A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication (and technical writing).


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5th Grade Grammar: Take the Quiz!

If you think your grammar skills are top notch, take this 5th grade grammar quiz to find out!

Eftekhar, Christina. Carolina Communique (2012). Articles>Writing>Grammar


America the Beautiful

Writers of English have choices. Most every word we commit to paper (or its electronic equivalent) has a synonym

Wenger, Andrea. Carolina Communique (2007). Articles>Writing>Grammar>Tropes


Appearing for Sentence

Commas, semi-colons and colons are the sentence tidiers. Used correctly, they'll give your written language the 'punctuation' that pauses, voice modulations and gestures provide when you speak.

Right Words (2006). Articles>Writing>Style Guides>Grammar


Basics for Communicating Clearly

Like the pronouns I, he, she, we, and they, the pronoun who is used as the subject of a verb.

Shacklock, Linda. STC Phoenix (2006). Articles>Writing>Grammar


Business Writing Tips for Technical Communicators

Technical communication tends to focus on delivering objective information in a clear, accurate, and accessible way. Business writing, on the other hand, often has an emotional component. Sometimes we have to deliver bad news. Sometimes we need to gather information from people already stressed because they’re busy with other things. Here are some tips for effective business writing.

Wenger, Andrea. Carolina Communique (2010). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Grammar


Control the Pace

Control the pace of the story by varying sentence length.

Clark, Roy Peter. Poynter Online (2004). Articles>Writing>Grammar>Rhetoric


Correcting Text Production Errors: Isolating the Effects of Writing Mode From Error Span, Input Mode, and Lexicality   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Error analysis involves detecting, diagnosing, and correcting discrepancies between the text produced so far (TPSF) and the writers mental representation of what the text should be. The use of different writing modes, like keyboard-based word processing and speech recognition, causes different type of errors during text production. While many factors determine the choice of error-correction strategy, cognitive effort is a major contributor to this choice. This research shows how cognitive effort during error analysis affects strategy choice and success as measured by a series of online text production measures. Text production is shown to be influenced most by error span, that is, whether the error spans more or less than two characters. Next, it is influenced by input mode, that is, whether the error has been generated by speech recognition or keyboard, and finally by lexicality, that is, whether the error comprises an existing word. Correction of larger error spans is more successful than that of smaller errors. Writers impose a wise speed accuracy trade-off during large error spans since correction is better, but preparation times (time to first action) and production times take longer, and interference reaction times are slower. During large error spans, there is a tendency to opt for error correction first, especially when errors occurred in the condition in which the TPSF is not preceded by an auditory prompt. In general, the addition of speech frees the cognitive demands of writing. Writers also opt more often to continue text production when the TPSF is presented auditorially first.

Leijten, Mariëlle, Luuk Van Waes and Sarah Ransdell. Written Communication (2010). Articles>Writing>Editing>Grammar


Dangling for Position

Dangling modifiers can be humorous for the reader, but humiliating for the writer. They're insidious, creeping into our prose and undermining our sentence structure. But they're easy to find if you know what to look for.

Wenger, Andrea. Carolina Communique (2006). Articles>Writing>Grammar


Dodge the Grammar Traps

You don't have to swallow a grammar book to write correctly. If you can just avoid ten serious and very common traps, your chances of making a grammar mistake drop dramatically.

McAlpine, Rachel. Quality Web Content (2004). Articles>Writing>Grammar


Don't Lose Your Articles

One of the difficult concepts to understand in the English language is perhaps the manner in which articles are used in a sentence. Over the course of one's life history, every student of English has had to face this nightmare at one point of time or another. The verbs are all in place and you know the nouns, the pronouns are fairly obvious, and the prepositions can eventually be worked out, but what comes before the word year and what comes before SMS is tricky.

Sastry, Uma. Indus (2009). Articles>Writing>Diction>Grammar


Don't Lose Your Articles - Part Two

In spite of having the thumb rules with us, we may still be at times unsure of placing the right articles. You may wonder sometimes like Sir Henry Higgins and say, ‘Why can’t we place the articles like the way it should be?’

Sastry, Uma. Indus (2009). Articles>Writing>Diction>Grammar


Double Take

If you write documentation for products that can be dangerous if misused, ambiguity is scarier than rush hour traffic on I-40. If you already know what the sentence means, it's difficult to perceive that it could be taken to mean something else. By stringently applying rules of grammar, you help eliminate potential ambiguity even when you don't perceive it. Technical content is difficult enough to navigate; give the reader a clear path so he can focus on the journey instead of the road.

Wenger, Andrea. Carolina Communique (2006). Articles>Writing>Grammar


Emphasize This!

Technical communicators tend to be problem solvers. We ask ourselves, 'How can I make this better?' We don't want our instruction material to simply be serviceable; we want it to help make our readers' lives easier. One way we do that is by anticipating mistakes that users might make if they don't read carefully. We use various techniques to emphasize material that could otherwise be overlooked. Some effective means of drawing the reader's eye to important material are presented below. Note that this article doesn't address safety messages. For proper use of safety messages, consult your corporate guidelines and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Wenger, Andrea. Carolina Communique (2007). Articles>Writing>Grammar


Every Noun Can Be...

When is a noun not a noun? When it's been verbed. A lot of verbing is going on, as you've probably noticed. In fact, it's happening so frequently that I think we'd better come up with a name for the part of speech produced by verbing a noun.

Allison, Nancy. Boston Broadside (1989). Articles>Writing>Diction>Grammar


Fear Not the Long Sentence

Everyone fears the long sentence. Editors fear it. Readers fear it. Most of all, writers fear it. Even I fear it. But...

Clark, Roy Peter. Poynter Online (2004). Articles>Writing>Grammar>Rhetoric


The Grammar Gravy Train

When you set yourself up as a grammar expert it's better than being an expert on plastics. To be an expert on plastics you actually have to know something about plastics. With grammar the analogous thing doesn't hold. Nobody asks, nobody checks, nobody knows enough to get suspicious. You are free as a bird to publish any garbage you might want to type out.

Pullum, Geoffrey K. Language Log (2009). Articles>Education>Writing>Grammar


Grammar Stammer

Don't you think that it is a tragedy that 95 percent of the people who desire to be technical writers have a poor command over the language? I am sure all of us make a mistake or two, once in a while. But to make it in every sentence and paragraph shows utter disrespect for readers.

Kamath, Gurudutt R. IT People (2003). Articles>Editing>Grammar>Technical Writing


How To Use An Apostrophe

A clear, well-illustrated guide to when one should (or should not) use an apostrophe.

Oatmeal, The (2009). Articles>Writing>Grammar>Technical Illustration


The Humble Hyphen

The hyphen serves a single function. It joins things together: syllables of a word separated at the end of a line; two words used as a compound; or a modifier and the word it describes (when the combination itself is used as a modifier). But for the latter two functions, a hyphen isn't always needed. So how do you decide?

Wenger, Andrea. Carolina Communique (2006). Articles>Writing>Grammar


I See Typos: Observations from the Desk of a Proofreader

Whether posting on social media, sending an email or responding to an RFP, your words are the first glimpse into who you are. So, be sure to meticulously review your writing or entice some friends to lend their eyes if you don't have a proofreader nearby. Your reputation and the reputation of your company is well worth a second (or third) look—wouldn’t you agree?

de Brunner, Claire. Siegel Gale (2014). Articles>Writing>Grammar


It's All Relative

When it comes to relative pronouns, incomplete knowledge may lead to frustration and confusion. The pronouns that, which, who, and what serve as relative pronouns when they introduce a relative (or subordinate) clause.

Wenger, Andrea. Carolina Communique (2007). Articles>Writing>Grammar


It's All Relative

When it comes to relative pronouns, incomplete knowledge may lead to frustration and confusion. The pronouns that, which, who, and what serve as relative pronouns when they introduce a relative (or subordinate) clause.

Wenger, Andrea. Carolina Communique (2007). Articles>Writing>Diction>Grammar


Make Sentence Structure Work for You

One of the easiest ways to improve your business writing is to create strong sentences. It really doesn't matter what you are writing; it could be an informal memo or an important report or proposal. Sentences that are concise, varied, and focused will give your documents a polished, professional touch.

Hibbard, Catherine S. Cypress Media Group (2007). Articles>Writing>Advice>Grammar


Misplaced Modifier – Even WSJ Falls For It

“Misplaced modifier” is a frequently committed logical error that even the most prominent publications fall for occasionally. Solution? Move the modifier clause right next to the subject of the sentence.

Technical Communication Center (2007). Articles>Writing>Editing>Grammar


More than "Correct"

I think it can be dangerous for a technical writer to be a grammar expert.

DeGraw, Yvonne. Boston Broadside (1993). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Grammar



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