Technical Writing Skills Tip – The Description

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Written by John Lafferty
John Lafferty, Northridge Quality and Validation
Read time: 2 minutes

The Description in a Technical Report

The majority of technical reports include some type of description, either of objects, processes or ideas. A description can be physical, functional or both. Good descriptions are crucial to creating good documents and they should utilise the Outside-In approach, a technique discussed in a previous blog (January 2018)

The following are 15 points to consider when writing descriptions in a technical report:

  1. Consider the technical level of the intended reader
  2. Begin with the name of the object followed by its definition.
  3. Include a labelled diagram or photograph.
  4. Describe the most obvious details first and then go on to specific details.
  5. Sequence the details of the descriptions to make the picture complete and understandable.
  6. Describe how things work and how to perform certain actions.
  7. Identify process steps and human interaction.
  8. Explain how things look before, during, or after the process.
  9. Provide examples of what you are explaining.
  10. Compare the process to something familiar to help readers understand.
  11. Check, with the device in front of you, for completeness, logical order; and word choice.
  12. Anticipate questions
  13. Avoid abstract words such as pretty, really or very.
  14. Use precise, concrete adjectives or terms such as parallel, smooth, one metre high.
  15. Define any technical terms.

Technical Writing Skills Training Course

Northridge Quality & Validation and our training partners, SQT Training are running a comprehensive training course on Technical Writing Skills. Note: This course will be delivered via a Virtual Classroom (not in person).

Course Title: Technical Writing Skills

Course Date and Booking: Course booking and future course dates can be found on the SQT Training website.

Course Content: Our structured, practical programme will help you to identify the key message you need to deliver in your written document and to deliver it clearly and concisely in a way that will ensure it is understood.

About the Author – John Lafferty

John Lafferty is the Technical Writing Skills course tutor at SQT Training Ltd. John also delivers courses in Quality Systems, Process Validation, Software Validation and Quality Risk Management on behalf of SQT. John runs a highly successful Quality Management Consultancy, Northridge Quality & Validation, which specialises in assisting companies in the Life Sciences manufacturing sector.
technical writing online virtual course