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The Use of English

Chapter V
The Importance of English

A successful engineer must be something more than a skilled

mechanic, an artisan, or a designer. He must not only be able to
make surveys and prepare plans and designs, but he must also be
able to make reports to his clients or superiors, prepare
instructions for his assistants and subordinates, write
specifications, prepare agreements, both as basis for receiving
bids and for making contracts. He must originate, lay out, and
supervise or carry out contract works, and supervise the
maintenance and operation of industrial plants.
Engineering English

Engineering English should and does differ from English of

literature. Fine writing and picturesque language have little place
in the writings of the engineer. The language should always be
clear, definite, and exact; it should often be brief, technical, and
to the point.
In general, letters, reports, and papers may
be written for:

Nontechnical readers
Technical readers more or less acquainted with engineering
matter but not particularly versed in special subject treated
Supervisors and assistants, those specially acquainted with the
subject matter treated
Contracts and specifications
The Hearer or Reader

The knowledge and

capacity of those to whom
written or spoken
language is addressed is an
important element to be
considered in the
preparation of articles,
reports, or addresses.
Knowledge of Subject

The absolute prerequisite for

clear and accurate technical
writing is a clear and accurate
knowledge of the subject
which is to be discussed or
Logical Arrangement

While a clear statement of facts

or requirements is essential to
convey the ideas and meaning
desired, when the matter
discussed requires considerable
space for its full consideration,
the logical arrangement of the
material becomes hardly less
The Outline

The general idea of the

construction of the outline,
which should precede the
writing of any extended
technical paper, can be readily
acquired by the examination of
the table of contents of any
well-written technical book or
by the study of any well-
prepared specifications.

Technical men commonly

posses an unwholesome
disrespect for literary
The Choice of Words

In the writing of any technical

report or paper the purpose of
which is to precisely describe
some engineering situation, it
is important that the words
which are used properly
convey the intended meaning
from the writer to the reader.
Thank you for listening!

The end.