How To Communicate Better In Technical Writing: Part II

Now that we’ve covered active voice vs passive voice, let’s think about writing more generally. 

Engineers often view writing as a burden or chore that must be finished on time for an impatient supervisor. Negative attitudes influence a work task in a bad way. If a task is addressed with a positive outlook, the work is easier.

You may have learned specialized knowledge about certain subject matter, such as math, engineering, or computer skills for your job. Writing is just as important as any of those fundamental skills. For example, engineers spend at least one third of their time writing, reading, and talking. Research facilities consume the most paper products. Writing cannot be avoided in any profession. 

The further you progress in your career, the more your supervisors will look at your writing critically. If we make the task of putting thoughts on paper easier, it will reduce time and effort (for both writer and reader alike), make the communication clear and concise. And it will make you look good. 

Thinking and writing go hand in hand. If you can think, you can write. The following are some points to consider when writing e-mails, technical reports, or any other type of written communication. 

What is Purpose of Your Writing?

Are you trying to make a case or lay down the law?

Are you trying to communicate ideas, questions, or instructions? 

Are you trying to influence, enlighten, or persuade?

Is Your Document Noisy?

Like static on a radio, writing static can have a huge effect on your writing. Static is a disturbance that causes a message to lose clarity. For writing, static appears in the form of bad grammar; spelling, and syntax. Static is inappropriate style, ornate or pompous syntax (which favors Latin words above Anglo Saxon words), jargon, redundancy, or repetition.

Are You Dedicated?

Writing is a skill that must be practiced. Few people can write the perfect paper or report on the first try. Or the second. Or the third. Authors or columnists, have to constantly revise and review their work. Writing is not easy. It takes time and effort on your part. 

Lazy writing can be compared to lazy speech. In speech, profanity and clichés substitute for conscious thought. Unclear sentences, clichés, and bad grammar are, in a sense, written profanity. 

The only way to avoid lazy writing is through practice and effort. Like any technical skill, it’s one that can be learned, with practice.