Technical writing tips

Audience: You should tailor your communication to meet the audience needs. Ask yourself - who are your intended readers? You should use different language when addressing a technical expert as opposed to an audience that has limited knowledge. Think about what the audience members will do with the information. Consider their knowledge level.

Context: The context determines how the reader or listener will receive and interpret the message. It helps the writer determine what format is appropriate and how the subject should be approached.

Some more top tips for writing your paper

Organisation: Identify the one central and novel contribution of your paper. Write this down in one paragraph. As with all your writing, this must be concrete. A contribution includes an addition to your field’s overall knowledge 

How do you add value? Don’t write “I analyzed data on executive compensation and found many interesting results.” Explain the central results. For example, Fama and French (1992) start their abstract with: 

“Two easily measured variables, size and book-to-market equity, combine to capture the cross-sectional variation in average stock returns associated with market B, size, leverage, book-to-market equity, and earnings-price ratios.” 

Distilling one central contribution will take some thought. Focus on one contribution, and help readers to get it quickly. Your readers are busy and impatient. Never assume that they will read the whole paper from start to finish. Make it easy for your readers to skim. Readers want to know your basic result. 

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