Technical writing

What is technical writing? 

These pages contain general tips and hints for writing articles and longer pieces of writing. SMILE also contains specific guidance on report writing. Technical writing is informative writing that relates to the following subject areas:

  • technical
  • scientific
  • engineering

It conveys complex information to a specific audience. If the audience cannot understand or use the information presented, then the writer has failed. Good technical writing is:

  • accurate
  • clear
  • concise

Accuracy. Avoid writing a phrase like “Increasing the temperature caused a large change in the reaction rate.” Instead, write “Increasing the temperature by 10°C doubled the reaction rate.”

Clarity. If a report does not contain clear information, the reader cannot understand, believe, or care. Three questions to ask yourself:

  • Do I understand?
  • Do I believe?
  • Do I care?

Conciseness. Avoid unnecessary words, so - result, not end result and plans, not future plans.

Creative Commons License
PILOT - Technical writing by Marion Kelt, GCU, Vince Ricci, CIEE, Joe Schall, Penn State University and Glynis Perkin, Loughborough University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Details on our credits page.