American Technical Writing Style?

Subject: American Technical Writing Style?
From: "Cedric Simard" <cedricns -at- hotmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 05 Oct 2001 17:33:44 +0200

How much is the writing style important for average American readers/users?

I am fully aware that each words of the question above would deserve hundred of lines - and even pages - of further explanation? Still, I deliberately want the question to remain as generic as possible. I will give some more details only on two of its aspects:
- Even if my interest mainly goes to technical documentation, I have deliberately not specified any "document context" in my question: Feel free to anwser with any contexts (B2B documents, public-oriented documents...) and any types of documents (technical, marketing...) in mind!
- By "average American readers/users", I simply have in mind people who have a true feeling of having an American culture. I know this is a shortcut but the matter would be too broad to debate here.

Being asked to define the specificities of the American style of tehnical writing, I would at once think of:
- date formats,
- measure units,
- spelling (labor vs. labour),
- "american words"(sidewalk vs. pavement),
- gender-neutral writing (s/he, she/he, his/her vs. their, etc.),
- idiomatisms,
- punctuation and capitalization.

What I would like to know is:
- To what extent are each of the aspects listed above important for American readers? You American people, how do you react?
- Are there other aspects not mentioned in the above list that are of crucial importance for an American readership?
- When planning for internationalization, is it important to keep two sets of documents: one targeted for the American market, and another one target for an international audience?
- How does an average American reader react when he reads a technical document written in British English? Can this aspect be of prime importance for business issues?

Well, I would have loads of questions. You would have understood that I'm interested in hearing your opinion, discovering facts and references on this matter.
Of course, you would also have understood I'm not American! :-)

cedricns -at- hotmail -dot- com

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