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What is technical style?

Technical style conveys information about a scientific or engineering topic concisely and clearly. Technical style emphasizes means, actions, and results more than human agents. For example, good technical style in the following sentence places the means in the subject position:

“Efficient column operation in the purification section resulted in 99.5 percent pure ethylene oxide (EO).”

“Efficient column operation” is the means that causes the purity outcome. Contrast that sentence with one that focuses on the human agent:

“The engineer improved the column operations in the purification section to make them more efficient so that the ethylene oxide (EO) in the product stream would be 99.5 percent pure.”

Because of the focus on means, actions, and results, technical style permits more passive voice sentences than some other styles.

Furthermore, technical style emphasizes accommodating the vocabulary, purposes, and decision priorities of decision makers. It ensures that documents, presentations, and visuals are accessible and understandable to the intended audience. It positively connects the writer and audience and meets professional standards. It is consistent with the audience’s culture.

To accomplish these aims, technical style creates syntactic structures that enable readers or listeners rapidly to identify the principal action and its cause. It also uses specific technical terms to reduce the possibility of misinterpretation.

Technical style affects paragraphs as well as sentences. It focuses attention consistently by repeating subjects in a series of sentences and changing subjects only when the logic of the argument requires it.

This brief guide introduces some of the principal techniques for editing to achieve a technical style.

How to edit: focus on the subject! capture the action with the verb!

In general, begin a sentence with its subject, that is, name what you want to talk about:

  • Technical translators must know both the languages well.
  • The infiltration rate decreased over five years.
  • Slash pine forests cover the region where the highway will go.

Use preliminary phrases only when you need to “set the scene” or establish a condition that will help the reader make sense of your claim:

After turning off the power, open the right hatch door.

In most cases, use concrete subjects that form a picture in the readers’ minds:

  • Abstract : Input from first-line supervisors is probably the best source of information to aid in the identification of good prospective candidates.
  • Concrete : First-line supervisors can probably identify good prospective candidates.

Abstractions or generalizations can be good subjects if they are the agents or means of the sentence’s main action:

  • Deformations in the concrete jeopardize the roadbed’s stability.
  • Permeability of the soil increased infiltration.

Once you’ve named the subject, keep the subject consistent in a long sentence:

  • Inconsistent: The recently published study, conducted by Darren Harrison, who is a consultant to several major firms, has finished an extensive profile of landfill problems.
  • Consistent: Darren Harrison, a consultant to several major firms, recently published a profile of landfill problems.
    The author, not the study, finished the work.

Place precise, active verbs in key positions in the sentence to help your readers follow your argument and appreciate your expertise.

Place the subject and the main verb close together:

  • Separated: The delays , principally involving funding and the slow shipment of construction materials for the levies in New Orleans, caused general anxieties about quality of construction.
  • Close together : The delays caused general anxieties about quality of construction: both funding and construction materials arrived slowly for the levies in New Orleans.

Free the action trapped in nouns and “place holder” verbs (verbs with low semantic meaning) by filling in the blanks.


Make contact with contact Do an imitation of
Give an approval Send a referral to
Have a harmful effect harm Offer an explanation explain

Questions & Answers

Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Becoming a professional scholar. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10871/1.2
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