Breaking the Rules: “Don’t Let Good Grammar Spoil Good Writing” and Passive/Active Voice

  Oldies can be goodies: one of the wonderful things about the IEEE PCS Newsletters Archive is that much of its advice to writers remains valid. Philip Yaffe's "Don't Let Good Grammar Spoil Good Writing," from the April 2009 IEEE PCS Newsletter, tells us why breaking grammar rules can create positive results, depending on context and … [Read more...]

Cutting the Fluff from your Writing

Good professional technical writing involves a struggle between conciseness and completeness. Writers need to provide the evidence and reasoning to justify their claims in the shortest space possible. Cutting too much or the wrong things, however, can damage your ability to support your decisions. It's important, then, to be able to differentiate … [Read more...]

Simplified Technical English and Clearer Documentation through the Thumbs Up Technique (3/3)

As discussed in the beginning of this first article, Simplified Technical English (STE) is generally considered as being of great importance for writing clear and unambiguous content, mainly for user instructions like maintenance manuals. In this series of three articles, Ferry Vermeulen, MSc. will show three steps that will help to apply … [Read more...]

Simplified Technical English and Clearer Documentation through the Thumbs Up Technique (2/3)

As discussed in the beginning of this first article, Simplified Technical English (STE) is generally considered as being of great importance for writing clear and unambiguous content, mainly for user instructions like maintenance manuals.  In this series of three articles, Ferry Vermeulen, MSc. will show three steps that will help to apply … [Read more...]

How to Implement Simplified Technical English and Write Clearer Documentation with the Thumbs Up Technique (Part 1/3)

Simplified Technical English (STE) is generally considered as being of great importance for writing clear and unambiguous content, mainly for user instructions like maintenance manuals. However, many technical writers experience specific problems when implementing STE. Although theoretically possible, STE is not an easy language to learn by … [Read more...]

Using Numbers in Technical Documents

For engineers, like physicists, numbers are as important as words in reporting on their work, and carry much of the meaning behind their technical documents. However, how we write these numbers - and how we integrate them with text - may determine a reader’s understanding of that report. For example, take this passage: "An appropriate sample … [Read more...]

Brian Price: Peeling Back the Information Onion in Technical and Engineering Communication

Brian Price, Lecturer at Aston University, UK, explores the metaphor of the "information onion" in technical and engineering communication, which helps reveal important strategies for effectively delivering and designing information for your readers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5COPk-bwX0 His talk on "Peeling Back the Layers of the … [Read more...]

PCS Newsletters Archive–Everything Old is New Again!

Bell-bottom jeans, disco music, and a Dodge Dart--if you take a look at consumer culture, you would suspect that we are in the midst of a 70's revival.  In the case of PCS, you need look no further than the PCS Newsletters Archive, now available on the PCS website. These newsletters first began appearing in August 1970 and covered a variety of … [Read more...]

New Year, New You? Communication Resolutions for 2014

We are 11 days into the new year, and a few days after the Polar Vortex, so it seems like a good time to think about communication resolutions for 2014.  Communication resolutions, you ask?  Aren't resolutions just for reducing food intake and getting more exercise?  Absolutely not!  Like maintaining a healthy weight and working out regularly, your … [Read more...]

Welcome Class of 2017!

At this time of year, as Rose-Hulman first year students arrive and begin orientation, I always like to take a look at the Beloit College Mindset List, an inventory of the Class of 2017.  Every year the list makes its rounds among college faculty who realize once again that there is a large gulf between the old professors and the new … [Read more...]