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BASIC TECHNIQUES IN TECHNICAL WRITING

DEFINITION

Informal definition
- comes in a word or a phrase oftentimes called a synonym.

Examples:
1. Lieu - place
2. Embellish or Adorn - decorate
3. Novice - rookie
4. Clever - smart or intelligent
5. Amenable - agreeable
6. Counterfeit - fake
7. Apothecary - pharmacist
8. Circumvent - avoid
9. Eccentric - abnormal
10 Partisan - biased

Formal or Sentenced definition


- as its name suggests, is in the form of sentence with these three elements :species (the term defined ), genus ( class or
kind to which the term belongs ), and the differentia (the distinguishing characteristics that make the term different from
other terms of the same class).

Examples:
1. Entomology is the branch of science that is concerned with the study of insects
2. Ichthyology is the branch of science that deals with the study of fishes
3. An isocracy is a form of government where all citizens have equal political power
4. A monarchy is a form of government in which the office of head of state is a King or a Queen and is usually hereditary or, in some
cases, elected and which includes a royal house
5. Joule is the SI derived unit used to measure energy or work (SI-International System)
6. Kelvin is the SI derived unit used to measure temperature (SI - International System)
7. Amnesia is a condition in which memory is disturbed or lost
8. Dementia a condition that is a serious loss of cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected
from normal aging
9. Coquina is a sedimentary rock formed by accumulation of abundant shell fossils and fragments
10. Lignite is a sedimentary rock composed of organic material

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 a method of development.

Examples:
1. Gas is one of the three states of matter who fills its container regardless of the shape. ( basic principle )
2. Economics comes from the Greek word oikonomia which means ,management of a household.( Etymology )
3. Metamorphic rock is a type of rock that was once one form of rock but has changed to another under the influence of heat,
pressure, or some other agent without passing through a liquid phase. ( physical description )
4. Smoke is the visible vapor and gases given off by a burning or smoldering substance, especially the gray, brown, or blackish
mixture of gases and suspended carbon particles resulting from the combustion of wood, peat, coal, or other organic matter.
(physical description )
5. Recycle is to treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse: example is a pillow made of pieces
plastics. (exemplification)

Basic Techniques of Technical Writing

Definition
1. Formal Definition
-(is preferred because of the need for more precision in its wording.)
Three part of Formal Definition: term, genus, and differentia.

a. Term

The word to be defined.


Rules for Definition
2. Informal Definition
-consist of one or more synonymous expressions substituted for the unfamiliar term used.
1.1 Classification of Definition
1.2 Rules for Definition
1.3 Methods of Expanding a Formal Definition
1.4 Placement of Definition in Reports
Rule No.1. Try to use simple terms.
Not this: A network is anything reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the
interactions.
Good: A network is a complex system of electrical wires or channels that interlace or cross like the fabric of a net.
Rule No.2. If the term being defined is a noun, the word after is should also be a noun. Dont begin your definition
with when, what or where.
Not this: Soldering is when metal surfaces are joined by using melted metal or metallic alloy.
Good: Soldering is the process of joining metal surfaces using melted metal or metallic alloy.

1.1 Classification of Definition


1. Formal Definition
Term
Genus
Differentia

2. Informal Definition

Basic Techniques of Technical Writing


Uses words to fix the meaning of a thing or to make it definite. The short definition (a paragraph or a single
sentence is essential in technical writing.

The need for defining occurs when the report uses technical terms which are not familiar to the reader.

b. Genus
is the group or class to which the term belong.
c. Differentia
is the part of the formal definition which states the distinctive characteristics of the term distinguishing it from other
members of the same class.
Rule No.3. In defining a term, avoid using the term itself or any of its derivatives.

Note this: A parallelogram is a quadrilateral with parallel sides.


Good: A parallelogram is a quadrilateral with opposite sides equal.
Rule No.4 Dont put the term you are defining in too broad or too narrow a class.
Too broad: A crystal is something that glitters in the sun.
Too narrow: A crystal is a formation of quartz geometrically patterned.
Good: A crystal is a solid piece of matter in which the atoms, molecules or ions composing it are arranged in a
definite geometrical pattern.

Methods of Expanding a Formal Definition


1. Details
2. Examples or instances
2. Comparison, Contrast and Analogy
3. Word derivative

1. Details
A term can be clarified by the addition of related or supporting particulars. To define a mechanism, a vivid
description of its various parts will enable the reader to see it.
2. Examples or instances
General statements particularly abstract definitions are made more concrete when illustrations are cited.
3. Comparison, Contrast and Analogy
Analogy cites similarities. The reader is made to understand an unfamiliar object or idea by comparing it with
another object or idea more familiar to the reader. Using contrast, the differences of both objects are cited in order
to make the idea clear. Comparison combines the two methods by pointing out similarities and differences.
4. Word derivative
Extended definitions may be revealing and interesting because they explain the origin of the term or the idea.
Definitions such as these are seldom logically adequate, but they are often extremely useful illustrations for
clarification.
Placement of Definition in Reports
Definitions may be placed:
1. In the text itself
when the terms to be defined are not many and synonyms or appositives will suffice to make their meanings
clear;
2. In the footnote
when the report is to be read by a mixed group of readers, some of whom may know the terms used in the text;
3. In a special section in the introduction
when the terms are of critical importance in understanding the text of the report; and
4. In the glossary at the end of the report
when the inclusion of too many definitions in the itself would cause repeated interruptions, thereby causing the
reader to lose track of the topic being discussed.

4 Techniques of Technical Writing


FOUR TECHNIQUES IN TECHNICAL WRITING
Four techniques are of special importance in technical writing: DEFINITION, DESCRIPTION OF
MECHANISM, DESCRIPTION OF A PROCESS, and CLASSIFICATION. These techniques are not types of
reports and it is important to remember that these techniques usually appear in a single report. It
would be exceptional to find an entire report, even a short one, only one of these techniques. For
example, two containing or more techniques might be closely interwoven as a writer described the
design, construction, and operation of a mechanism. The intermingling of these techniques, however,
does not alter the basic principles of their use. These techniques can be studied most effectively by
taking one technique at a time.

1.Definition
In technology, words have precise, specific meanings; therefore there is a need for defining a technical
term clearly. The extent to which a term should be defined or the length of a definition depends on the
writer's purpose and the knowledge level of the reader.
Before going to the problem of "how to define", it is better to "think about what should be defined
first." It is not possible of course, to set up an absolute list of terms and ideas that would require
definition, not even for a specific body of readers, but it is possible and desirable to clarify the point of
view from which the problem of definition should be attacked.
The relationships of words to the ideas and things for which they stand can become very complex.
However, there is a simple and helpful way of classifying words, as they will appear to your reader. The
words will fall into one of the following categories:
1. Familiar words for familiar things
2. Familiar words for unfamiliar things
3. Unfamiliar words for familiar things
4. Unfamiliar words for unfamiliar things

2.Description of a Mechanism
A mechanism is generally defined as any object or system that has a working part or parts. Most often
the term suggests tools, instruments, and machines. But other examples of mechanisms could be the
human body and systems like the universe or a city, which is composed of parts that work together like
parts of a machine. A technical man constantly works with mechanisms and always needs to
understand them; what they do, what they look like, what parts they have, and how these parts work
together.
There are three fundamental divisions of the description and these are the introduction, the part-by-
part description, and the conclusion.
Because the description of a mechanism seldom constitutes an article or report by itself, the
introduction required is usually rather simple. The two elements that need most careful attention are:
1. the initial presentation of the mechanism
2. the organization of the description

3.Description of a Process
A process is a series of actions, and fundamentally the description of a process is the description of
action. The action may be either one of two types. One type is that in which attention is focused on the
performance of a human being, or possibly a group of human beings. A simple example is filing a
workpiece by hand; in a description of this process, emphasis would fall naturally upon the human
skills required. The other type involves action in which a human operator either is not directly
concerned at all, or inconspicuous. An instance is the functioning of a contactor.
In describing almost any process, regardless of types there are problems that usually arises and these
are:
1. adaptation of the description to the reader
2. overall organization
3. use of illustrations

4.ClassificationClassification is the orderly, systematic arrangement of related things in accordance


with a governing principle or basis. The classifier notes the structural and functional relationships
among things that constitute a class. In recording this relationships, the classifier employs certain
conventional terms. Acquaintance with these convenient terms will make the rest easy to follow.

5 principles of technical writing


Five Basic Principles of Good Technical Writing

The five basic principles of good technical writing could be taken as the foundation on which further
development of the skills in writing should be developed. Comments by different authors of technical
writing books refer to these principles as so important that in fact it should comprise the basics of
technical writing. However, these principles are so basic and important that it encompasses the whole
development of the subject, technical writing.

1. Always have in mind a specific reader, real or imaginary, when you are writing a report; and always
assume that this reader is intelligent, but uninformed.
2. Before you start to write, always decide what the exact purpose of your report is; and make sure
that every paragraph, every sentence, every word, makes a clear contribution to that purpose, and
makes it at the right time.
3. Use language that is simple, concrete, and familiar.
4. At the beginning and end of every section of your report check your writing according to this
principle: First you tell your readers what you are going to tell them, then you tell them, and then you
tell them what you have told them."
5. Make your report attractive to look at.

5 Basic Techniques in Technical Writing

Mechanism Descriptionexplains the arrangement and shape of an object in space. Such a description
may involve movement, complex motions are better handled with the process description. Typically,
the parts of mechanism description answer the following questions in order:
What is it?
What is its function?
What does it look like?
How does it work?
What are its principal parts?
Give a detailed description of each part.
Each of these parts may require a mechanism description of its own.
Process Descriptionexplains the arrangement of a sequence in chronological order. In organization, it is
similar to mechanism description, except that the "part-by-part" becomes step by step:
What is it?
What is its function?
Where and when does it take place?
Who or what performs it?
How does it work?
What are its principal steps? [2]
Process description includes sequence, instructions and procedure; however, only instruct if you expect
your reader to perform the process you describe. Try to keep separate these two concepts: "How to do
something" and "How something occurs" The first calls for instructions or procedure; the second, for
sequence.
Classificationinvolves grouping things together (on the basis of similarities) and dividing them
(according to differences). Classification assists in the complete consideration of a topic .Note the
danger of Faulty Coordination.
Partitionis the act of dividing things into their component parts; very similar to classification, and an
inevitable part of mechanism description and process description .Partition could be spatial (how each
part looks) or functional (how each part works).
Definitionuses words to fix the meaning of a thing -- to make it "definite". The short definition (a
paragraph or a single sentence) is essential to technical writing. For instance, the Mechanism
Description and the Process Description each begin with a call for a definition. A definition answers the
question "what is it?" Good definitions employ the following formula:
species = genus + differentia thing to be defined = group to whichthe thing belongs + specific details
that separate itfrom other things in its group A batten is a tapered piece of wood that fits into a pocket
in the trailing edgeof a sail, helping it hold the shapethat allows it to propel a boat.
Sometimes definitions might be much longer than one sentence, in which case you are still trying to
answer "what is it?" but will be using most other patterns to help answer it: you can define by
describing, classifying, comparing, etc.
Posted by ervin at 8:32 PM 0 comments

Definition
uses words to fix the meaning of a thing -- to make it "definite". The short definition (a paragraph or a
single sentence) is essential to technical writing. For instance, the Mechanism Description and the
Process Description each begin with a call for a definition. A definition answers the question "what is
it?" Good definitions employ the following formula:
species = genus + differentia thing to be defined = group to whichthe thing belongs + specific details
that separate itfrom other things in its group A batten is a tapered piece of wood that fits into a pocket
in the trailing edgeof a sail, helping it hold the shapethat allows it to propel a boat.
Sometimes definitions might be much longer than one sentence, in which case you are still trying to
answer "what is it?" but will be using most other patterns to help answer it: you can define by
describing, classifying, comparing, etc.
Posted by ervin at 8:32 PM 0 comments

Partition
is the act of dividing things into their component parts; very similar to classification, and an inevitable
part of mechanism description and process description .Partition could be spatial (how each part looks)
or functional (how each part works).
Posted by ervin at 8:30 PM 0 comments

Classification
involves grouping things together (on the basis of similarities) and dividing them (according to
differences). Classification assists in the complete consideration of a topic .Note the danger of Faulty
Coordination.
Posted by ervin at 8:30 PM 0 comments

Techniques of Technical Writing (Definition)


Four techniques are of special importance in technical writing: definition, description of a mechanism,
description of a process, and classification. These techniques are not types of reports and it is
important to remember that these techniques usually appear in a single report. It would be exceptional
to find an entire report, even a short one, containing only one of these techniques. For example, two or
more techniques might be closely interwoven as a writer described the design, construction, and
operation of a mechanism. The intermingling of these techniques, however, does not alter the basic
principles of their use. These techniques can be studied most effectively by taking one technique at a
time. The treatment of these techniques will stress the practical rather than the theoretical,
particularly in the subjects on definition and classification.In technology, words have precise, specific
meanings; therefore there is a need for defining a technical term clearly. The extent to which a term
should be defined or the length of a definition depends on the writer's purpose and the knowledge
level of the reader. Before going to the problem of "how to define", it is better to "think about what
should be defined first." It is not possible of course, to set up an absolute list of terms and ideas that
would require definition, not even for a specific body of readers, but it is possible and desirable to
clarify the point of view from which the problem of definition should be attacked. The relationships of
words to the ideas and things for which they stand can become very complex. However, there is a
simple and helpful way of classifying words, as they will appear to your reader. The words will fall into
one of the following categories:1. Familiar words for familiar things2. Familiar words for unfamiliar
things3. Unfamiliar words for familiar things4. Unfamiliar words for unfamiliar things

DEFINITION Contrast (Differences), Analogy(similarities)


4. Word derivative origin of the term ;
TYPES OF DEFINITION etymology

I. Informal one or more synonymous PLACEMENT OF DEFINITION


expressions 1. Text itself within the paragraph
2. Footnote
II. Formal 3 parts: 3. In a special section, in the introduction
a. Term 4. In the glossary, End of the report
b. Genus
c. Differential PARTITION
Analysis that divides item
RULES IN DEFINITION into parts, steps or aspects
1. Use of simple words Plural/ classified
2. If the term is Noun the word after is Singular / partitioned
is also a noun.
3. Dont begin with 3Ws (What, When, Where) PRINCIPLES:
4. Avoid using the term itself or its 1. Division must coordinate
derivative. 2. Mutually exclusive
5. Dont put the term to broad or narrow 3. Must not overlap
4. Must be complete
METHODS OF EXPANDING
FORMAL DEFINITION CLASSIFICATION
1. Details addition of sentences particulars Systematic process of dividing
2. Examples/Instances made more concrete; material into kinds of classes
illustrations are sited Categorize
3. Comparison(contrast + analogy), Grouping similar types into small parts
A mechanism is an assemble of
PRINCIPLES:
1. Classify consistently on a movables having one part fixed with respect
single basis which points to a fundamental
distinctions among the member of the class to a frame of reference an designed to
Ex. Characteristics; features produce an effect
2. The basis should further the purpose Example: How an object works
of controlling it
3. Should not overlap. Distinct
and separate DESCRIPTION OF PROCESS
Ex. According to time Series of steps to get
4. Name species according to a something done (process)
given basis Example: Making soap

DESCRIPTION OF MECHANISM