Book Review - Spring Into Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists by Barry J. Rosenberg
I wish I had this book available to me about three years sooner... Spring Into Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists by Barry J. Rosenberg. I'd be much further ahead in my writing skills, that's for sure...
Section 1 - Planning to Write: The Quest; Audience; Documentation Plans
Section 2 - Writing - General Principles: Words; Sentences; Paragraphs and Sections; Lists; Tables; Graphics; Professional Secrets
Section 3 - Writing - Specific Kinds of Documents: Manuals; Web Sites; Proposals; Internal Planning Documents; Lab Reports; PowerPoint Presentations; E-Mail
Section 4 - Editing and Producing Documents: Editing and the Documentation Process; Fonts and Typography; Punctuation; Glossary; Bibliography; Index
The Spring Into series is designed to cover topics in one to three page chunks, short enough to quickly allow the busy professional to get what they need to know. Rosenberg does an excellent job in this book of taking a subject that many people dread or outright hate and making it palatable and doable. He doesn't target the professional writer or English teacher who needs to know about dangling particles and such. This is just down to earth, practical advice. I think that many people will get the most out of section 3 which goes into specific writing situations (reports, email, etc.). Since that's where many people in the business world live, the example-driven nature of those chapters will pay back the time investment of the reader in short order.
As someone who enjoys writing and has worked on it over the last couple of years, there was quite a bit that I already knew when I read the material. The problem is that I had to pick it all up by experience. This book would have saved me an immense amount of time in getting better (as well as saving my readers the pain of having to watch me grow). Still, there's a lot here that I either didn't understand or have to be reminded of constantly. Take active vs. passive voice... I *still* can't get rid of that habit... :-)
If I were the manager of a group of techies who need to use the written word to communicate to users and clients, I'd spend the money to get them all a copy of this book. The techies may not thank you directly, but their customers sure will... :-)