A Guide to Writing as an Engineer, 4th Edition - Notes

by: Artur Dziedziczak

November 24, 2023


Notes were gathered while reading "A Guide to Writing as an Engineer, 4th Edition" [1]

Working on drafts

It’s important to know that even the most famous authors' works are started with drafts. Such drafts consist of scribbling, additions, deletions and rewordings. You should never expect to produce a masterpiece of writing on your first try

Always review what you wrote and try to improve it before sending it to its readers.

Types of noise

Writing is like a transmission. In communication theory, the sender is the encoder and the receiver is the decoder

When you write you need to be aware of noise build up in the transmission you want to make. Primarily you should be concerned of

  • syntactic (grammar)
  • semantic (word meanings)
  • organizational

The good news is most of the noise can be eliminated. Whenever you write keep signal-to-noise ratio high

Avoid sexist language

An employee can expect a lot of challenges during his career here

Can be fixed with they

Employees can expect a lot of challenges during their careers here

Sentence length

You should rarely write sentences over 20 words long

Focus on why you are writing

Before starting to write, have a good idea of the audience of your work

Usually technical writing is either to present information or to persuade people to act or think in a certain way

Ask yourself if you want to:

  • Inform
  • Request
  • Instruct
  • Purpose - suggest a plan of action
  • Recommend
  • Persuade
  • Record - a document for the record of how something was researched.

Difference between fact and opinion

Fact is a dependable statement about external reality that can be verified by others

Opinion express feeling or impression that may not be readily verifiable by others

Explaining technical things to non-technical people

  • Definitions - use definitions that you explain
  • Examples - try to use examples when definitions are hard
  • Importance
  • Uses of applications
  • Use categories - explain categories to broader understanding of the topic.
  • Process explanation - try to explain the process to help others understand.
  • Share historical knowledge

Usage of lists

Use ordered lists when items need to have a required order

When lists are longer than 10 items split them into smaller lists


Whenever you write try to divide your work into 4 levels:

  1. First pass through rough draft. Check overall content, organization and accuracy of the content. Make sure that headings, images, and captions make sense.
  2. Check paragraph and sentence length and structure. Check word choice. Here you can also modify the overal tone of the document.
  3. Check spelling, punctuation and typos. Use tools that will suggest grammar improvements.
  4. Focus on the overall appearance of the whole document.


[1] A Guide to Writing as an Engineer, 4th Edition.