Review: Spring Into Technical Writing - Great pastime while staying at cheap hotels
Spring Into Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists published by Addison Wesley Professional is a great tutorial and reference for anyone who currently writes technical documents or needs to learn how.
The author Barry Rosenberg is a technical writer and instructor for Technology Exchange Company. He is the author of more than 30 programming manuals, including Addison-Wesley's Client/Server Computing for Technical Professionals: Concepts and Solutions and KornShell Programming Tutorial.
(Submitted by Noel Tue Jul 19, 2005 )
Spring Into Technical Writing
for Engineers and Scientist
By Barry J. Rosenberg
Review Copyright 2005 Noel Davis.
Spring Into Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists published by Addison Wesley Professional is a great tutorial and reference for anyone who currently writes technical documents or needs to learn how. Any one can do it! Whether you are someone who writes for fun or a serious writer, you can always use skills to fine tune your technical writing abilities. Writing is a great pastime. If you travel, while staying in cheap hotels you can write using your lap top, or if you are stuck in an airport you can write help time pass. Regardless of who or why you are writing, you should give it a try, and read this article for tips!
The book is packed with good technical information all written in a clear and understandable manner. The chapters are laid out in a logical progression that takes the reader on a journey from planning the writing project through editing the finished project.
Sections that I found very useful included the chapters on lists, tables, and graphics. The descriptions on these topics explained when to put information in a table and when a list is more appropriate. The section on graphics strikingly pointed out the power of an image to add to your writing or distract from it.
This book is obviously created from years of background in writing about technical information. It will help a new writer who has been given the job of writing documentation and will also be of use to an experienced writer who wants to improve their writing.
Table of Contents
I. PLANNING TO WRITE.
1. The Quest.
Technical Writing Theorems
Technical Writing Can Be Creative
The Value of Technical Communication to You
Comparing Technical Writing to Engineering and Science
General Education Level
Experience and Expertise
Breadth of Audience
Medium and the Message
Becoming the Audience
Summary of Audience
3. Documentation Plans.
Document Specifications (Doc Specs)
Doc Specs: Sample
Documentation Project Plans
Documentation Project Plan: Sample
Summary of Documentation Specifications
II. WRITING: GENERAL PRINCIPLES.
Adjectives and Adverbs
Pronouns: He, She, and They
Pronouns: It and They
Commonly Confused Words
Summary of Words
Active Voice and Passive Voice
Active Voice Is Better
When Is Passive Voice Okay?
Short = Sweet
Causes of Long Sentences
One Sentence = One Thought
Summary of Sentences
6. Paragraphs and Sections.
Summary of Paragraphs and Sections
Elements in Bulleted Lists
The Length of Each Element
Introductions to Lists
Summary of Lists
Units of Measure
Arrangement of Columns and Rows
Parallelism in Tables
Amount of Text in Cells
Summary of Tables
Extra Detail in Online Graphics
Before and After
Callouts versus Embedded Text
Graphics That Orient Readers
Text That Supplements Figures
Line Art Enhances Technical Photographs
Big Picture First, Then Details
Layout: Controlling Focus
Layout: Keeping Eyes on the Page
Layout: White Space
Summary of Graphics
10. Professional Secrets.
Explanations of Formula-Based Rules
Examples by Metaphor
Examples for Programming Documentation
Question-and-Answer Format Example
In Other Words
Footnotes and Other Digressions
Beyond the Obvious
The Hardest Part of Writing
Summary of Professional Secrets
III. WRITING: SPECIFIC KINDS OF DOCUMENTS.
Manual Style: Cookbooks
Cookbook Example: Installing the Carambola Server
Manual Style: Tutorials
Tutorial Example: Getting Started with HTML
Manual Style: Guides
Guide Example: Creating HTML Headers
Manual Style: Reference Manuals
Reference Example: The pr1me Utility
Manual Style: Nonverbal Manuals
Online Help: Overview
Online Help: Best Practices
Online Help Examples
Release Notes Example: Carambola Web Server Version 3.7
Glossary Example: Tropical Weather Terms
Tables of Contents
Indexes: Providing Concise Entries
Indexes: Permuting Terms
Indexes: Providing Entries for Concepts
Summary of Manuals
12. Web Sites.
Home Page: Specify Purpose and Audience
Home Pages: Engage the Reader's Imagination
Home Pages: Set the Tone
Navigators and Search Boxes
Hyperlinks in Body Text
Text in Web Sites
PDF versus HTML
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Summary of Web Sites
The Proposal before the Proposal
Adherence to the Proposal Template
Proposal Element: Cover Letters
Proposal Element: Biographies
Proposal Element: Abstracts
Proposal Element: Contingency Plans
Proposals for Revolutionary Ideas
Research Proposals: Significance Statements
Research Proposals: Objectives and Hypotheses
Research Proposals: Design and Methods
Book Proposal: Example Marketing Section
Summary of Proposals
14. Internal Planning Documents.
Business Proposal: Example
High-Level Technical Specs
High-Level Technical Spec Example
Low-Level Technical Specs
Low-Level Technical Spec Example
Summary of Internal Planning Documents
15. Lab Reports.
Summary of Lab Reports
16. PowerPoint Presentations.
Organizing a Presentation: The Big Picture
The Number of Slides
The Opening Moments of a Presentation
Introductory Slides: The Traditional Approach
Introductory Slides: An Alternate Approach
Body Slides: Pace and Variety
Mechanics: Fonts and Backgrounds
Body Slides: Effective Lists
Audience: The Theory of Relativity
The Complexity of a Graphic
Different Kinds of Learners
PowerPoint Speech: The Basics
PowerPoint Speech: Lessons from the Pros
PowerPoint Speech: Overcoming Fear
Summary of PowerPoint Presentations
The Essence of the E-Mail Problem
Before Hitting the Send Button...
After the First Miscommunication...
Summary of E-Mail
IV. EDITING AND PRODUCING DOCUMENTS.
18. Editing and the Documentation Process.
Editing: What Is It Really?
Technical Editing a Peer's Work
Technical Editing a Superior's Work
Copyediting a Colleague's Document
Copyediting Your Own Document
Media for Technical Editing
A Process for Editing
Beta Tests for Documentation
Summary of Editing and the Documentation Process
19. Fonts and Typography.
Serif and Sans-Serif Fonts
Fixed-Width versus Variable-Width Fonts
Serif and Sans-Serif in Hard Copy
Serif and Sans-Serif in Soft Copy
Italics and Boldface
Consistency and Convention
True-Type versus PostScript Fonts
Summary of Fonts and Typography
Dashes and Hyphens
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