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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

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.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
While the American heart association suggests that meditation might be used in conjunction with more traditional treatments as a way to manage hypertension
Beverly 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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