Re: The Positron and Electron of Technical Writing

Subject: Re: The Positron and Electron of Technical Writing
From: "Marie C. Paretti" <mparetti -at- RRINC -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 8 Dec 1998 14:29:40 -0500

At 09:22 AM 12/8/98 -0800, Thomas Quine wrote:
>If you take good technical writing and break it down to its essential
>components, at the molecular level it consists of only two things:
>1. Instructions on how to perform a task, and
>2. Units of knowledge which are a prerequisite to carrying out those

Actually, I'd say that's only true for one segment of technical writing -
the one concerned with writing instructions. What about writers who prepare
annual reports for a company, or who create informational brochures, data
sheets, product specifications, medical pamphlets, and a whole raft of
other non-instructional data? When I am reading a brochure that explains,
in terms I can understand, exactly what rolfing is (deep muscle tissue
manipulation, if you're interested), I'm not looking for instructions on
how to do it; I'm simply trying to understand what this person is about to
do to my body. The technical documentation is not a prerequisite for
anything except maybe my peace of mind.

Technical writing is, as we've all said, an extremely broad field that
reaches far beyond instructional documentation.


Marie C. Paretti, PhD
Recognition Research, Inc. (RRI)
1750 Kraft Drive, Suite 2000
Blacksburg, VA 24060
mparetti -at- rrinc -dot- com

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