ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Books, Literature, and Writing»
  • How to Write

Basic tips for Technical Writing Structure

Updated on April 13, 2013

online writings skills, technical writing skills, Technical writing, Technical communication,

Technical writing, Technical communication, online writings skills, technical writing skills

Introduction:

Most things can be described in terms of structure and function - political systems, body organs, games, and systems. Structure is Platonic in the sense that it approximates an ideal form. Function is Aristotelian, in that it describes the uses we have for things. A Platonist might describe a horse as a beast with four legs, a tail, and a long back. An Aristotelian could describe the same horse as a beast for riding and even go a step further to give instructions for riding the beast.

Technical writers combine both philosophies in their everyday work. It's just another thing that makes technical writing such an interesting profession.

The Importance of Information Structure:

Data without structure is not very useful. How do you find what you're looking for? What's important, and what is trivial? When you read about a subject, you expect some kind of organization that saves you time and effort in learning. If it is not organized, you will quickly give up.

put the most important information first. What is important? That depends on your audience analysis. Generally, warnings come first. Most introductions are a waste of a time for the technical reader. They don't read from start to finish, but rather search for a particular chunk of information. So your index, table of contents, or other navigational aids should come first. Assume your readers are intelligent enough to find their way if your organization is clear and consistent.

Descriptions versus Instructions:

Structures have descriptions. Functions have instructions. When you describe a horse, you list all the components that make up the horse. You may not even need a specific horse in mind, but can define what a horse is in abstract terms. Give your audience the information required to identify a horse. When you give some instructions in riding a horse, you should start with a description of the temperament of that horse, and how to use the saddle, reins, and stirrups the horse is wearing. Give your audience the information required to take advantage of the horse's function.... riding.

Understanding the Role of Description:

Technical communication is filled with descriptions - verbal and visual representations of objects, mechanisms, and processes.

Objects: This word covers an enormous range of things from physical sites such as mountains to synthetic artifacts such as hammers.

Mechanisms: It's a synthetic object consisting of a number of moving identifiable parts that work together as a system. For example, a television set.

Processes: A process is an activity that takes place over time. For example, how plants perform photosynthesis. Furthermore, description of processes differ from instructions, as it explains how something happens whereas instruction tells us how to do something.

Description of objects, mechanisms and processes appear in virtually every kind of technical communication. Before you begin to write a description, consider carefully how the audience and purpose of the document will affect the way you write it.

The Structure of object and Mechanism Description:


Object and mechanism description have the same basic structure, and the word "item" refers to both object and mechanism. Most descriptions of items have a four - past structure:

1. Title or section heading

2. General introduction that tells the reader the definition of item.

3. par-by-part description of the item.

4. Conclusion that summarizes the description and explains how the part works together.

Structural Element:
1. Time or section Heading

Purpose:

if the description of the item (object/ mechanism) is to be a separate document, give it a title. if it is a part of the body, give it a section heading. In either case, clearly state the subject and indicate whether the description is general or particular.

2. General Introduction: Provides the basic information that your reader will need to understand the detailed description that follows. A general introduction usually answers the following five questions.

1. What is the item?
2. What is the function of the item?
3. What does the item look like?
4. How does the item work?
5. What are the principal parts of the item?

The information provided in the introduction generally follows this pattern, focusing on the item's function, appearance, operating principle and components.

3. Part-by-part Description: It is essentially like the general introduction in a way it treats each part as a separate item. That is, in writing about a part, you describe its:
1. Function
2. Operating principle

Appearance (including shape, dimensions, material, texture, color etc.)

4. Conclusion: Descriptions generally do not require elaborate conclusions. A brief conclusion is only needed, and you can summarize briefly by explaining how the parts function together.

technical writing skills

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)