Not just a standard for maintenance documentation only
On 25 January 2017, Issue 7 of the ASD-STE100 was renamed ‘International specification for the preparation of
maintenance technical documentation in a controlled language’. Now, given the success and adaptability of Simplified Technical English (STE) across industries, this long overdue name change is a very much welcomed move. Indeed, STE writing principles are very valid for all technical documentation purposes.
On 20 and 21 February 2017 Shufrans TechDocs & FOXIZ became the first companies worldwide to jointly offer a certified ASD-STE100 training workshop using Issue 7.
Naturally, a cake celebration was called for after writers worked so very hard on their STE rewriting assignments. 2017 coincides with my 11th year of using the ASD-STE100 Specification, although I had hoped for an earlier release date in 2016 to mark a decade of my technical writing career 😉
Followed this course last February and truly learned a lot. Shumin is very experienced and really knows what she is talking / teaching about. Recommended for all manual writers!
– Hans Harlé, Entecst Technical Communication
20% fewer rules in Issue 7!
Here are some of my observations: Seemingly overlapping writing rules were either removed or combined with others. The results? A 20% decrease in the number of writing rules from 65 to 53. Before you get the wrong idea, the message of STE did not change, it only crystallised. What transpired during those four years since the older issue in 2013 was a major overhaul where rules were succinctly rephrased and cleverly reorganised
Every rule now includes a comprehensive description and explanation. Sentence examples were revised to facilitate a more progressive and concise understanding, coupled with an accurate use of this technical English writing standard.
A reduced learning curve
As a controlled language, STE writing rules and its core vocabulary (or general dictionary) of words work hand in hand to facilitate your authoring process. While the rules regulate the words and which parts of speech you can use, the dictionary provides you with a generous resource of technical words. This core vocabulary of around 930 approved words lets you write just about everything that you need for technical documentation, even for procedural information in general. However, this isn’t quite the end of my story yet.
Every dictionary entry is marked either as an approved or non-approved term. In the case of a non-approved word, one or more possible synonyms are provided to help the writer transition from Standard English to Simplified English. Approved synonyms and associated sentence examples will provide him with the ideas that will be difficult to think of all by himself. The revised layout and formatting in Issue 7 also makes it a lot easier to locate keywords and identify relevant examples speedily.
In recent versions of the ASD-STE100 specification issues 5, 6, and 7, we find that between 95 to 99% of the words in the STE general dictionary can be easily adapted even for technology companies, like the technical aspects of data protection solutions. And the concept of the STE specification is such that you can very easily adapt the specification to suit and cover your specific needs. It mainly entails additions to the dictionary which are customarily made, even for aerospace customers.
Enslaved to only 1,000 words or less? No way!
STE encompasses three main categories of words that technical writers can avail themselves of:
- Approved words from the general dictionary
- Technical names
- Technical verbs.
Technical names and verbs are word categories where organisations and writers can enjoy a considerable degree of autonomy using STE guidelines for customer-specific terms, most of them are known as technical names. Technical names are mainly nouns that you need in order to write meaningful content about your specific product or services. They are not included in the dictionary because terminology differs from one industry to the other. To manage this unpredictability, STE provides lists of 19 categories for nouns (Rule 1.5 of Issue 7), and four categories for verbs (Rule 1.12 of Issue 7). I am happy to report that the STE Maintenance Group has since reviewed and enriched those lists in Issue 7. You will not do away with most of your product-specific terminology. However, STE principles will help you regulate and filter it. I strongly encourage technical communicator in any field to hold onto this specification as a highly valuable resource!
About the trainer
Since 2006, Ms Shumin Chen has been working as a consultant with customers in various industries worldwide: aerospace and defence, banking, consumer products, healthcare, IT, medical and fitness equipment. She has helped many companies with their documentation needs, based on standards where possible, and is widely regarded as a leading expert in ASD-STE100 Simplified Technical English training, aviation documentation, and multilingual documentation.
Ms Chen now heads the ASD-STE100 training arm of Shufrans TechDocs. In her current role, Ms Chen continues to focus on the practical implementation of international standards to facilitate the efficient creation and management of multilingual documentation.
Copyright © 2017 Shufrans TechDocs. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means whatsoever without express written permission from the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Are you ready to make STE your strategic partner?
Attend a 2-day certified ASD-STE100 workshop at any of our worldwide locations
Dates: 19 – 20 April 2017
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Length of training: 2 days
Fee: 1,850 NZD
Early bird registration: Before 28 March 2017
Sign up early to enjoy a 20% training discount
Deadline for registration: 10 April 2017
Simplified Technical English (STE) stresses on the use of unambiguous terminology where one word only has one meaning. This reduces the likelihood of using synonymous terms that can result in confusion. Optimum re-usability of technical terms on the word, phrase, and sentence levels is to be expected. This will greatly improve any product life-cycle management process.
Technical documentation that is written in STE becomes easier for non-native speakers of the English language to understand. The resulting text is much easier to translate which is especially relevant when machine translation is part of your localization strategy. Preparing your technical content with ASD-STE100 ensures quality at the source and prepares you for future-proof translation processes.
Said Ms Shumin Chen, principal ASD-STE100 trainer: “The benefits of implementing and writing in Simplified Technical English (STE) are manifold – audience engagement through high-quality content, improved product safety, lower life cycle cost and reduced logistics footprint!”
“The ASD-STE100 course I attended by Shumin was very intensive yet enjoyable. Besides the standard format and company templates used when creating documentation, STE rules helped me understand that there is an alternative approach to technical writing. Top Qualities: Effective, versatile, high-quality training delivery.” Manufacturing Engineer, FNSS Defence Systems
- Practical overview of ASD-STE100 Simplified Technical English
- How STE helps both native & non-native speakers of English
- Writing rules and how to apply them in practice
- How to use the general vocabulary
- How to deal with industry-specific terminology
- How to use STE for various documentation types
- How to implement STE with minimal disruption to on-going production and existing documentation
- Hands-on STE editing and review
Who should attend?
- Compliance managers
- CIO, COO, CTO
- Customer support managers
- Documentation managers
- Engineering managers
- Engineers and SMEs who create documentation
- ILS managers
- Maintenance managers
- MRO personnel
- Operation managers
- Product managers
- Project managers
- Quality managers
- Technical writers
- Translation managers
What training outcomes to expect?
Ms. Shumin Chen will teach participants how to correctly and effectively use STE in practice. She will also address some of the mistakes commonly found in technical writing and the frequently incorrect use of common STE writing rules.
Our interactive training, exercises and workshop let participants standardise content to:
- Author more efficiently
- Communicate more effectively with a global audience
- Improve operational safety
- Reduce AOG / downtime
- Facilitate modular writing and reuse
- Facilitate teamwork
- Facilitate translation
- Maximise consistency
- Optimise product lifecycle support
- Reduce the cost of creating and maintaining technical publications
Ms. Shumin Chen, principal trainer & consultant at Shufrans TechDocs received her professional on-the-job training in the field of STE under the tutelage of Dr Frans Wijma, a linguist and documentation expert. Together as an experienced global team, they provided their combined knowledge and dedication to benefit customers worldwide. To date, they have provided training and consultancy services to over 180 companies. Shufrans TechDocs is the only company with such vast experience in providing certified STE training.
Shumin has supported various companies with their STE and other documentation needs, based on standards where possible. Although STE was developed for the aerospace industry, more specifically for aircraft maintenance documentation, Shumin found that it made a lot of sense to apply the same principles to other industries and types of documents as well. Few -if any- changes to the specification are necessary to adapt STE to industries ranging from machinery to IT, automotive to medical equipment.
* Shufrans also offers customised ASD-STE100 training solutions tailored to meet your specific requirements. These courses are normally provided at the customer’s premises.