot in the academic articles I read – but academics are kind of famous for using ten dollar words when a one dollar word will suffice. But, I digress. Parenthetical definitions serve as a quick and convenient way of introducing terms. Parenthetical definitions may be in parenthesis; for example: “The crane is located on the starboard (right) side of the ship.” They may also be set apart by commas as in “Motor boating is permitted in the Jamesport Estuary, the portion of the bay that meets the mouth of the Jamesport River.” In this example, the last
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part of the sentence, after the comma, is the parenthetical definition. Parenthetical
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This note was uploaded on 03/18/2012 for the course ITEC 3290 taught by Professor Dunn during the Spring '12 term at East Carolina University .

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