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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

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
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
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?
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?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
can nanotechnology change the direction of the face of the world
Prasenjit Reply
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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