From: Dave Oswald Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2010 To: Susan Colebank Subject: Susan: E-mail Hello Susan, This email is being sent in regard to the information requested, presenting the differences between technical writing and expository writing methods. The writing elements to be covered in this email are related to the following aspects of writing: • Audience • Formatting • Purpose • Tone • Personal Experience I am certain you will find the following information to be of value and this email will serve its intended purpose, to verify my knowledge as it relates to technical writing.
Audience- Technical writing always has a very specific audience, with a deliverance of facts being the objective. It is critical to address the audience at the right level when creating a technical document. If a document overestimates or underestimates the intended audience, the result is a failed document (Pringle, 2003). For example, a software user manual intended for advanced programmers would be considered annoying by the end user if it wasted time on information that a beginner may find necessary.
Similarly, a set of assembly instructions to a child’s toy could be confusing if the instructions are not quite simple to follow. Expository writing has a targeted audience, similar to technical writing, with a deliverance of the writer’s opinion or experience being part of the objective. “Expository writing informs with an explanation or report” (Chapman & King, 2009, p. 38). The goal of expository writing as it relates to audience is for the writer to share their point of view.
A research paper serves as an excellent example as one would include the writer’s interpretation of the research. Another example is a news story in a newspaper, usually including witness accounts or interpretations of events. Formatting- It is important to format text using a simple, inviting manner in technical documents. Text should allow ease of access to the facts and information that construct the document. Accessibility is vital to technical documents. To ensure the document is inviting, “highlight key points and break up monotonous-looking text” (Gerson & Gerson, 2008, p. 33).
An example is a technical email in which the information is divided and organized into accessible segments. Another example is step-by-step instructions of a plastic model kit; these should be very organized and easy to follow. The text of an expository document “contain one or more of the following organizational structures: generalizations or examples, question-answer, problem-solution, description, sequence, process, categorization, comparison-contrast, or cause-effect” (McAndrews, 2008, p. 128). An example is a diary or journal entry, which may contain several of these structures.
A student book report serves as another example with the primary structures being description and sequence. Purpose- The purpose of technical writing is to convey facts. Technical documents should be “designed to be practical and useful” (Hannigan, Martinez, Wells, Peterson, & Stevenson, 2008, p. 8). A spec sheet for a vehicle component is an example as it contains the useful information to be sought-after by the intended audience. A cookie recipe is another example of a technical document and is extremely useful in the creation of cookies.
According to Dillon (2008) in her book Get Connected: Study Skills, Reading, and Writing, the purpose of expository writing is to explain or inform the reader about a particular subject or topic. Buck and Woodbridge states; “expository writing aims to communicate to others our interpretation of sense-experience” (1901, p. 6). Magazine articles are an example of expository writing, as the purpose is to inform the reader. Student textbooks are another example; the contents function to explain and inform much information in a textbook. Tone-
Technical writing tone should maintain an objective distance (Gerson & Gerson, 2008) and focus on subjective. The data or information contained within the document should be enough to attain the intended response from the reader. For example, a technical email will include requested information and facts, not my opinion on the subject matter. The same is true for a business financial report; the facts and data included will be enough for the intended audience to draw their own conclusions. Expository writing uses tone to convey “how the author feels about what he or she has written about” (Dillon, 2008, p. 63).
The tone, therefore, is objective in an expository document. For example, the tone in a student essay will most likely convey how the student feels in regard to the essay topic. Another example is a news article, the reporter or writer will undoubtedly include a personal bias, whether intentional or not, into the document. Personal Experience- Technical writing is used in the corporate environment to communicate information quickly and efficiently among members involved with the corporation. My personal experience in technical communication has been acquired through my responsibilities in business management.
This experience includes: technical emails, agent performance reports, employee payroll reports and database statistics and reports. In closing, it is important to realize and appreciate the differences that exist between expository writing and technical writing methods. Knowing what to incorporate into the technical writing process will ensure that the technical document serves the intended purpose of the writer. I have attached a reference page to this email for substantiation purposes. Best regards, Dave Dave Oswald [email protected] phoenix. edu