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The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 1.2.2

Implicit Purposes

Keep your implicit goals in mind when writing a document. In addition to explicit goals, writers almost always write with other unstated but still extremely important implicit goals. Common goals are to establish a relationship, to create trust and establish credibility, and to document actions.

To Establish a Relationship

Communication not only conveys information but also establishes a relationship between speaker and listener, or writer and reader. A well-written letter of inquiry, for example, can begin a professional connection that may last for years. Readers of research reports often initiate long and fruitful correspondences with the authors.

Even seemingly impersonal documentation and instructions can, if written carefully to addressing a user's need, establish a positive relationship between the user and the producer of the product.

To Create Trust and Establish Credibility

An underlying goal of all technical and scientific writing is to get the reader to trust the writer's credibility. Scientific and technical writing is based on precision. Accordingly, any technical or scientific document should justify the reader's confidence in the accuracy of its content, style, and organization.

Carefully qualify statements that need to be qualified. Do not make claims that are merely suppositions. If your reader begins to doubt your ability or intent to analyze and shape data with a minimum of distortion, the document will no longer be effective.

To Document Actions

Scientists, engineers, and managers often use writing to create permanent records of their thoughts and actions. One of the primary differences between most forms of written and spoken communication is that writing can be fairly permanent, whereas speech vanishes as soon as it is produced. Consequently, technical communication is often more effective when it is written down. Make important observations, suggestions, or objections in writing. Similarly, communicate important tasks and deadlines in documents such as project plans. Keeping precise records of experiments and procedures in notebooks is crucial to a project's overall accuracy and to establishing intellectual-property rights.

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