A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Diction refers to the technical writer's or the presenter's distinctive vocabulary choices and style of expression. It is a part of rhetoric.



Accessibility Allies Against A11y

The idea of accessibility is to make websites (or other things) more easily usable by people, most frequently specifically “people who are disabled”. This is emphatically not just about using alt tags (note: always call them tags, it annoys the purists). Accessibility is not just about the blind.

ThePickards (2009). Articles>Accessibility>Diction>Usability


Acronym Finder

The Acronym Finder is a world wide web searchable database of more than 193,000 abbreviations and acronyms about computers, technology, telecommunications, and military acronyms and abbreviations.

Mountain Data Systems. Reference>Dictionaries


Are you a “Writer” or an “Author”?

The trouble with the evolution of language is that it occasionally evolves a bit too far. You can end up with multiple words that can be used for the same purpose but which have fundamentally the same definition. You can even end up with words that don’t have any meaning at all. Take the generic greeting, “Hello”. What does it mean? We all know when to use it, so much so that it is used in just about every modern European language and quite a few others beside. What does it mean? Where did it come from? No one is really able to tell us.

RoboColum(n), The (2010). Articles>Writing>Diction


Beware of Adverbs

Beware of adverbs. They can dilute the meaning of the verb or repeat it.

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


Communicating in Spite of TLAs (Three-Letter Acronyms)   (PDF)

The unchecked use of acronyms and initialisms in technical writing presents a huge obstacle to clarity and readability. Although technical communicators are certainly more aware of this problem than are the engineers, scientists, and managers with whom they work, they need concrete guidelines and at least a small degree of self-righteousness on this subject to help them cope with the onslaught. That acronyms frustrate communication is well-founded in linguistic theory and common sense. Suggestions for mitigating their effect include issues of audience, term selectivity, frequency and occasion of use, and aesthetics.

Miller, Diane F. STC Proceedings (1995). Articles>Writing>Style Guides>Diction


Confusing Words

Confusing Words is a collection of words that are troublesome to readers and writers. Words are grouped according to the way they are most often confused or misused.

Confusing Words. Reference>Style Guides>Diction



The dictionaries that appear on Dictionary.com include: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition; Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary; The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing; Jargon File 4.2.0; CIA World Factbook (1995); Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary; Hitchcock's Bible Names Dictionary; U.S. Gazetteer; U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, through our site you can access definitions from: Acronym Finder; On-line Medical Dictionary; CancerWEB.

Dictionary.com. Reference>Dictionaries



A comprehensive online reference resource, with a dictionary, thesaurus, encyclopedia and word/phrase translation service.

Lexico Publishing Group, LLC (2007). Reference>Dictionaries


Don’t Leave Any Room for Doubt

I’m working on a little style guide for direct and concise technical writing. One pointer is to avoid the use of should or shouldn’t when what you really mean is do or don’t. Saying something like “shouldn’t” makes it sound optional. In other words, shouldn’t leaves a little room for doubt. Don’t, well, doesn’t.

Minson, Benjamin. Gryphon Mountain (2010). Articles>Documentation>Diction>Technical Writing


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


The Effect of Informative, Intriguing, and Generic Hyperlink Wording on Web Browsing Behavior   (PDF)

This paper presents a study of the effect of informative, intriguing, and generic hyperlink wording on Web browsing behavior. The study was administered via the Web using a modified naturally occurring informational Web site. Link wording was varied in both the navigation menu and links embedded in the text. Data about participants' browsing behavior were logged with PHP scripts, and demographics, perceptions, and comprehension were measured through a post-browsing survey. Data from the study are being analyzed and will be presented at the conference.

Evans, Mary B., Carolyn Wei, Matt Eliot, Jen Barrick, Brandon Maust, and Jan H. Spyridakis. STC Proceedings (2004). Articles>Web Design>Diction>Hypertext


Eliminate Phrases that Start With "in" from your Technical Documents

There are a number of filler phrases in English that start with “in.” You can improve the readability of your technical documents by eliminating such phrases and using much shorter equivalents.

Akinci, Ugur. Technical Communication Center (2010). Articles>Writing>Diction>Minimalism


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


Fighting the Non-Sexist Language Battle

Sexist language consists of various words and terms that foster stereotypes of social roles based on gender. Professional writers must keep abreast of significant changes in our language, and the issue of sexism is an integral change. Sexist language has become offensive. Sexist language is confusing.

Bourns, Tracy. Boston Broadside (1991). Articles>Writing>Diction>Gender


Figuring Out the Definition

How can a homograph be the same as a heterograph? And how can heterograph, which comes from roots meaning 'different writing,' be applied to a word that differs in every way except the way it is written?

Ivey, Keith C. Editorial Eye, The (1997). Articles>Language>Diction


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


It's Not Fowler

The debate over The New Fowler's Modern English Usage has the potential to become more interesting because there are personalities involved.

Boston, Bruce O. Editorial Eye, The (1997). Reference>Dictionaries


Keeping the Past Alive is Rewarding

Have you ever—even for just one second—paused to actually trace the origins of the words—any word—you use in your writing or speaking life? Try it. It’s fun, instructive, and interesting.

Sandeep, B. Indus (2009). Articles>Writing>Diction>History


Merriam-Webster Online

The Merriam-Webster language online site offers an up-to-date dictionary and thesaurus.

Merriam-Webster. Reference>Dictionaries


Obsessed with Possessives

We see it everywhere: our schools, our places of business, even in notes stuck on our refrigerator. Yes, my friends, I’m talking about apostrophe abuse. The Obama administration, faced with two wars and an economy teetering on the edge of disaster, is unlikely to make this a priority. So it’s our duty as professional communicators to stamp it out.

Wenger, Andrea. Carolina Communique (2009). Articles>Communication>Diction>Grammar


On Writing and Finding Words

Never underestimate the power of words, or their capacity to hide when you’re looking for them. Or for running out the door before you can catch them, for that matter.

Norris, Julie. 2moroDocs (2009). Articles>Writing>Diction


Play with Words

Play with words, even in serious stories. Choose words the average writer avoids but the average reader understands.

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


Prefer Simple to Technical

Prefer the simple to the technical: shorter words and paragraphs at the points of greatest complexity.

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



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