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Technical Writing  

This guide features books and websites that will be helpful to anyone wanting to learn more about technical writing.
Last Updated: Jan 19, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Careers in Tech Writing

Thinking of becoming a professional technical writer?

Careers for Writers and Others Who Have a Way with Words - Robert W. Bly
covers a variety of jobs, including technical writing

The Tech Writer's Survival Guide - Janet Van Wicklen
covers the duties of a tech writer, including misconceptions about the work


Ethics and Tech Writing


Style Guides

A style guide presents the rules for citing sources and deals with such tricky questions as "When do you spell out a number instead of using a digit?"

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
covers the same ground as The ACS Style Guide, with a focus on documents written in the social sciences

A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations - Kate Turabian
for documents written in engineering, computer science and other fields of technology


Technical Writing Manuals

A good technical writing book will focus on reader-based writing--that is, the book will talk about how to analyze your readers and produce writing that will meet their information needs.  Some other topics commonly covered in technical writing books are computer-based communication (for example, how to write an effective email), proposal writing, instruction manuals, the use of graphics, and effective letter writing. 

Does it matter how old the book is?  Yes and no.  The vehicles for communication have shifted in the past two decades from paper to electronic, and that shift has affected not only the speed at which we can transmit information but also the readers' expectations--readers are expecting briefer, more focused documents, presented in short, direct sentences.  But the heart of technical writing--how to figure out what information the reader needs and how best to present it--has not changed.  So an older book, if it focuses on the communication process, can be as valuable as, if not more so than, a new book.

Cover Art
Handbook for Technical Writing - James H. Shelton
covers types of audiences and types of documents

How to Write and Present Technical Information - Charles H. Sides
how to write and design for electronic media, public relations and marketing

Cover Art
The Craft of Research - Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams
persuasive writing, evaluating sources, graphics, organization, drafting and revision

Cover Art
The MIT Guide to Science and Engineering Communication - James G. Paradis and Muriel L. Zimmerman
an ebook; audience analysis, drafting, revising, graphics, letters, email, proposals, progress reports, articles, oral presentations

Cover Art
The Science Writers' Handbook - Writers of SciLance Staff; Thomas Hayden (Editor); Michelle Nijhuis (Editor)
Call Number: NEW 808.0665 SCIENCE 2013
ISBN: 0738216569
Publication Date: 2013-04-30
Advice on making money as a writer of popular-science articles.


Brushing Up on Basic Writing Skills

A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation - Noah Lukeman
thorough discussion of the period, the comma, the semicolon, the colon, quotation marks, the dash and parentheses, the paragraph and section break

Comma Sense - Richard Lederer and John Shore
covers 13 marks of punctuation

E-Z Grammar - Dan Mulvey
parts of speech, verb tenses, subject-verb agreement

Essentials of English - Vincent F. Hopper, Cedric Gale, Ronald C. Foote
sentence structure, usage, punctuation, writing style

Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips - Lara M. Robbins
parts of speech, punctuation, capitalization, spelling, abbreviations

Painless Spelling - Mary Elizabeth Podhaizer
an ebook; how to learn to spell by recognizing sound and letter patterns

Practical Spelling - LearningExpress
20 lessons intended to take 20 minutes each

Proofreading, Revising & Editing Skills Success in 20 Minutes a Day - Brady Smith
common writing problems, how to evaluate a paper's effectiveness

Spelling the Easy Way - Joseph Mersand, Francis Griffith, Kathryn O'D. Griffith
basic spelling rules, lists of commonly misspelled words, memory devices

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well - Laurie E. Rozakis
grammar, sentence structure, research writing, history of language

Vocabulary and Spelling Success - LearningExpress
connotations, denotations and spellings of words

Write Right!: A Desktop Digest of Punctuation, Grammar and Style - Jan Venolia
covers the writing process, parts of speech, punctuation

Writing and Grammar Skills Improvement - LearningExpress Library
a free, online course offered through the LearningExpress Library, a database of instruction and practice tests

Subject Guide

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Ramona Lucius
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Librarian II
Igo Library
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Subject Guide

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Pannaga Prasad
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Central Library
600 Soledad

Science Writing

Although there is a lot of crossover, scientific writing can be quite different, in form as well as content, from technical writing.

Interacting with Audiences - Ann M. Blakeslee
examines the composing processes of physicists

Handbook of Science Communication - Anthony Wilson
how to speak and write for the public and the media

How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper - Robert A. Day and Barbara Gastel
how to prepare the text and graphic elements, acquire rights and permissions, work with the media and general public

Helpful Websites


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