Professional and Technical Writing/Glossary
These terms should be familiar to professional and technical writers.
Glossary of Terms
Advisers - people that gather detailed information and provide information to decision makers.
Brainstorming - generating ideas as quickly as possible, withholding evaluation of those ideas until later.
Complex Audience - the diverse group of people who may read your writing from different perspectives.
Copyright Law - set of laws that determine whether you can use other people's writing without their permission.
Cover Letter - a letter written to an employer that briefly states why a job applicant should be considered for a position. Cover letters should be written specifically for the job one is applying for.
Cluster Sketch - writing your overall topic in the center of a page and then adding subtopics, joining them to the main topic or each other.
Decision Makers - people in an organization that determine what the company will do sometime in the future.
Executive Summary - a brief summary at the beginning of a report that gives only the most important information to decision makers. Also called an abstract.
Freewriting - writing new ideas down in complete sentences without stopping so that new ideas continue to flow.
Future Readers - people who will read your writing/s sometime in the future.
Implementers - people in an organization who carry out the decisions made by the decision makers.
Job Search Websites - online sites in which you can post your resume and also find/contact potential employers that have information posted. Such sites include Monster.com, Careerbuilder.com, Theladders.com, Jobdig.com, Hotjobs.yahoo.com, and other job search websites.
Letter - a written communication written to someone outside of the organization.
Memo - short for memorandum, a brief written communication that follows a format specific to the company in which it was written. Memos are written from someone within an organization to others inside the organization.
Outline - a brief description of the main points or sections of a written document that make it more navigable and organized.
PAR Statement - a key piece of a cover letter that explains a problem one has experienced, the action he/she took to solve the problem, and the resolution that resulted from the actions. The PAR Statement is usually located in the second paragraph of a cover letter, and it should be relative to the position you are applying for.
Phantom Readers - people who will read your writing even though you did not intend for them to read it.
Portable Document Format (PDF) - the preferred form of which a document should be exchanged online. This format was created by Adobe systems, and it is very transportable across different computer platforms.
Professional Writing - writing that takes place in the workplace that is persuasive, legally binding, and may address complex audiences.
Proposal - a document that is supposed to persuade the potential buyer.
Reader-Centered Approach - writing that considers readers' situations, goals, and expectations.
Résumé - a document containing a summary of one's education, professional experience, and job qualifications. Résumés should be limited to one page, unless one is applying for a position as a senior executive.
Skills Résumé - a résumé where the applicant's accomplishments and experience are consolidated in a section at the beginning of the résumé
Stakeholders - people inside and outside of an organization that your writing may affect.
Superstructures - an agreed upon format for organizing documents that are frequently used in the workplace.
Technical Writing - writing that conveys information that is difficult to understand in a clear, concise, correct, and compelling manner.
Usability - the ease to which a reader can understand a written communication to perform their specific task.
Typographic Contrast - Using different sizes and weights of fonts to create a distinct difference between elements. This can be used best to create an effective difference between headings and body text.
White Space - Empty space used in a document to spread out information.
Technical Writing Terms
Abstract - a summary in the beginning of a formal report or proposal. Also called an Executive Summary.
Back Matter - features of a communication that appear after the last chapter or section such as appendixes, glossaries, and indexes.
Bottom-Up Processing - readers attempt to guess how small bits of information in a paragraph will fit together.
Cause and Effect - a way to organize a communication that helps readers understand the relationship between one topic caused by another.
Classification - arranging information into groups that are related.
Comparison - choosing either of two categories to classify facts.
Echo Words - words that remind readers of information they've already encountered.
Executive Summary - a summary tailored to the needs of executives that expresses the main points of a formal report in a concise manner.
Forecasting Statements - state the organization of what lies ahead, often appearing with a topic statement.
Formal Classification - grouping items according to observable characteristics that every item possesses.
Formal Report - a report which has a cover page along with front matter and back matter.
Front Matter - features of a communication that precedes the opening chapter or section such as the title page, executive summary, or table of contents.
Headings - signposts in a communication that tell readers what the next section is about.
Inclusive Language - words that are gender-neutral rather than containing the words man, he, or she.
Informal Classification - grouping items together when there is not a consistent principle of classification or when there is overlap between the categories.
Memo - a brief note between a few sentences and a few pages that is usually used to communicate with others inside the writers workplace.
Openness - how initially receptive your reader is to your writing.
Parallelism - arranging sentences and lists with similarly constructed words and phrases.
Partitioning - dividing an object into separate parts in order to describe the object.
Problem and Solution - a pattern of organization that proposes future action based on the original problem.
Segmenting - dividing a process into separate parts in order to describe the process.
Top-Down Processing - readers know the overall structure of a communication enabling them to know how the information will fit together.
Topic Statement - increases usability by explicitly stating what a paragraph is about.
Transitions - allow the reader to understand how adjacent parts of a communication are connected.
Usability - the ease with which your intended audience can use your writing to perform their tasks of which your writing was supposed to enable.