Writing eTips UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You
April 2008 UpWrite Press - We Make Writing Work For You

Word Choice:
Using Technical Terms

Business writing presents either the need or the temptation to use technical terms. Just remember that your audience ought to dictate such use. Here are some tips for using (or not using) technical terms.

  • Use technical jargon for a technical audience. If, for example, you are writing a report for someone who clearly understands the terms, then by all means use specific technical jargon.

  • Use terms that have become standard through familiarity. For instance, most people nowadays are familiar with the terms global positioning system and high-definition television. So you can feel free to use the actual terms first, followed by the initials GPS or HDTV within parentheses. After that, you may use only the initials.

  • Substitute general terms for specific ones. Saying “slices of silicon” rather than “wafers” will give an uninformed reader a better picture of the item.

  • Provide definitions where needed. If the terms are important and integral to your message, use them along with a brief definition for quick understanding.

  • Italicize a technical term the first time you use it for a general audience. After that, do not italicize the word. (Of couse, italicizing is not necessary for a technical audience.)

Used improperly, technical language can muddy your message, so always consider your audience; when in doubt, err on the side of clarity.

You can find more about using technical terms on page 90 of Business and Sales Correspondence, part of the EZ Series of business writing materials from UpWrite Press.

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That Little Extra

More and more, businesses are opting for paperless transactions whenever possible. If you are asked to proofread or make changes to an electronic file, explore the “Track Changes” program that is built into many word processing programs. This can be a valuable tool, helping you see the various stages the piece has gone through. Be sure you understand how to eliminate the tracking column from your final copy—it can be tricky. Practice with it before you use it for an important piece.

Join Our Writers’ Forum

We invite you to be part of our monthly eTips. Each month we pose a question or problem regarding the use of writing in business. Send us your reply along with your name, your company’s name, and a brief description of what you do. We will print the best responses, and you will get your name out to our more than 5,000 subscribers! (We reserve the right to edit your remarks for fit and suitability.)

April Writers’ Forum Topic

How do you prepare yourself for writing? What mental and physical routines do you follow before putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard?

Email your response to writersforum@upwritepress.com. Write “April Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

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Coming in May:
Creating Parallel Construction in Sentences
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eTips is a publication of UpWrite Press, Inc., P.O. Box 460, Burlington, Wisconsin 53105. Copyright © 2008, UpWrite Press. All rights reserved. Visit www.upwritepress.com.