Technical writing conventions

The main skill associated with technical communicationand perhaps the easiest aspect to explain to someone who is not so familiar with technical communicationis technical writing. Tell someone that you are a technical writer, you are more likely to receive a knowing nod.

Technical writing conventions

I edited a technical report for a gentleman who works for a government agency and has authored over papers.

Documentation - Are there standards/conventions used by IT technical writers? - Server Fault

He was highly respectful of all my editorial suggestions, but corrected me on one. I told him that he was bucking convention by using "we" throughout his report, and that the standard was to avoid using the term in technical writing, just as I had been told by others.

He assured me that he had "breezily been getting away with it" for 40 years, and I agreed just as breezily Technical writing conventions he should not change his practice after such a winning record.

Finally, I came away from our interaction with an important question: Was this scientist-author a maverick, or was he in fact practicing the customary?

The journals ranged from the international refereed European Journal of Mineralogy to the more advertising-driven Spray Technology and Marketing. To my surprise, in 32 out of the 40 journals, the authors indeed made Technical writing conventions use of "I" and "we" referred to grammatically as "the first person".

In one case an article in Water Resources Journalthe authors used "we" in nearly every paragraph. I realized then that I had been upholding a principle that was either outmoded or at least in flux, without considering the convention in the published literature. Nevertheless, addressing the issue here is not as simple as saying "go ahead and use the first person freely.

You can use the first person in an abstract or introduction to stress the foundations of your particular approach, express authorial intentions, or emphasize your scientific convictions: In this paper, I argue that.

Technical writing conventions

In contrast to other authors, we conclude that. In memos, especially when they involve one-on-one communication between you and one other party, use the first person and the word "you" as needed, in particular in the introduction and conclusion.

Use the first person plural "we" when you wish to include the reader as part of a collective, thinking body: We can agree that something must be done about the quality of care in HMO programs.

Limit your use of the first person so that you do not create circumstances requiring you to use it repeatedly. For example, by convention, avoid using the first person in the "Experimental" section of a technical report—if you begin to use "we" in this section, you would continually have to repeat its use for consistency.

Be particularly cautious with first-person terms suggesting ownership—e. By convention, you may use the first person plural "we" to introduce equations: We can calculate the green densities of the pellets with the equation.


Despite what I have outlined above, recognize that some professors and editors will adamantly reject the use of first person pronouns in technical writing. Revise accordingly when needed.

Then paste a paragraph together with "this" or "it" as a connecting word in nearly every sentence. Moreover, do not refer to anything specific with the "this" or "it"—keep the meaning vague. For the highly literal among you, please note that I have just employed mild sarcasm. Without realizing it, many writers habitually plant a "this" or "it" wherever they sense that flow is needed.

11 On Style Conventions

However, they often create confusion by doing so. Most of the time when you use "this" or "it" you are actually referring to a specific noun or verb that is nearby, or to an idea that has just been implied if not explicitly stated.Good technical writing aims to inform with clarity and precision.

There are a number of conventions for technical writing and some of the most common are outlined below.

Technical writing conventions

Scientific or technical writing is different from literary writing in a number of ways. Primarily, the aim of technical writing is. Technical Writing Conventions Good technical writing aims to inform with clarity and precision. There are a number of conventions for technical writing and some of the most common are outlined below.

Technical Writing On Style Conventions Academic papers, cover letters and resumes, business plans, and other documents tend to follow certain conventions.

Guidelines for Technical Document Intended Audience This document is intended for all members of the Technical Writing fraternity to follow a structured writing style and formatting rules. Well-written technical documents usually follow formal standards or guidelines for prose, information structure and layout.

When met with a challenge that is conquerable within your means, students especially, seek to overcome. You ascend into a state of flow, almost like a challenge-conquer duality, . As a student, engineer or scientist you will be required to write technical reports as part of your degree as well as throughout your career.

Examples of such reports include annual environmental reports to regulators, annual reports to shareholders, project proposals, tender documents and journal articles.

Technical writing style - Wikiversity