David J. Donahoo
Associate Professor, Liberty University
Submitted in Accordance With
Guidance in the BMIS 200 Syllabus
This paper provides students in the BMIS 200 course with an introduction to technical writing—one of the critical success factors for their future employment and career advancement. In this paper, students will be exposed to Four basic skills that will improve your technical writing. These include: flow and format, writing in complete thoughts, proper use of white space, and readability. This paper provides various tips to help you be successful in your college research writing and your follow-on professional life.
Table of Contents
General Concepts 6
Flow and Format 7
Flow Tips and Pointers 7 TIP 1: Body 8 TIP 2: Introduction 8 TIP 3: Conclusion 8
Complete Thoughts 9
White Space 10
Sample References 13
No matter where you are at in your life-long educational or professional career you will benefit from honing your technical writing skills. Believe me when I say this; technical writing takes your normal writing skills in a different direction. Some of the things you received praise from in high school composition classes will draw scorn in a technical review.
This single paper (and the accompanying writing exercise) is not going to make you an expert technical writer. But by applying these concepts (and practicing them throughout your various classes along the path to reaching for your educational goals), you will be provided two-fold benefits. First, your research papers will be easier to write and you’ll receive better grades. Second, by the time you graduate, you will be proficient at producing a technical report. This factor alone will give you some job hunting competitive advantage as there are many college graduates out there who cannot effectively put pencil to paper.
The usual method for starting a technical paper is to review current documents in the topic area and then follows-up with the thoughts of the author of the paper. This would be considered the literature review; a summation of what all the “experts” have to say about your topic. If this paper was being submitted for publication, I would also follow that model as well. But, as this paper is being prepared specifically for a class, it was decided best that we keep it focused on your class requirements. This paper will provide you the foundation that, if followed applied to your writings in the BMIS program, will be easily accepted. However, more important, are the foundational writing skills that will carry your career forward. You will find that what many of you will think is just a given professor’s “quirks” are really just plain good report writing standards.
While there are many potential pitfalls in technical writing, we have found four basic challenges that will lead to your successful writing. These are: flow and format, writing in complete thoughts, proper use of white space, and readability. Work on and master these four and you will be well on your way.
Flow and Format
This is the most important of the four. In fact, over time, mastering flow and form will lead writers to satisfying the other three without much additional effort. Flow and format are critical elements to writing anything above a short answer response. This includes responding to essay questions in homework and exams as well as research papers.
This is a very basic concept. Everything you write must have three basic parts: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. The beginning, the middle, and the end, or, as many have simplified it this way:
1. Tell them what you are going to tell them, then
2. Tell them what you want to tell them, and finally
3. Tell them