Re: diffs betw tech and academic writing (was writing samples)

Subject: Re: diffs betw tech and academic writing (was writing samples)
From: Lani Hardage <lhardage -at- RMTECH -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 24 Mar 1998 12:51:13 -0800

Having just migrated from academic writing (mainly for peer-reviewed
scientific journals and government grants, which may be a subspecies of
academic writing) I find there are major differences in style, approach,
and other issues.

You approach academic writing through a logical organization. You
approach technical writing through a task-oriented analysis (except for
a reference manual, which is often organized alphabetically).

Academic writing never employs second-person, tech writing uses
second-person and imperative. There is way too much passive tense in
academic writing, mainly to avoid second-person and imperative. Passive
tense is a big no-no in tech writing.

Academic sentences are much, much longer than technical writing
sentences. The vocabulary you select for each is vastly different - you
try to simplify as much as possible in tech writing to get through to
the greatest number of users, some of which may be using English as a
second language.

Style: tech writing throws in considerations of fonts, header and
paragraph styles, and any thing else you can bring to the table to make
your product visually pleasing and easy to use. Academic writing adheres
to strict standards set by the publisher, journal or granting

I'm sure there are many more differences.

Lani Hardage
Documentation Manager
Risk Management Technologies
lhardage -at- rmtech -dot- com

> ----------
> From: Thomason, Sharon L[SMTP:slthomas -at- INGR -dot- COM]
> Reply To: Thomason, Sharon L
> Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 1998 7:10 AM
> To: TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU
> Subject: Re: Writing samples
> This is my first tech writing position, and when I was asked to
> provide a
> writing sample, I gave a paper from a literature class. Even though
> the
> content wasn't technical, it showed my employer that I could write. I
> am
> now in a tech writing certification program, and my writing pedagogy
> class,
> comprised of teachers and tech writers, has been discussing whether
> their
> are really that many differences between technical and academic
> writing. I
> don't think that there are. What are your thoughts on the subject?

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