Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Beer, David F. A guide to writing as an engineer / David Beer, Department of Electrical and Computer. Get Instant Access to A Guide To Writing As An Engineer By David Beer #b16e7d EBOOK EPUB. site PDF. Read Download Online A. The fourth edition of A Guide to Writing as an Engineer updates Beer and McMurrey's popular book on communication and technical writing for engineers. Used predominantly in freshmen engineering survey courses, the text is also applicable for specific courses on engineering writing.

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Everyone knows that engineers must be good at math, but many students fail to realize just how much writing engineering involves: reports, memos. Request PDF on ResearchGate | On Jan 1, , D.F. Beer and others published A Guide to Writing as an Engineer. A guide to writing as an engineer / by David Beer and David is not intended as a straitjacket, but as a focal point to enable writers in the pro-.

Dithering is the process of intentionally applying noise to create the illusion of color depth and natural-looking variation in computer-generated images. Causes and effects or reasons ; problems and solutions; questions and answers: It helps to discuss these pairs of information types.

Here are some examples: High levels of noise can block and distort the meaning of a message in communica- tions. Thermal noise can be reduced by reducing the temperature of the circuit.

Discussing the categories of a topic can help readers gain a broader understanding of the topic. In-other-words explanations: European robins living in urban environments are more likely to sing at night in places with high levels of noise pollution during the day. Readers can also gain better understanding simply by being able to visualize some aspect of a topic. At the north of the sound tube, a massive sculptural work was placed consisting of a giant yellow beam hanging diagonally across the road and a row of smaller red beams alongside the road.

Process explanation: Going carefully, methodically, step by step through an essen- tial process can also help readers understand. In communication theory, the sender is the encoder, and the receiver is Researchers at Virginia Tech have the decoder.

For details, see the Preface for aHistory: For some readers, it helps to the URL. After the passage of the U. Noise Control Act of , the program was abandoned at the federal level, under President Ronald Reagan, in Hierarchical Headings Hierarchical headings enable us to look at the pages of a document and get a sense of its organization and contents.

Headings and subheadings act as signposts that help readers get through a document without getting lost. Use boldface to make the heading stand out and separate it from the written material above and below it by at least one line space.

Third-level headings. Place third-level headings on the same line as the text they precede.

Capitalize them as a sentence would be; use boldface or italics. Notice that all three levels of headings use a sans serif font Arial in this case while body text uses a serif font Times New Roman in this case. Numbered Headings. Some companies and suppliers require numbered or decimal headings. A number system makes it easier to cross-reference other parts of a long report. When you use headings, watch out for these issues: Phrase headings so that they indicate the topic of the section they introduce.

As for frequency of headings, try for two to three headings per page, as this book demonstrates. Subordinate headings. Make sure that headings within the same section and at the same level are parallel in phrasing.


To see headings in action, browse the examples in Chapters 5 and 6. Styles make formatting your report much easier. For the web address, see the Preface. In some cases, readers retrieve information from lists more easily than from regular paragraphs. Next, set up the op-amp as shown in Figure 1. Use a 1 Vpp sine wave at 1 kHz and then plot the output waveform on the HP digital scope.

Then obtain a Bode plot for the gain from Hz to 20 KHz. Set up the op-amp as shown in Figure 1. Use a 1Vpp sine wave at 1 kHz. Plot the output waveform on the HP digital scope. Obtain a Bode plot for the gain from Hz to 20 kHz. Use a numbered list for items in a required order. Numbered lists can also be used to indicate an order of importance in your data, such as a list of priorities or needed equipment.

To set up the computer: Connect the monitor to the computer through the monitor port. Connect the keyboard and mouse to the computer through the ASF port. Connect the power supply to the computer. Connect the printer to the printer port. Connect the modem to the modem port.

Use checklists to indicate that all the items in your list must be tended to, usually in the order presented: Make Your Ideas Accessible 51 3. When any list gets longer than ten items, try to break them down into smaller, more manageable sections and give each section its own subheading or lead-in. Use a bulleted list when the items are in no required order: Some of the main concerns of environmental engineering are: Avoid lengthy bulleted lists—over seven items.

When list items themselves are lengthy, get some vertical space between them. If you have sublist items in a required order, use lowercase letters. If the sublist items are in no required order, use a less prominent symbol for example, a clear disc or an en dash. Make sure all lists begin with a lead-in, as the examples here illustrate. Punctuate a lead-in with a colon if it is grammatically complete: Punctuate list items with a period if they are complete sentences or contain embedded dependent clauses.

Be consistent with how you capitalize list items that are not complete sentences. Make list items parallel in phrasing. For example, if some entries begin with a verb, all entries should do so; if all begin with a noun, all should. This makes for smoother reading and logical neatness. Note how the following list is bumpy due to problems with parallelism: Lack of parallel phrasing: Last week we accomplished the following for WW3-a: Note See the chapter in the website companion corresponding to this one for steps on creating and formatting the different kinds of lists for your reports.

A busy manager, for example, will want to scan your information as quickly as possible. When your readers are trying to follow demanding technical information, they are already challenged, and presenting it to them in solid page-long chunks is discouraging.

When editing your work, look for any overly long paragraphs and try splitting them—for example, at a change of topic or type of writing from concepts to examples. When you split paragraphs, remember that you may have to add a transitional word or phrase. With so much writing in industry, costs mount up. A little training in being concise and in sharpening your writing and editing skills can save time and money—plus much time-consuming work for your readers.

Inflated Words and Wordiness Choose the simplest and plainest word whenever you can.

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Unkind editors sometimes refer to this as verbiage by analogy to garbage? Similarly, your reader is unlikely to thank you for having to plow through when you could have simply said you recommend downloading a new computer. I do not know. It is our considered recommendation that a new computer should be downloadd. We recommend the download of a new computer. You can eliminate a lot of wordiness in your writing by training yourself to edit carefully and to make every word count.

It is essential that the lens be cleaned at frequent intervals on a regular basis as is delineated in Ops Procedure c. Clean the lens frequently and regularly see Ops Procedure c. The location of the experimental robotics laboratory is in room A. The experimental robotics lab is in A. There are several EC countries that are now trying to upgrade the communication skills of their engineers. Several EC countries are trying to upgrade the communication skills of their engineers.

A good stylebook will give numerous examples, but here are a few that crop up frequently in engineering writing: Redundancy Redundancy refers to the use of words that say the same thing, like basic fundamentals, or phrases that duplicate what has already been said, as in They decided to reconstruct a hypothetical test situation that does not exist.

In fact, if you master the art of redundancy, you can make everything you write almost twice as long as need be. The company may not be awarded the contract because it lacks production facilities. What does the preceding revision leave out other than unnecessary words? Here is a matrix of such possibilities: The engineer wrote the report.

The passive voice turns it around: The report was written by the engineer. Thus the active voice emphasizes the performer of the action—the engineer, in our example—while the passive emphasizes the recipient of the action, the report. They might write It was ascertained that.

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Perhaps such hedging is necessary at times since it helps conceal responsibility and gives us no one to blame! The passive voice is certainly appropriate when writing up your research or describing a process, for example. Good uses of the passive voice: Electricity was discovered thousands of years ago. The bridge was torn down in The contaminated material is then taken to a safe environment. Sometimes the passive will give variety to your writing, even if your inclination is to write predominantly in the active voice.

Effective use of the passive voice for variety and continuity: Computer experts claim that general-purpose processors have unpredictable execution times due to their use of complex architectural features. This claim has now been tested by our group and we have found that the architecture really induces little or no unpredictability. Moreover, data gained from our study show how the execution times can be predicted.

It was also found that. Passive-voice problem: A system for delineating these factors is shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5 shows a system for delineating these factors. By switching off the motor when it started to vibrate and looking at the tachometer, the resonant frequency was determined. We determined the resonant frequency by switching off the motor when it started to vibrate and looking at the tachometer. The passive can become especially problematic in procedures or instructions: The button is pressed twice. Press the button twice.

Previously entered data in the database is eliminated by the Edit menu being opened and Select All being chosen. Eliminate previously entered data in the database by opening the Edit menu and choosing Select All. Nowadays engineering writers are getting away from the rigid use of the pas- sive.

Pedestrian power By showing that a person is involved in A UK company called Pavegen has the work, you are doing no more than developed tiles that harvest kinetic admitting reality. Also, the active voice energy from pedestrians walking gives credit where credit is due. If we on them. Camouflaged Subjects and Verbs Wordy, awkward, unclear writing occurs when the true subject—or actor—of the sentence is not expressed in the grammatical subject: Complaints by employees about the food served in the company cafeteria have been frequent.

Employees have frequently complained about the food served in the company cafeteria. The invention of writing toward the end of the fourth millennium BCE is credited to the Sumerians. Sumerians are credited with the invention of writing toward the end of the fourth millennium BCE. An analysis of the data will be made when all the results are in. We will analyze the data when all the results are in.

The same problem can occur when the main action of the sentence is not expressed in the grammatical verb: Employees have frequently made complaints about the food served in the company cafeteria. The Sumerians, who lived in southern Mesopotamia now roughly the lower half of Iraq , created word writing about BCE. An investigation of all possible sources of noise was undertaken.

All possible noise sources were investigated. Acknowledgment of all incoming messages is performed by the protocol handler. The protocol handler acknowledges all incoming messages. Notice the problem version has three expletives!

Weak expletive: It is the results of studies of the central region of the M87 galaxy that have shown that there are stars near the center that move around as though there were some huge mass at the center attracting them.

Results of studies of the central region of the M87 galaxy show that stars near the center move around as though some huge mass at the center were attracting them. Mind-Numbing Noun Stacks Another problem, particularly in the technical world, involves jamming three or more nouns together into a phrase, which is called a noun stack. Noun stack: Install a hazardous materials dispersion monitor system. Install a system for monitoring the dispersal of hazardous materials. True, the revisions have more words but are more understandable.

This problem is known as a faulty predication. Faulty predication: The causes of the disappearance of the early electric automobiles were devastating to the future of energy conservation in the United States. The disappearance of the early electric automobiles was devastating to the future of energy conservation in the United States.

People prefer print that is visually accessible and pleasing. You can easily prevent formatting noise by keeping the following pointers in mind.

Margins Here are some specs for the margins of you document: Standard margins are 1 inch all around your page. If your report is important enough to be bound like a book, use a wider-than-usual left margin to accommodate the binding and to ensure that the right edge of your text is readable.

Typography Typeface is the style of individual letters and characters. Serif fonts have small strokes or stems on the edges of each letter, which help guide the eye from letter to letter.

Sans serif fonts do not. Express Yourself Clearly 61 Here are some specs for the style of type to use in your documents: Use a serif font for example, Times New Roman for body text, which is traditionally used by books, magazines, and newspapers.

Sans serif fonts for example, Arial are traditionally used for titles and headings. They are also preferred for online text.

Documents traditionally use one font for titles, headings, labels, and captions and another font for body text. You will rarely see a third font in all but the most complex documents. Sans serif: The electric car prototype has regenerative braking, which recharges the supply while decelerating the vehicle.

Standard type size for body text is 10 to 12 point. Use larger type sizes for titles and headings. However, you will rarely see much variation in font size for body text. Regular paragraphs, bulleted and numbered lists, and notices all use the same type size. Use all-caps words for important labels, however: The government plans to establish a high-level administrative council to coor- dinate science and technology.

Good use of capital letters: A V potential exists across the transformer output terminals. Therefore, engineering writing should be as precise as possible as well. If your readers yearn for suspense, they can read a detective story, and if they enjoy different connotations and levels of meaning, they can read poetry. Ambiguity, Vagueness, and Directness The following sections discuss how the meaning of a sentence can be distorted, blurred, or buried in words.

The word ambiguous comes from a Latin word meaning to be undecided. Ambiguity primarily results from permitting words like they and it to point to more than one possible referent in a sentence, or from using short descriptive phrases that could refer to two or more parts of a sentence. Consider these following examples. Before accepting materials from the new subcontractors, we should make sure they meet our requirements.

What or who——the materials or subcontractors?

Before we accept them, we should make sure the materials from the new subcontractors meet our requirements. The microprocessor interfaced directly with the RAM chip. It runs at 5 MHz. The runs at 5 MHz. Our records now include all development reports for B engines received from JPL. What was received from JPL——the reports or the engines?

Our records now include all B engine development reports received from JPL.

Did the company or the chip test out at the high temperatures? If ambiguity involves more than one meaning, vagueness involves no use- ful meaning at all. Vagueness is also caused by abstract words—they are not precise.

Here are two more examples of vague writing: Express Yourself Clearly 63 Vague: The Robotics group is several weeks behind schedule. The Robotics group is six weeks behind schedule. The CF runs faster than the RG but is much more expensive. As you can see, vague writing may require fewer words, but at the expense of precision. During the report period that encompasses the organized phase, considerable progress has been made in certain necessary preliminary work directed toward the establishment of initial activities.

Being as direct as possible in your writing lets your reader grasp your point quickly. A busy technical reader wants access to your information quickly and easily. The most important part of your message should come at the beginning of your sentences and paragraphs—unless for the sake of coherence you need to use the old-to-new pattern discussed in the next section: The infrared controller will be ready for production March 4. Its development cycle was slowed by the factory renovation.

Fred has been busily working on this project.

This past week he also reworked the logic diagrams, rewired the controller arm, and redesigned all of the RIST circuitry. He also reworked the logic diagrams and rewired the controller arm last week. Do this kind of review at the level of a whole paragraph and a whole group of paragraphs: See Chapter 2 for more on transitions. To do so, mentally label each paragraph or paragraph group with one or two identifying words. Too many paragraph breaks can have a fragmented and distracting effect.

The root of the word coherence is cohere, meaning to stick together, and a cohesive group of sentences does just that. In a coherent paragraph, all the sentences clearly belong where they are because they address only the topic of the paragraph and are logically connected to one another.

In a complete report, coherence means how well the report takes the reader through its pages by means of transitional devices and how everything focuses on the subject of the report. Transitional techniques help connect ideas, distinguish conditions or exceptions, or point out new directions of thought. Simple words like therefore, thus, similarly, and unfortunately eliminate ambiguity by helping a reader interpret your information. Neglecting these techniques means creating noise.

Consider the problem sentence below. Both sentences in the problem version are grammatically correct and contain important facts, but how are these facts related? Now notice how the three attempted revisions guess at that relationship which the problem version does not indicate: The completion date for the project is as originally planned. Nevertheless, the completion date for the project is as originally planned. Unfortunately, the completion date for the project is as originally planned.

You can prevent readers from having to guess at connections and achieve coherence by using several techniques: These last two points may seem contradictory. In the revised version of this example, a continuous topic string is used; each sentence makes a statement about the H CRT: Portable display devices that run on batteries, where lower power consumption is necessary, are not suit- able for the H. We should consider other options before committing to download the H.

Thus, the H is poorly suited for portable display devices that run on batteries, where lower power consumption is necessary. Because of this drawback, we should consider other options before committing to download the H. In the original version, notice how the second and following sentences begin with new words, causing us to have to wait to see the connection to the previous sentence. Effective Coherence with a Shifting Topic String The most important part of a solar heating system is the solar collector whose main function is to heat water to be used in space heating.

There are various types of collectors. These layers of glass or plastic have an intervening air space that produces the heat-trapping effect.

Water is heated as it circulates through or below the absorber component, which is heated by solar radiation. Often a memo is hastily churned out, or a report is rapidly thrown together and tacked on the tail end of a project. As with anything done in a hurry, the results are usually not the best. As the pressure to get a piece of writing out increases, sloppiness—that is, noise—also increases.

Rather than leaving your writing to the last minute, consider it just as much a part of your professional activities as designing, building, and testing.

Get to work earlier, or take work home plenty of successful engineers do. Use breaks to concentrate on your writing tasks. Assign brief chunks of time for short memos and letters or for small sections of a report. Designate larger chunks of time to concentrate on longer writing tasks. Even if you do not have a deadline for completing a document, establish one.

Estimate how long you expect the job to take and schedule back from there. Always allow yourself enough time at the end to review and edit the entire document. Make sure you have all your important tasks and due dates down, however, and then do everything you can to keep to them.

First, check your document for technical accuracy. Are headings, subheadings, lists, and graphics used effectively and consistently? Are the parts of the document arranged correctly? Level 2 In your second pass, check for paragraph and sentence length and structure, wordiness, and word choice.

Is the tone of your document appropriate? Have you used the active voice where possible? How about transitions, parallelism, and emphasis where called for? Level 3 In your third pass, you check for the nitty-gritty problems like mechanics, spelling, punctuation, typos. You might also call upon the services of a friend or colleague who is well grounded in these basics.

Is consin-Madison are developing a it the right length? Are like that caused by normal human headings, subheadings, lists, and graph- respiration to generate electricity.

Is For details, see the Preface for the title page attractive? How about the the URL. Technical people work together as teams for research, design, development, and testing. Write as a Team 69 not always easy, especially when people with different degrees of writing ability or ego investment are involved, or when team members are torn between team responsibilities and other duties.

If your group plans the team project carefully, however, it can be a great experience since as a team you will be tapping into far more knowledge, skill, and creativity than you can bring to a project alone.

Five Positive Approaches When you work on a team project or help put together a long written document with others, be prepared to do the following: Some people even view collaboration and compromise negatively rather than positively in the context of team activities. Obviously, very little teamwork is possible without frank and open communication. Members of the team must create an atmosphere that enables free discussion at all times.

Channels of communication email, telephone numbers, mail addresses, and meeting times and places must all be open. Since team members are not often physically working together, everyone must know what the others are doing, who is responsible for what, when the next deadline or meeting is, as well as other tactical details.

Often one member of a team is appointed as the coordinator, and if that person does the job well, a minimum of frustration, repetition, or uncertainty will occur. In the spirit of collaboration, for instance, assist a partner who is overloaded and needs help. Cooperation is essential to the smooth working of any team project. If the project has a designated leader, do all you can to cooperate with that person and to accept his or her decisions, deadlines, changes, or reassignments.

If such executive actions by the team leader cannot be the result of open discussion, cheerfully accept a decision you have no control over. This word has two meanings, and only one of them is somewhat derogatory. The other meaning refers to making mutual concessions in order to reach a goal. In practical teamwork, this means you may sometimes have to give a bit on something because doing so will help the team reach its objective. As much as possible, compromise should be the outcome of open and friendly communication.

Practical Team Writing Here are two practical ways your team can produce a successful written document: Divide the length of the assignment by the number of people involved and get each to write his or her share. Individuals will do any research needed for their own section and should write and edit it.

Individuals bring their personal writing style, vocabulary, quirks, and weaknesses to their part; their material may overlap with other parts of the report; transitions between sections will likely be absent. Your team will need a project manager to push things along and settle disputes. However, the good thing about this strategy is that everybody gets to write.

Ideally, this person is good at writing, enjoys writing—and has read this book. The unfortunate thing about this strategy is that not everyone gets to write—which might be okay in industry but not in an engineering writing course.

For both strategies, other specializations are likely to be needed: What kinds of audiences were involved? Look inside the back cover of an IEEE or other technical journal for advice for authors who wish to publish in that journal. Find a government or industry report on a subject that interests you.

Who is the assumed audience? How does the report get to the point right away—if it does? How useful are the headings and subheadings? How do divisions and paragraph length add to the accessibility of the information? Could any of the information be better presented in list form?

Do you notice any ambiguity, wordiness, unnecessary technical jargon, and nouns that could be turned into verbs? Look back on any solo writing project you have done. How long did it take you? Were you working under a deadline? How much time each day did you spend planning, writing, and editing? How could you have done the project better?

Look back on any team writing projects you have been involved in. How were tasks or sections delegated? What factors would have enabled you to do an even better job? Brusaw, and Walter E. Larson, Kevin. Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications. Microsoft Corporation, Miller, G. In The Psychology of Communication. Basic Books, Nadziejka, David E. Proceedings of the International Professional Communication Conference, pp.

Reep, Diana C. Technical Writing: Principles, Strategies, and Reading. Pearson Longman, For managers, e-mail tasks usurp closer to two hours each day. David Lloyd George, — As a professional engineer, you need to get familiar with the style, format, and orga- nization of business communications. This chapter explores strategies for deciding which medium of communication to use and then moves on to discuss format, style, and organization of business letters, memoranda, and email.

The chapter concludes with writing-style issues that apply to any of the media described here. Working professionals have at their disposal a variety of communication media.

If you have a question for someone in your building, run down the hall and ask in person. If you want to build your reputation or that of your organization and if you want to join into ongoing discussions in the engineering community, use social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, forums, and Twitter. Phone, Text Message, or Paper? The decision whether to use telephone or face-to-face communication as opposed to written communication is fairly obvious.

A Guide to Writing as an Engineer, 5th Edition

In telephone or face-to-face communication, these are the issues: This usually contains a description on how you carried out your research or the methods you use to gather the information. The material and methods This similar to the procedure but this is usually used in scientific or engineering report writing. This is where you list the materials you used in the experiment and the methods or procedure of the experiment.

The summary This is the brief description of your whole report or an overview of the report. The introduction This where your write how you fully understood your report and how you are going to discuss the topics in your report. You may also see marketing report examples 9. The body This the main section of your report. Eur" pdf, doc the field of mechanical fresher is cover letter for medical job how to write a engineers letter for merchandising job a highly respectable one.

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