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What Stanford Says about Technical Papers

15th December 2011 Posted in Blog, Documentation, Technical Writers 0 Comments

Image for Stanford Technical Documents Post

When Stanford has something to say about technical writing, many of us eagerly listen.  This academic institution is continuously questioning how things are done and how they can be done better – offering us an opportunity to grow.  Even advice given back in 2006 as a discussion online can yield a wealth of tips for those interested in pursuing a career in technical writing, as well as for those interested in hiring a technical writer.

The Discussion Begins

Within the discussion at Stanford, a few parts of a technical writing document were discussed:

  • Paper Title
  • The Abstract
  • The Introduction
  • Related Work
  • The Body
  • Performance
  • Experiments
  • The Conclusions
  • Future Work
  • The Acknowledgements
  • Citations
  • Appendices
  • Grammar and Small-Scale Presentation Issues
  • Mechanics
  • Versions and Distribution

The discussion offered suggestions within each of these parts, with the intent to help students create a solid paper within the educational setting.  However, one thing stands out as potentially being useful for those who are interested in technical writing right now: Future Work.

You need to think about the future, even as you’re describing the present.  This allows the document to be fluid and malleable.  When a technical document is assumed to not change, that’s short-term thinking, and certainly going to cause long-term problems.  Instead, create a way for your technical writing document to introduce future ideas.  Not only will this allow you to show that you’re thinking ahead, but it will also allow you to have a direction to take when those changes become imperative.

Change is in the air, and technical writing documents should also look toward the future for new audiences that will be listening.

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