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TECHNICAL WRITING - BWR301

Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Study technical writing to improve your writing skills in report writing, technical writing, academic and professional writing.

  • Learn the skills required in technical writing.
  • Learn to write articles, technical reports and much more.
  • Learn about presentation and styles.
  • At ACS we teach from real life experience - learn from industry experts.

Courses can be started anytime from anywhere in the world!

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Study Technical Writing and boost your career! 

This technical writing course is essential for anyone wanting to move into technical writing or improve their existing writing skills.

  • Learn about different writing styles.
  • Learn how to deal with problems, such as technical jargon, focus, writing concisely.
  • Understand the different ways of working - collaborative, in-house, contract.

THIS COURSE IS SUITABLE FOR

The course is suitable for -

  • existing writers,
  • new and improving writers,
  • staff who wish to move into technical writing as part of their job.

STUDY TECHNICAL WRITING WITH ACS

  • Useful for professional, CPD or interest.
  • Develop your skills in writing for different media.
  • Course Duration: 100 hours of self-paced study.
  • Start at any time and study where and when you want.

This Technical Writing course develops the student's ability to write on technical matters for academic and general audiences. The course aims to improve your ability to write for a wide range of media, such as articles for the print media (magazines, newspapers and technical journals), technical reports, proposals, instructional manuals, marketing materials and much more.

We focus on different writing styles, problems (such as - technical jargon, focus, writing concisely) and different ways of working (collaborative, in-house, contract).

On completing this course, a student should have a greater capacity to write marketable materials and be better able to work in a greater variety of situations.

COURSE STRUCTURE AND CONTENT

There are 9 lessons in this course:

Lesson 1. Scope and Nature of Technical Writing

  • Nature and Scope.
  • Quality of Information.
  • Nature of Language.
  • Structure.
  • Characteristics of Technical Writing.

Lesson 2. Presentation of Technical Writing

  • Presentation.
  • Basic Parts of a Document (Written text, Images, White space).
  • Headings.
  • Types of Images (Tables, Charts, Graphs, Photos, Drawings).
  • Captions and Labels.
  • Main Elements (Front Matter, Body, end matter).
  • Creating an Index.
  • Elements of Different types of Technical Documents (References, Texts, Journals, Reports, etc.).
  • Referencing.

Lesson 3. Matching Style and Content to the Audience

  • Writing for an Audience.
  • Writing Well.
  • Writing Guidelines (Jargon, Gender neutral writing, Using simple sentences, passive or active language, first, second or third person, etc.).
  • Spelling, Grammar.
  • Editing, Proof reading.

Lesson 4. Planning: Developing a Logical Structure or Format

  •  Creating a Technical Document.
  • Research the Document; gather information.
  • Plan; decide on the format .
  • Write; create an outline and then write the first draft.
  • Verify; check the accuracy of what you have written.
  • Revise; amend the document before.
  • Writing a First Draft.

Lesson 5. Collaborative Writing

  • Working in a team.
  • Tasks and Roles.
  • Technical Brief.
  • Strategies for Collaboration.
  • Style Guide.
  • Using Templates.
  • Using Email Effectively.

Lesson 6. Writing Technical Articles for Periodicals

  • Writing for Periodicals.
  • Publisher Specifications.
  • Writing Descriptions and Specifications.
  • Journal Abstracts.

Lesson 7. Writing Manuals and Procedures

  • Writing manuals.
  • Writing Instructions and Procedures.
  • Guidelines.
  • Troubleshooting.

Lesson 8. Writing Project Proposals

  • What is a Proposal?
  • Proposal Categories (Solicited and Unsolicited).
  • Model for Writing Proposals.
  • Grant Proposals.
  • The Stop Format.

Lesson 9. Writing Project Reports

  • Types of Reports.
  • Progress Reports.
  • Completion Reports.
  • Review Reports.
  • Regulatory Reports.
  • Feasibility Reports.
  • Scientific Reports.
  • Elements of a Formal Report.
  • Executive Summaries.

COURSE AIMS

  • Identify a broad range of situations where technical writing is used and where you might gainfully apply those skills.
  • Present technical documentation for a variety of situations.
  • Determine how to write appropriately for a defined audience.
  • Develop formats for different documents that follow a logical appropriate structure.
  • Explain how to effectively collaborate with one or more people in the production of a technical writing assignment.
  • Write items of technical writing that are appropriate for publication in different types of periodicals including: popular magazines, industry magazines, scientific journals, newspapers and e-zines.
  • Write easy to follow, technically accurate instructions for a variety of processes, using a variety of equipment.
  • Write a formal proposal for a project.
  • Write in an effective and appropriate style of report, during, or on conclusion of a project.

TECHNICAL WRITING IS FOUND EVERYWHERE

Students frequently start this course with an idea of how they might use technical writing skills across a narrow range of things; but inevitably, most finish the course with a far broader perspective on how they might apply technical writing.

You might not yet think of technical writing in this way; but you will encounter technical writing frequently in normal daily living; even if you are not studying or working in technical or scientific pursuits.

Consider the instructions you need to follow when you set up a new sound system in your home, or put together a piece of modular furniture you just purchased. These documents are technical writing.

When you surf the internet to compare different cars you are thinking about buying; you will compare what is written about each option. What you are reading here is technical writing.

When you purchase a new camera or phone, the instructions are technical writing; and when you buy a computer magazine or even a gardening magazine, you will be confronted with pages of technical writing.

Someone needs to write all of these things and a whole lot more; and they need skills in technical writing.

WRITING FOR PERIODICALS 

A periodical literature or publication, most often shortened simply to periodical, is published work which appears regularly. Examples of this include newspapers or magazines, published daily or weekly; annual yearbooks are another example of a periodical which is published much less frequently.

Articles are found within periodicals. Articles are the best way for people to read about recent events and current topics.

If you have a technical article published in a periodical (in print or online) will greatly benefit your writing career. The more noted or prestigious the publication, the greater recognition and credibility you will accumulate as a writer. Indeed, being regularly published in prestigious journals or newspapers is the surest way to fast-track a career in academic research or journalism.

Some general points for writing in publications include:

  • Research the publication before you submit your article (see publisher specifications below). Look at the type of articles published, note their content, length, tone and style. Find out the publication’s standing within your industry (ask colleagues), and research the demographic that read the publication.
  • Write and edit the article to the highest possible standard before submission. This means the article must be technically correct, well written and ruthlessly edited. Many technical articles are peer reviewed, so your credibility as a researcher, writer and expert in your field depends on the quality of your submission.
  • Do not send out multiple submissions. It is considered bad form to send a manuscript to more than one publisher at a time. Wait until you receive a rejection letter before trying someone else. Expect to wait up to eight weeks. If you do not hear by this time, contact the editor to let them know you would like to approach another publication.
WRITING RESEARCH PAPERS AND JOURNAL ARTICLES

Research papers and journal articles are written in the technical language of the discipline they relate to. Many of the words and phrases used relate specifically to the field of enquiry i.e. they use jargon. Most publishers require their articles to be of a particular format and provide a style guide for editors. 

A typical layout for a scientific paper is as follows:

  • Title - a brief description which refers to the content.
  • Authors  - names of the researchers with the main writer's name first.
  • Abstract - a terse summary of the findings presented in one paragraph.
    Introduction - the research question or hypothesis and an outline of other relevant research.
  • Method - what was done and how it was done including materials or apparatus used.
  • Results - a presentation of the findings, including relevant tables or graphs.
  • Discussion - a report on whether the findings supported or contradicted the research question and how they compare to other research in the area.
  • Why the results were or were not as expected and suggestion for further research. The discussion ends with a sentence or short paragraph summary.
  • References - a list of other researcher's findings cited within the article presented in alphabetical order.

Scientific writing must flow smoothly. It is imperative that the reader is able to clearly understand and see the link between the background for the study, its research question and conclusions. Unnecessary words and phrases should be removed or shortened so as not to interrupt the flow. However, it is perfectly acceptable to repeat the same word twice within a sentence for the sake of clarity since the emphasis is on accuracy. Writing can be made more succinct by using shorter words and sentences, concise terms, and verbs instead of abstract nouns. If pronouns like 'it' or 'they' are used then it should be clear what they refer to. 

Generally speaking, scientific papers are written in the past tense although suggestions for further research are written in the future tense. In the main, research papers are written in the third person e.g. "Questionnaires were administered to" rather than the first person "I/We administered questionnaires to". However, the first person may also be used to describe any unique aspects of the experiment or research.  

When writing scientific papers there are some other important things to be aware of:

  • Illustrations (including any tables, figures or graphs) - should be clearly labelled and easily understood. Ideally they should be able to be interpreted without reading the text. They also need to be in the appropriate section e.g. tables showing experimental conditions should be in the method.
  • Tables - these should have a clear heading above the table describing what is presented in the table. Each successive table should be sequentially numbered (e.g. Table 1, 2, 3 or Table i, ii, iii according to the style guide). Results tables should only summarise results (not include lengthy calculations). 
  • Graphs - both axes should be labelled.
    figures - these are usually labelled below the figure and as for tables are sequentially labelled.
  • Standard abbreviations - these are frequently used abbreviations e.g. ml for millilitres. Where other words are abbreviated they should only be abbreviated if used more than a few times within the article and need to be defined the first time they are used. 
  • Citations - there are different ways to cite references in the text e.g. Smith & Jones (1999), Smith & Jones1, Smith & Jonesi, or (1). The format will be in accordance with the publications style guide. Each citation is then written up in more detail (Title of the article, journal or textbook, publisher, date of publication) in reference list.
  • Reference lists - again these are written in accordance with the journal requirements. Some prefer the Harvard style of referencing, others have variations on this.

It is important to spell check scientific and technical writing. If you use a computer to edit documents you should be aware that your spell-checker programme will not recognise all scientific terms. In fact, it may not recognise too many of them depending on how specialised the paper is. You may need to consult a dictionary e.g. medical dictionary for medical documents, psychology dictionary for psychological papers, and so forth. Editors will ordinarily do the final check if the writing is being offered for publication. If it is written as a university thesis or other academic project, then you'll need to check it yourself or have a colleague read over it for you.

HOW THE COURSE WORKS

You can start the course at any time.

It is studied by distance learning, so you can study in the comfort of your own home. But this doesn't mean you are all alone in your studies.  Our highly qualified and friendly tutors are there to help you every step of the way.  If you have any questions at all, they are always happy to help.

Each lesson includes set tasks, and is completed with an assignment which the student submits to their course tutor.  The tutor will mark the assignment and return this to the student with comments and suggestions for further reading.

STUDENT TESTIMONIALS - WHAT DO OUR STUDENTS SAY ABOUT STUDYING WITH ACS?

"Having always been in accounting or payroll jobs, I decided to give the course a go. The course demonstrated to me what I enjoyed writing about, the types of writing I was good at, and not so good at. It broadened my horizon to show me what was out there to write about. It gave me knowledge and confidence. I have continued to write, and in the future want to commence with the next course, but in the meantime, I have submitted various articles of mine to some magazines and have had nothing but positive feedback from all the editors and some of my work is to be published!! Which I personally feel is fantastic as I have only been doing this for a year or so. Thank you for opening up a whole new world of creativity to me which I can only enhance upon!!"
Jo

"I think the course is a valuable learning experience as I feel I’m being challenged along the way. Generally, I am impressed with the service I have received from ACS since enrolling. The enrolment process was very quick and all email support has been prompt and helpful. The tutors seem very pleasant and helpful in their remarks, and this keeps me motivated. It is very encouraging when they offer additional information or ask questions of me/my writing."
Sally Vanston, Technical Writing course.

AT ACS WE TEACH FROM REAL LIFE EXPERIENCE

You have probably heard the saying, "If you can't, teach!" Well not with ACS tutors. We CAN do and we CAN teach. 

We are writers as well as teachers. Most of our academic staff are professional writers. The school writes and publishes it's own books. We also regularly contribute articles to mainstream publications both in the UK and Australia. 

At ACS Distance Education, our teachers do not only TEACH, they also write. Our Principal and Tutors have been heavily involved in writing a range of eBooks to complement our courses.

WHAT NEXT?

Register to Study - Go to the “It’s Easy to Enrol” box at the top of the page and you can enrol now.

Or - connect with our specialist Writing and Journalism tutors - submit your questions to them, they will be pleased to hear from you.

Meet some of our academics

John MasonMr Mason has worked 45+ years in Writing, Education, Horticulture and Recreation. His experience in both public & private sectors is extensive; particularly across Australia and England.
Alison Pearce (animal)B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Masters Degree in Ecotourism. P.G.Cert. Ed. (Science). Alison's first job was in 1982 as a stockwoman, working with pigs in Yorkshire. Within a few years she of that she was working for the University of Western Australia as a Research Technician and instructor with their school of Agricultural Science.In 1989 she moved to Melbourne University as Unit Manager and Instructor in Animal Husbandry. By the mid 1990's she moved back to England to work in Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing at Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture. Throughout her career, Alison has developed and delivered courses in veterinary nursing and animal sciences for vocational colleges and universities in Australia, New Zealand and Australia. She has built a high level of expertise and an outstanding international reputation as an expert in animal sciences.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.
Tracey Jones (writing)Tracey has enjoyed creative writing since she was a child. She has had several short stories published and a novella. She is also a keen writer of children's stories and poetry. She has also written many academic and non-fiction books in the fields of psychology, sociology, child development, writing and marketing.


Check out our eBooks

Creative WritingThe Creative Writing ebook can be useful for writing students or even professional writers to help improve their writing techniques and skills. The Creative Writing ebook is a fabulous starting point for budding writers. The topics that are covered within this book are an introduction to creative writing, Methodology and technique- the building blocks of writing, Genres, Creative non-fiction, creative writing techniques, developing your skill, building your career and a Glossary.
English GrammarThe English Grammar ebook can be a great reference for students, people who are learning English and anybody who writes anything- ever. The English Grammar ebook takes grammar back to basics to help confirm correct use of grammar. Topics that are covered within this course include 1/ Introduction- the components of language, 2/ Types of words, 3/ Punctuation, 4/ Upper and lower case, abbreviations, numbers, bullet points and 5/ Using words together.
Professional WritingProfessional writing is any writing that you are being paid for. It can include fiction writing, a best-selling book, articles in a magazine, articles in a newspaper, blogs for companies, technical manuals or procedure manuals, copy for catalogues, newsletters, text books and other academic material and so on.
Technical WritingThe Technical Writing ebook has been written for anybody who would like to become a technical writer, add technical writing to their repertoire of skills, or improve their technical writing skills. Technical Writing is not just limited to scientific or technical documents, is necessary for writing manuals, reports or promotional materials. To be a technical writer you must have a broad range of skills in order to secure employment or ongoing projects, if you are working as a freelance technical writer. To work successfully in this field you will need: - Excellent communication skills - Logic and precision - Excellent word processing skills - To be able to manage projects - To work efficiently and independently - A solid, broad education - Improving your skills and knowledge - Great networking skills