Technical Writing Trends : Substance vs. Style?

Array Compare prices on array at and shop smarter.

As a technical writer, you strive for Accuracy, Clarity and Readability. But where do you strike the balance? Although the definition of Substance ought not to change, it is influenced by evolving trends in Style.

Raid Array Compare prices on retail products. Find online merchants.

Substance is, of course, ever the more important part of technical writing. But Style is what keeps the reader awake!

Substance, here, includes Accuracy and Clarity.

Raid Array Shop for raid array and save.

Style, here, means smooth, interesting, intelligible — all of which can be lumped in under Readability.

Accuracy no longer has to mean mind-numbingly detailed writing. Clarity, in fact, proscribes that. Readability ensures that the technical information actually gets read. If no one is able to plow through a piece of technical writing, then the information simply does not get out.

Raid Array Products on Cataloglink Raid array products on CatalogLink. Request Free Catalogs Online.

No tragedy with an article such as this. But suppose a bridge building crew tossed aside a technical bulletin because it was unreadable. What if the loss of that information caused a locomotive to fall into a ravine, killing hundreds of passengers?

Raid Array Enjoy Savings & Selection On raid array.

(Of course, one resulting headline pun might read: “Hundreds Die With Style.” But you, as a technical writer, would not be writing that one.)

All writing styles evolve over time; technical writing is no exception. Suppose we look at one short piece of an imagined technical article written in what would be an acceptable style in the early 1950s, then in the style of the 1980s and again in what some fear could become the style of the 2010s.

Redundant Array of Independent Disks Learn more about Redundant Array of Independent Disks.

All three styles are describing a right triangle.

Technical Writing Style, circa 1950

The reader will be well acquainted with the fact that the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is defined by the square root of the summed squares of the other two sides. This quadratic relationship proves that the hypotenuse must always be longer than either the base or the altitude. The length of the hypotenuse can never be as long as the sum of the lengths of both the base and the altitude. These relationships are clearly seen in the following formula:

Bioinformatics Online Training Courses Microarrays, SNPs, Bioinformatics, Computer-Assisted Drug Design and Combinatorial Chemistry. Instant Access to online training. Certificates issued immediately upon completion. CME Credits.

c-squared = a-squared + b-squared, where:

  • c = the length of the hypotenuse
  • a = the length of one leg (the altitude)
  • b = the length of the other leg (the base)

A right triangle is defined as a triangle where the two legs, or sides, representing the altitude (a) and the base (b) meet at precisely 90?.

Raid Array Save on Products in Any Category. Compare products, prices & stores.

(This style was dull, but still much improved from technical writing of only a decade or so earlier. Requirements imposed by World War II had abruptly changed attitudes. Information had to be accurate. As well, it needed to be clear. Lives often relied on information being understood easily by hastily trained military technicians. But style was still very much a step-child in the technical writing of the 1940s and 1950s.)

RAID Storage Arrays High density SATA RAID arrays priced as low as $1,250 per TB.

Technical Writing Style circa 1980

The length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle (c) is always longer than the length of the altitude (a) or the base (b). However, the length of the hypotenuse (c) will not be as long as the sum of the lengths of the other two sides (a + b).

RAID Arrays Cheap Prices and Huge Selection. RAID arrays on Sale.

The quadratic relationships of the lengths of the three sides of a right triangle can be seen from:

c-squared = a-squared + b-squared

Right triangles are formed when the two shorter sides (a) and (b) meet at exactly 90 degrees.

Rackmount Plus Rackmount Plus is a specialist in custom built rackmount servers.

(Technical writers were rapidly adopting a crisper style as trade and technology were now international business concerns. Clarity was catching up with Accuracy. You could no longer assume that your customers were native English speakers. As well, ordinary people started buying personal computers and were becoming interested in learning about technology. Readability was increasingly important.)

Raid Array Shop & Save – Drive Cases. Store Ratings, Consumer Reviews.

Technical Writing Style circa 2010(?)

The longest side (hypotenuse) of any right triangle is always longer than either of the other two sides, but interestingly enough, never as long as both short sides added together.

The right angle was used by ancient Egyptians to square up their buildings. They knew that if one wall was 30 cubits long and the other wall was 40 cubits, a string stretched kitty-corner across the room should measure exactly 50 cubits. If not, the corners would not be square.

National Biotech Register Online A refined list of array companies. Online since 1995. Company and keyword search. Providing bio/pharma industry, immediate product/service information.

In a right triangle the two shortest sides meet at a right angle.

See a Flash Animation of the famous Pythagorean Theorem at:


(Assuming that the blog and the sound byte push Style to the forefront, Short, Simple and Silly will then prevail. Although this third “article” is more or less Accurate and Clearly written, where is the Substance? In place, it misuses Readability in the form of human interest and historical perspective. It may well entertain, but as technical writing, it is feckless. It could also be misleading. Note the “any right triangle”; have they discovered other right angles that are not precisely 90 degrees?)

Raid Array at Aberdeen We carry Raid Array, network storage devices, NAS servers, rackmount servers, server chassis, custom-configured computer systems, motherboard kits and hardware.

Good technical writing should consist of genuine Substance conveyed in an appropriate Style. It should deliver specialized information suitable for furthering knowledge or awareness within a targeted interest group. The function of technical writing is still to imprint, not to impress.

Array Raid Upgrade Your Computer. Save On array raid.

Steve Williams is a former technologist and technical writer. Steve is retired now and has a non-commercial website dedicated to seniors and others who enjoy reading and writing.
Writers: you are invited & welcome to submit your short stories, articles, musings, poetry to:

Raid Array Products Buy raid array products at SHOP.COM. Toll-free shopping assistance.

StumbleUpon It!

No Comments

Leave a reply