The character of Fortuna--brilliant, sexy heiress to the Gambini empire, and two-time winner of both the Grand Prix de Monaco and the Fields Prize in mathematics--is strictly fictional. In fact, all the characters in this book--whether living or dead, implied or extrapolated, fictional or nonfictional--are fictional. The people, the companies, the situations, and everything presented as 100% factual are completely fictional. In fact, I don't even really exist; "Barry Rosenberg" is just a composite author formed by the publishing company from several actual technical authors.1 To be completely honest, this book contains no character named Fortuna. All that stuff about everything being fictional is fictional. The information in this book is the truth and factual and asymptotically approaches satisfactual. I'm real, too. I'm a real technical writer, manager, and teacher, working in the software industry. I occasionally teach technical writing to engineering and science students at a surreal place called MIT. Who Should Read This Book? I've aimed this book at engineers and scientists who must write about stuff. Perhaps you are an esteemed 60-year-old scientist who has long realized how integral writing is to the job. Perhaps you are a 20-year-old science student who is taking a class in technical writing because "you have to." Perhaps your career is somewhere between those two points, and you find it painful to write the specs and reports that your job requires, and you are sick of your peers scribbling "I don't understand" in the margin of everything you write, and you just wish that there were a way to make writing go a little easier. Perhaps you are already a good writer and would like to take your writing to another level. Let me re-emphasize: This book is for engineers and scientists, not professional writers. I've assumed that you don't much care about the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs--you only want to write better. How Is This Book Organized? I've organized this book into the following four sections: Section 1 introduces the field and explains how to plan documentation. Section 2 teaches you the nuts and bolts of technical and scientific writing. Section 3 explains how to write particular kinds of engineering and scientific documents. Section 4 covers editing and producing documentation. The book concludes with a glossary of writing terms. What's Unusual about This Book? This book--like the other books in the Spring Into... Series--provides the following eccentricities: Each topic is explained in a discrete one- or two-page unit called a chunk . Each chunk builds on the previous chunks in that chapter. Most chunks contain one or more examples. I believe that good examples provide the foundation for almost all useful technical documents. Many chunks contain sidebars and "Quantum Leap" sections, which provide helpful, if sometimes digressive, ancillary material. I assume that you are a very busy person for whom the time spent in the very act of buying this book was excruciatingly painful. To repay that incalculable opportunity cost, I've adopted the chunk style of presenting information so that you can learn as rapidly as possible. Finally, I hope you'll find this book fun to read. If you've paid good money for a book--no matter what the topic--boring text is a slap in the face. Writing a Book about Writing Books I had this great cognitive psychology professor as an undergraduate. Three times every week, he lectured us on current research on memory. Without fail, in the middle of every lecture, he ran back to his office to fetch the notes he had forgotten. He followed in the same vein as my acne-scarred dermatologist, my cross-eyed ophthalmologist, and my sister's speech pathology professor, who had a regrettable stuttering problem. All those people haunted me while I wrote this book. I kept wondering whether I was the writing professor who couldn't write well. After writing each sentence, I stepped back and asked, "Am I practicing what I'm preaching?" Friends, it got ugly. I'd write a sentence, then erase it, then rewrite it, and erase it, and on and on it would go. Writing suddenly became very difficult for me. My self-doubt reached biblical proportions. Then it hit me--I had become the audience. I had re-experienced the pain of writing. This was a breakthrough because "becoming the audience" is one of the most important states a technical or scientific writer can achieve. Yes, pain is good. May I write about something else now? Where Can You Download Examples Used in This Book? You can download a subset of the examples from this book by browsing to the following URL: www.awprofessional.com/title/0131498630 What Is Fake in the Examples? I am honor bound to proclaim the following disclaimers about the examples: All of the companies mentioned (Dexco Unlimited, Carambola Publishing, Pravda Mills, Googleplex, Calispindex, and so forth) in this book are figments of my imagination. If I accidentally picked the name of a real enterprise, then it was purely a coincidence. The sample biographies used in this book are of fictitious people. The sample proposals and lab reports exist solely to teach you how to write better proposals and lab reports; they are not based on real proposals or real experiments. Who Helped Me Write This Book? Mark Taub--the publisher of this book--wisely appointed the following three primary reviewers, all of whom were completely amazing: Mary Lou Nohr--brilliant wit of technical editing--who turned out beautifully detailed and highly humorous responses to my drafts. Mary Lou's comments were, themselves, of publishable quality. Chris Sawyer-Laucanno--poet, biographer, expert in ancient languages, and technical writing professor at MIT--who offered insightful and crucial criticism. Nicholas Cravetta--engineer and writer--whose tough love kept me on the straight and narrow. Much of the material in this book originated from a technical writing course I taught for four semesters at MIT. I am indebted to Jim Paradis, Les Perelman, and Steve Strang for giving me the opportunity and the guidance to teach that course. Julie Nahil did a wonderful job guiding this book through its final editorial phases. Other material in this book comes from conversations with great technical writers, including Jim Garrison, Marietta Hitzemann, John Abbott, and Judy Tarutz. Special thanks to Kenyon College and to the technical writing department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for preparing me for the technical writing life. Thanks also to Roger Stern and Arthur Lewbel for random props, information, and jokes. Gigantic thanks to the brilliant engineers at 170 Systems, who served as the inspiration for much of this book. Finally, enormous thanks to my wife Marilyn, who took care of far too many day-to-day details over the last year so that I could have the time to write this book. Note 1. Much the same way that a nineteenth-century publishing syndicate formed "Mark Twain." 0131498630P05022005 Excerpted from Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists by Barry J. Rosenberg All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.