Translating Technical Terms

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In writing technical information for the non–technical reader, the traditional wisdom goes that you are, or should be, “writing to express rather than to impress.”

So let’s take a look at translating some of those technical terms to help our non-technical readers understand just what we are talking about. And let’s also expand our definition of technical writing to include not only material that is technical in nature, but also information that is new to our readers, or new in a specific discipline or field. And thusly, will also need “translation.”

Just who are these readers? They are managerial – very often the decision-makers. They are your co-workers; government agencies; advisory committees; “The Public”; and…. Here’s where you consider your various specialized audiences.

Three ways to translate the technical terms you use:

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Published in: on January 27, 2014 at 4:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Using Numbers for Technical Writing

ThinkingWoman170While some organizations may have their own style guides outlining their unique preferences, the following 14 guidelines are how numbers should be used, absent a formal style guide in your organization.
1. Use Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3,) for:
• All numbers over nine in the text
There were 98,526 wafers in that batch. There were 10 operators involved. (But: Ten operators were involved.)
Note that when the first word of a sentence is a number greater than nine, you have two options: (a) spell it out, or (b) re-write the sentence so it does not start with the number. The exception is a numeral that identifies a calendar year.
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We’ll be happy to bring a Gail Tycer workshop to your organization. To discuss a workshop for your people at your location or ours, or a shorter presentation for an upcoming meeting, call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com

Published in: on January 21, 2014 at 12:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Technical Writing: Will They Get It?

womanTyping250Strictly speaking, the purpose of technical writing is to provide technical information in a totally objective way. This type of technical writing is frequently written for professionals in a specific field who already  “speak the language,” and understand the general concepts. So what may look like unintelligible “jargon” to the non-technical reader may well be a timesaving “insider language” for the technical reader in that specific field.

It is important to make the distinction between this type of technical writing, and a second type – the type of technical writing most of us will most often be called upon to write: technical writing that is, by most (short) definitions, good business writing dealing with technical information.

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Over last weekend, I’ll bet many of you, like me, were busy packing away ornaments, deciding which candles can be used again, and trying to find a youth organization to give our retired trees to for recycling. Or at least, again, like me – thinking about it!

And now it’s serious back-to-work time. Time to try something new. I’m not quite ready for 2014 yet – what happened to 2010, anyway? So, with a final salute, let’s wrap up 2013 with the Best of the Blog – a short collection of my top nineteen posts of that year, as judged by the number of “likes” each garnered. An “e-book” for want of a better name, and the first e-book I’ve ever done. Please email me (gail@gailtycer.com), and I’ll send you the free link.

I’d like to give this compilation to you as a thought-starter. A new way of thinking about your writing. Or maybe as a way to address a New Year’s resolution to strengthen your on-the-job writing, making it faster, easier, and more effective. Totally free. No advertising, no name collecting, no strings. Please email me (gail@gailtycer.com), and I’ll send you the free link.

We’ll talk about:

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How Important is a Thank You Note – Really?

Thank You Card

Take just a moment to think about that person in your life who always sends you a thank you note.  In our family, Cousin Harriet comes to mind. Her thank you notes are gifts in themselves. They make you feel good. Happy about whatever small service or gift, and eager to see her “next time.”

Can your thank you note do this for your friend or family member? Of course. And what a privilege it is to write that note, knowing you are brightening the day for Aunt Minnie or Uncle George, who spent hours online, or at the Mall, finding just the right thing to brighten your holiday.

A hand-written note – on paper and through the U.S. Mail – is often the best. A hand-written note, on paper, has a more lasting quality. In some cases, an email, a text message, or even a quick phone call of thanks may be more appropriate. What is important is to let that person who has done you a service, or sent you a gift, know that you sincerely appreciate his or her effort.

Is this equally true in business?

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If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe to our blog.

We’ll be happy to bring a Gail Tycer workshop to your organization. To discuss a workshop for your people at your location or ours, or a shorter presentation for an upcoming meeting, call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com

Published in: on December 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Heartfelt Thank You, and More About Email

HappyHoliday240May you have a truly joyful holiday season! Thank you so much for being a loyal reader of this weekly blog. Your emails and comments mean a great deal.

Now let me share a couple of emails on last week’s post:

“That first tip is such a good idea. I got one message from someone I doubt would have sent it if she had taken the time to think it over before sending – and perhaps would have modified the tone. It changed my opinion of her permanently….I think prompt replies are a must, too. Your ideas certainly make for a more civil society.”

Thank you, Carla. Not only is a “civil society” a more pleasant environment to live in, but in the business situation, leads to greater productivity!

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If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe to our blog.

We’ll be happy to bring a Gail Tycer workshop to your organization. To discuss aworkshop for your people at your location or ours, or a shorter presentation for an upcoming meeting, call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com

Published in: on December 23, 2013 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Five Ways to Strengthen Your Email

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Have you ever had an email “send” before you were ready to turn it loose? Who hasn’t experienced this awkward moment and its subsequent follow-up? Today, let’s talk about the fail-safe way to avoid this situation, as one of our five ways to strengthen your email.

  1. A participant in one of my workshops came up with this tip: To avoid “sending” before you are ready, leave the “to” line blank until you are ready to send. Check your piece over for grammatical, usage, and strategic missteps, and then address and send it.
  2. Consistently reply promptly, and you will stand out in a very positive way. One of the most common questions asked is always, “How do I get people to respond to me?” At all. Let alone promptly. If you do not have the answer at your fingertips, or do not have time to provide a lengthy answer right then, answer that email with a reasonable expectation for the reader, e.g., “I will send that information later this afternoon.” Or, “I can have that report for you by Friday.” This is what our reader needs. This is what we need to do.

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Published in: on December 17, 2013 at 4:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How Many Common Writing Errors Do You Make?

Let’s talk a bit about grammar and usage errors today. Can you find the errors in the following three sentences?Gail Tycer wordpress wordle

1. Woodland Caribou: Less than 65 roam America’s mountains and mesas.

2. As soon as they get the test scores back, her or her assistant will call you

3. They thought living in Canada would be a lot different than living in Portland, Oregon.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this short quiz. If you’d like to test yourself further, visit our archives:

http://www.businesswritingzone.com/freeresources/writingquiz.shtml

Published in: on December 9, 2013 at 12:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Write Gift – Beyond Price, Yet It Costs Nothing

youngBoyWriting200Almost always these posts are dedicated to business writing strategies, tips, and tactics to help you write less, say more – and get results on the job.

This week, I’m feeling that old holiday nostalgia, and would like to digress, and talk a bit about some of the best gifts I’ve ever received. They would not be for everyone, but it may be they’ll spark some ideas for you, and perhaps some wonderful memories for someone special to you.

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We’ll be happy to bring a Gail Tycer workshop to your organization. To discuss a workshop for your people at your location or ours, or a shorter presentation for an upcoming meeting, give us a call at 503/292-9681, or email us at gail@gailtycer.com

Published in: on December 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm  Comments Off on The Write Gift – Beyond Price, Yet It Costs Nothing  
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Are You a Professional Writer?

WomanatComputer175Do you write on the job? Are you paid for writing on the job? If so, that makes you a professional writer.

A “professional writer” is someone who is being paid to write consistent, dependable numbers of words regularly – no matter how he or she feels, whether inspired or not. We are not always going to be positive, happy, and generally “up,” especially over the holidays when there is so much to get done, and we are often distracted.

Here are some ways you can “fall back on technique,” to write clearly and effectively, even when inspiration is on vacation:

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Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm  Comments Off on Are You a Professional Writer?  
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