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Technical writing

The up-to-date version of this material is now in pdf format here.

This document describes the basic principles of good writing. It is primarily targeted at students and researchers writing technical and business reports, but the principles are relevant to any form of writing, including letters and memos. Therefore, the document contains valuable lessons for anybody wishing to improve their writing skills. The ideas described are, apart from fairly minor exceptions, not original. They are drawn from a range of excellent books and have also been influenced by various outstanding authors I have worked with. Thus, the approach represents a kind of modern consensus. This approach is very different to the style that was promoted by the traditional English schools’ system, which encouraged students to write in an unnecessarily complex and formal way. The approach described here emphasises simplicity (‘plain English’) and informality. For example, it encourages shorter sentences and use of the simplest words and phrases possible. It explains how you can achieve simplicity by using the active rather than the passive style, personal rather than impersonal style, and by avoiding noun constructs in favour of verbs. Crucially, this approach leads to better reports because they are much easier to read and understand.

Humorous stuff



home_side_Button.jpg (3716 bytes) Norman Fenton website last updated on 25 March, 2004.
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