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The common denominator for credible & concise documentation across industries

The common denominator for credible & concise documentation across industries

TCLoc Master article on The common denominator for credible & concise documentation across industries by Ms. Shumin Chen, Principal ASD-STE100 Trainer & Consultant.

First published on TCLoc Master Blog • University of Strasbourg • 4 December 2017

Safety, efficiency, and readability are the main considerations for the use of ASD-STE100 Simplified Technical English (STE) in the aerospace and defense industries. For many other industries, such as machinery, automotive, electronics, IT, and medical equipment, another important consideration is to save on translation costs without compromising on translation quality. As technical communicators, navigating the tricky terrains of cost, quality, and efficiency in project management can be an extremely delicate equilibrium to maintain.

Standards

To technical communication professionals, it makes a lot of sense to use standards whenever possible to achieve similar results. However, standards in the documentation field are often disregarded. Documentation always kicks in when the product is already behind schedule, and over budget for the product life-cycle. However, we still want to stand behind what we do and make sure we provide a quality product. How does a written language standard potentially help us to achieve this and why do we need a controlled language such as STE to begin with?

Consider the following example:

Standard English:

Follow these instructions to prevent potential failures and damage and to ensure as safe and trouble-free functioning of the product as possible. Read this manual before starting to work with the filter system, familiarize yourself with the functionality and operation of the product and follow the instructions.

STE:

FOR SAFE OPERATION, OBEY THESE INSTRUCTIONS TO PREVENT POSSIBLE FAILURES.
READ THIS MANUAL BEFORE YOU START TO DO WORK WITH THE FILTER SYSTEM. KNOW THE PRODUCT FUNCTION AND OPERATION, AND OBEY ALL INSTRUCTIONS.

Which set of instructions lets you understand and complete the procedure with greater ease?