Engr 138/139 Technical Written/Oral Communication Style in Technical Writing

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ENGR 138/139 Technical Written/Oral Communication

Style in Technical Writing

A) Identify problems and rewrite the following passages.

(Source: The Elements of Technical Writing, Gary Blake and Robert W. Bly. Longman 1993.)

1) “The backpropagation neural networks were trained by researchers in Tokio to recognize different forms of handwriting.”

2) “Anthropologists have long observed that the Jale people, who live and dwell in New Guinea, will exhibit cannibalism in that they will eat the bodies of enemies they slay in the conflict of war.”

  1. “In the majority of cases, the data provided by direct examination of fresh material under the lens of the microscope are insufficient for the proper identification of bacteria.”

B) In these passages, change passive verbs into actives only where you think it will improve the sentence. If necessary, invent a rhetorical situation to account for your choice of active or passive.

(Source: Style, Joseph M. Williams. Pearson Education, 2003.)

  1. “Your figures were reanalyzed to determine their accuracy. You will be contacted by the reviewer when it is judged appropriate.”

  1. “Home mortgage loans new are made for thirty years. With the price of housing at inflated levels, those loans cannot be paid off in a shorter time.”

  1. “Many arguments were advanced against Darwinian evolution in the nineteenth century because basic assumptions about our place in the world were challenged by it. No longer were we defined as privileged creatures but rather as a product of natural forces.”

C) Rewrite the passage below for clarity and conciseness.

(Source: Style, Joseph M. Williams. Pearson Education, 2003, p73.)

“Apart from the theoretical conceptualization there would appear to be no method of selecting among the indefinite number of varying kinds of factual observation which can be made about a concrete phenomenon or field so that the various descriptive statements about it articulate into a coherent whole, which constitutes an ‘adequate,’ a ‘determinate’ description. Adequacy in description is secured insofar as determinate and verifiable answers can be given to all the scientifically important questions involved. what questions are important is largely determined by the logical structure of the generalized conceptual scheme which, implicitly or explicitly, is employed.”

D) Read the passage below and analyze it carefully to identify any problems related to the flow of topics. Rewrite the passage to address the problems you observe. As a hint, we recommend that you decide who should be the main characters in the passage and then make those characters the subjects of as many sentences as you can.

(Source: Style, Joseph M. Williams. Pearson Education, 2003, p90.)

Some potential threats exist in the modern mass communications media, though there are many significant advantages. If a powerful minority should happen to control it, public opinion could be manipulated through biased reporting. And while a wide knowledge of public affairs is a great advantage that results from national coverage, divisiveness and factionalism can be accentuated by connecting otherwise isolated, local conflicts into a single larger conflict as a result of showing that conflicts about the same issues are occurring in different places. It will always be true, of course, that human nature produces different opinion, but the threat of faction and division may be reinforced when national coverage publicizes uninformed opinions. According to some, education can suppress faction when the true nature of conflicts reaches the public through the media, but history has shown that as much coverage is given to people who encourage conflict as to people who try to remove conflict.”

E) Rewrite the sentences below to improve on style.

(Source: Style, Joseph M. Williams. Pearson Education, 2003, pp.121-129.)

  1. “Scientific research generally depends on fully accurate data if it is to offer theories that will allow us to predict the future in a plausible way.”

  1. “In regard to desirable employment in teaching positions, prospects for those engaged in graduate school level studies are at best not certain.”

  1. “No alternative exists in this country to the eventual development of tar sand, oil shale, and coal as sources of fuel, if we wish to stop being energy dependent on imported oil.”

  1. “This essay will survey recent research in the schemata theory as applied to the pedagogy of mathematical problem solving.”

  1. “We will consider scientific thinking and its historical roots in connection with the influence of Egypt on Greek thought.”

6) “But on the other hand, we can perhaps point out that there may always be TV programming to appeal to our most prurient and, therefore, lowest interests.”

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