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Up to this point, you have probably been thinking about technical writing in relation to communicating technical information clearly in an accessible format that meets the needs of its audience. These are important aspects of technical writing, to be sure, but they really only represent the surface of what you need to know. This chapter will introduce some of the ethical issues that may arise as technical writers research, write, revise, and produce a technical document.
When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use. This handout provides overviews and examples of how to use tone in business writing. This includes considering the audience and purpose for writing. The overall tone of a written message affects the reader just as one's tone of voice affects the listener in everyday exchanges" Ober Business writers should consider the tone of their message, whether they are writing a memo, letter, report, or any type of business document.
Tone is present in all communication activities. Ultimately, the tone of a message is a reflection of the writer and it does affect how the reader will perceive the message.
The writer should consider several things when preparing to write. The following questions will help you to determine the appropriate tone for your message.
You should take time to consider the purpose of your document in order to determine how you should express the message you wish to convey. Obviously, you want the message to reach your audience, and you will probably want the reader to take some action in response to your message. When you consider the message and how you wish to express it, the tone of your message will become apparent.
Suzy is writing a job acceptance letter to an employer but is unsure of the tone she should take in the message. She has decided to accept the position. When she asks herself, "What is my intent upon writing? Who is your audience? Whether it is an employer or a fellow worker, it is essential that you consider your reader before writing any document. Your message will be much more effective if you tailor the document to reach your specific audience. The message you wish to express must be written in a way that will effectively reach the reader.
The tone that you use to write the document directly affects how the reader will interpret what is said. Bob is writing a cover letter for a position as a Sales Representative for a newspaper. He is unsure that he will be able to succeed at such a position, and uses phrases such as: "I hope that you will contact me The reader is likely to interpret these phrases to mean that Bob isn't really qualified for the position or that he doesn't really want the position. If Bob were to consider these things he may rewrite his cover letter to include such phrases as: "You can reach me at ; I look forward to hearing from you.
Fortunately, you can use the same kind of tone for most business messages. The only major exceptions to these guidelines are when you need to write a negative business message, such as when you deny a job offer or a customer request. Here are some general guidelines to keep in mind when considering what kind of tone to use in your letters and how to present information in that tone:. You can feel confident if you have carefully prepared and are knowledgeable about the material you wish to express.
The manner in which you write should assume a confident tone as well. As you prepare business documents, you want the reader to do as you ask or to accept your decision. In order to make the document effective, you must write confidently. Consequently, a confident tone will have a persuasive effect on your audience. The reader will become more inclined to accept your position, and will notice the confidence that you have. Employers are inclined to hire individuals that appear confident and sure of their abilities.
This does not mean however; that you should appear overconfident. This can easily be interpreted as arrogant or presumptuous.
A writer builds goodwill for him or herself by using a tone that is polite and sincere. It is important to strive for sincerity in tone because without sincerity, politeness can sound condescending. Consider the words and phrases you use in your document and how your reader will likely receive them. If you are respectful and honest, readers will be more willing to accept your message, even if it is negative.
You can help your readers to understand which of your ideas you consider most important by using emphasis and subordination.
You can choose from a variety of strategies to emphasize an idea or to subordinate it. To emphasize an idea, place it in a short sentence. A short and simple sentence will most effectively convey an important idea.
You can provide further explanation, sufficient examples, or evidence in following sentences. To subordinate an idea, place it in a compound sentence. Emphasis: Smoking will no longer be permitted in the building. The committee on employee health and safety reached this decision after considering evidence from researchers and physicians on the dangers of second-hand smoke. Subordination: The committee on employee health and safety has finished considering evidence, and they have reached the decision that smoking will no longer be permitted in the building.
Ideas placed in the first paragraph of a document or message receive the most emphasis, followed by information placed in the last paragraph. You can subordinate an idea by placing it in middle paragraphs of your message because these paragraphs receive the least emphasis. Use active voice to emphasize the person or thing performing an action and passive voice to emphasize the action that is being performed.
Note: In most nonscientific writing situations, active voice is preferable to passive for the majority of your sentences. Even in scientific writing, overuse of passive voice or use of passive voice in long and complicated sentences can cause readers to lose interest or to become confused. Sentences in active voice are generally—though not always— clearer and more direct than those in passive voice.
You can recognize passive-voice expressions because the verb phrase will always include a form of be, such as am, is, was, were, are, or been. The presence of a be-verb, however, does not necessarily mean that the sentence is in passive voice. Another way to recognize passive-voice sentences is that they may include a "by the You can also emphasize and subordinate information by letting readers know how you feel about the information.
The amount of space that you devote to an idea will help convey the idea's importance to the reader. Discuss ideas that you want to emphasize in more detail than you do ideas that you want to subordinate. The language you use to describe your ideas can also suggest how important that idea is. Use phrases such as "most important," "major," or "primary" when discussing ideas you want to emphasize and phrases such as "a minor point to consider" or "least important" to discuss ideas you want to subordinate.
Repeating important ideas is good way to emphasize them as well. Be careful not to overuse this strategy; you will lose your readers' interest if they believe you are needlessly repeating information. Any information that stands out from the rest of the text will be emphasized. Do not use this strategy frequently or the design effect will be lost. Nondiscriminatory language is language that treats all people equally.
It does not use any discriminatory words, remarks, or ideas. It is very important that the business writer communicate in a way that expresses equality and respect for all individuals. Discriminatory language can come between your message and your reader. Make sure your writing is free of sexist language and free of bias based on such factors as race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, and disability.
Not: After the girls in the office receive an order, our office fills it within 24 hours. But: When orders are received from the office, they are filled within 24 hours. Not: Executives and their wives But: Executives and their spouses. Not: Connie Green performed the job well for her age. But: Connie Green performed the job well. Not: Each student must provide his own lab jacket.
But: Students must provide their own lab jackets. Or Each student must provide his or her own lab jacket. Write from the reader's perspective. Instead of simply writing from the perspective of what the reader can do for you, write in a way that shows what you can do for the reader. A reader will often read a document wondering "What's in it for me? It is essential that you write at an appropriate level of difficulty in order to clearly convey your message.
Consider your audience and prepare your writing so that the reader will clearly understand what it is that you are saying. In other words, prepare your style of reading to match the reading abilities of your audience. Do not use complex passages or terms that the reader will not understand. Accordingly, do not use simple terms or insufficient examples if the reader is capable of understanding your writing. A competent writer will match the needs and abilities of their reader and find the most effective way to communicate with a particular reader.
It is especially important to consider tone when you are writing a negative message. In a negative message, such as a document that rejects a job offer or denies a request, be sure to assume a tone that is gracious and sincere. Thank the reader for their input or involvement and carefully state that you cannot comply with their wishes. Follow this response with an explanation as necessary. It is best not to draw attention to the person performing the action that will likely displease the reader.
Therefore, you may want to avoid using active voice when delivering negative messages. You might also avoid stressing the reader benefits unless there are clear benefits to the negative message.
Technical communication is a broad field and includes any form of communication that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics:. The value that technical communicators deliver is twofold: They make information more useable and accessible to those who need that information, and in doing so, they advance the goals of the companies or organizations that employ them. The following examples illustrate the value of the products technical communicators produce or the services they provide. Defining Technical Communication. Technical communication is a broad field and includes any form of communication that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics: Communicating about technical or specialized topics , such as computer applications, medical procedures, or environmental regulations.
This open textbook offers students of technical writing an introduction to the processes and products involved in professional, workplace, and technical writing. Writing well is hard work but critical to academic and professional success. Registration shall be reconfirmed only once payment has been made prior to the course. Business Technical communication is not a frill or an occasional endeavor. Good technical writing results in relevant, useful and accurate information geared to specifically targeted audiences in order to enable a set of actions on the part of the audience in pursuit of a defined goal. This form of composition is utilized from engineering, culinary, education, and even to sciences and medical purposes. Communication Skills and Technical Report Writing.
Request PDF | Professional and technical writing strategies: communicating in technology and science, 5th edition [Book Review] | First Page.
Technical writing is writing or drafting technical communication used in technical and occupational fields, such as computer hardware and software , engineering , chemistry , aeronautics , robotics , finance , medical , consumer electronics , biotechnology , and forestry. Technical writing encompasses the largest sub-field in technical communication. The Society for Technical Communication defines technical communication as any form of communication that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics: " 1 communicating about technical or specialized topics, such as computer applications, medical procedures, or environmental regulations; 2 communicating by using technology, such as web pages, help files, or social media sites; or 3 providing instructions about how to do something, regardless of how technical the task is". Technical writing is performed by a technical writer or technical author and is the process of writing and sharing technical information in a professional setting.
As far as I can tell, this textbook does not include an index or glossary. However, each chapter is broken into separate sections with descriptive titles and headings, so navigating to specific concepts and ideas is not difficult without the use Comprehensiveness rating: 4 see less. However, each chapter is broken into separate sections with descriptive titles and headings, so navigating to specific concepts and ideas is not difficult without the use of an index. For example, the chapter on communicating across cultures provides useful tips that students can use to think critically about cross-cultural communication, but these suggestions are limited in that they are designed to apply broadly to most situations in which cross-cultural communication occurs and therefore do not offer clear guidelines or practical strategies for students to learn about and identify a particular culture's communication norms.
All existing courses can be customized for groups. Learn more. Are you looking to understand what technical writing is and how you can become more proficient?
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