Technical English Simplified the Complex
Technical English Simplified the Complex

ASD-STE100, also known as Simplified Technical English (STE), is a specification for writing technical documentation in a simplified language that is easy to understand for a global audience. This can help improve safety, reduce errors, and increase efficiency in various industries where technical documentation plays a critical role. 

The specification provides guidelines to help ensure consistency and reduce the risk of misinterpretation. In this article, we will discover some examples of some of the key rules and guidelines:

  1. Use a limited vocabulary
  2. Use simple grammar
  3. Use clear and concise language
  4. Use standard terminology
  5. Avoid ambiguity
  6. Be consistent
  1. Simplified Technical English : Use a limited vocabulary

Use a controlled vocabulary of around 1,000 words. For example:

  • Use the same word for a concept throughout a document: Always use the word “connect” instead of “plug in” or “attach”.
  • Use simple words instead of complex technical terms: “turn off” instead of “deactivate”, “use” instead of “utilize”, “start” instead of “commence”.
  1. Use simple grammar

Use simple and consistent grammar with a focus on the active voice, short sentences (with an average length of 15 to 20 words) and avoiding complex structures.

Some examples:

  • Active voice: “The machine needs maintenance” instead of “Maintenance needs to be performed on the machine”; “The technician installed the software” instead of “The software was installed by the technician”.
  • Imperative sentences: “Press the button” instead of “The user should press the button”.
  1. Use clear and concise language

Write in clear and concise language that is easy to read and understand.

Some examples:

  • Avoid using complex jargon or technical terms: Use “power cord” instead of “AC power cable”.
  • Avoid idiomatic expressions: “To start this machine, you must provide the necessary funds to purchase the required lubricants”, instead of “To get this machine up and running, you’ll need to grease a few palms”. In this sentence, the idiomatic expression “grease a few palms” has been replaced with the more straightforward “provide the necessary funds to purchase the required lubricants”.
  1. Use standard terminology

Use standard technical terms and only approved synonyms or abbreviations.

Some examples:

  • Use standard terms and approved abbreviation: “microprocessor” instead of “CPU” or “central processing unit”, “software” instead of “program” or “app”.
  • Use standard units of measurement: “meters” instead of “feet”.
  • Use approved technical names to describe the parts and functions of a system or product. For example, use “throttle” to describe the device used to control the speed of an engine, rather than “speed control”.

  • Avoid ambiguity

Be clear and unambiguous in your writing, especially when describing technical procedures, instructions, or specifications.

Some examples:

  • Be clear and precise when describing procedures or instructions: “Insert the cable into the socket until it clicks” instead of “Insert the cable into the socket”.
  • Avoid ambiguity: For example, instead of saying “Press the button to turn it off,” say “Press the red button to turn off the device”.

  • Be consistent

Use consistent language and terminology throughout your document to help reduce confusion and ensure accuracy.

Some examples:

  • Use consistent language and terminology: “device” instead of “tool” or “instrument”, “power switch” instead of “on/off button” or “power button.”
  • Use numbered or bulleted lists: Use numbered or bulleted lists to break down procedures into easy-to-follow steps. This makes the information more digestible and easier to follow.

In summary, using Simplified Technical English can improve the clarity, safety, consistency, and compliance of technical writing, as well as save time and cost associated with translation. Overall, following STE guidelines can help manuals be more accessible and easier to understand, which can lead to better usability and user experience.

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