Scientists and engineers are expected to write well—just look at technical job listings on any job-search website. But today's young professionals often receive little help in developing skill at technical writing. Science and engineering educators know bad writing when they see it, but they rarely have the expertise to help others. Current texts are out-of-touch with today's culture, in which people communicate informally using small, highly concentrated packets of information. Most word-processing and plotting programs offer bewildering arrays of options, many of which interfere with good technical writing.
Like all media, technical writing has a style, and writers who ignore that style routinely compose weak, confusing, obscure documents. A good technical style communicates accurately and economically. It relies on text, equations, tables, and figures used in concert to tell a technical story. It achieves its purposes without being vague, mystifying, or tedious.
To help young professionals improve as technical writers, J. M. Haile has written Technical Style. In seven short chapters, Haile addresses the essentials of composing strong sentences, coherent paragraphs, transparent equations, effective tables, and informative figures. The book is appropriate as a main text in technical writing courses or as a supplemental text in laboratory courses, design courses, and introductory engineering courses.
But Technical Style is best suited for self study—for those who want to be better writers but don't know how to improve. Technical Style will show you how to write better, and it does so with insight and a touch of wit. Technical Style is available for $29.95 from the publisher's website.
J. M. Haile has 24 years experience in teaching science and engineering. He is the author of Molecular Dynamics Simulation (Wiley), Lectures in Thermodynamics (Macatea), Technical Style (Macatea), and former North American editor of the international journal Molecular Simulation (Gordon and Breach, London).
Technical Style, J. M. Haile, 1st ed., 5-3/8 x 8-3/8, 208 pages, pbk, ISBN 0-9715418-0-9, $29.95, published Jan 2002.