Technical terms are an essential part of all technical and
scientific writing. Each field and specialty typically uses a
vocabulary that relays a variety of specialized concepts by means
of technical language. These special terms convey concentrated
meanings that have been built up over significant periods of
study of a field. The value of a specialized set of terms lies
in the way each term condenses a mass of information into a
single word. Technical terminology is often thought of as a
shorthand, a way of gaining great depth and accuracy of meaning with economy of words. Technical terms often blend
readily into formulae and mathematical
manipulation, a term such as force being folded into a
formula such as f = ma. This quantification allows the
concept to be manipulated mathematically.
Technical terms can also lead to a great density of prose that is
difficult to understand, even for the specialized reader.
Observe these four principles when using specialized terminology:
- Match terminology to the ability of the audience. You may use a term with
great accuracy and still not reach your audience. It
is important that you be aware of your audience's level of understanding. If they
are not experts in your field, you
will need to substitute more general terms for your
specialized terms. That means that you may not be able
to write with great accuracy about your topic.
- Use terms with consistency. Be sure that you use the
same term for a given item each time. If you shift
from using mass to using weight in
referring to the quantity of an object, if at first you
call a tool a spanner and later call it a
wrench, or if you shift from the Kelvin scale
to Centigrade for measuring temperature, you may
confuse the reader.
- Provide clear definitions or explanations of unfamiliar
terms. If you are using a specialized term that is not
widely used in your audience, even if the audience is
an expert one, be sure you provide a clear definition
of your term.
- Use a terminology list when you are
introducing a variety of new terms into your
discussion. The use of a list, which is generally
placed before your introduction or
in an appendix, can greatly aid a
reader who wants to remind himself or herself of what
you mean by the term.
## Technical Terms ##
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