Technical definition

A technical definition is a definition in technical communication describing or explaining technical terminology. Technical definitions are used to introduce the vocabulary which makes communication in a particular field succinct and unambiguous. (For example, the "illiac crest" from medical terminology is the top ridge of the hip bone. (See illium.))

Types of technical definitions

There are three main types of technical definitions. [Johnson-Sheehan, R: "Technical Communication Today", pages 507-522. Pearson Longman, 2007]
# Parenthetical definitions
# Sentence definitions
# Extended definitions

Parenthetical definitions

Parenthetical definition are used to introduce words by using a synonym or short description immediately after the word. The synonym or description usually delimited by parenthesis (hence the definition) or commas.

Examples

Aniline, a benzene ring with an amine group, is a versatile chemical used in many organic syntheses.

The genus "Helogale" (dwarf mongooses) contains two species.

entence definitions

These definitions generally appear in three different places: with in the text, in margin notes, or in a glossary. Regardless of position in the document, most sentence definitions follow the basic form of term, category, and distinguishing features.

Examples

A major scale is a diatonic scale which has the semitone interval pattern 2-2-1-2-2-2-1.
* term: major scale
* category: diatonic scales
* distinguishing features: semitone interval pattern 2-2-1-2-2-2-1

In mathematics, an abelian group is a group which is commutative.
* term: abelian group
* category: mathematical groups
* distinguishing features: commutative

Extended definitions

When a term needs to be explained in great detail and precision, an extended definition is used. They can range in size from a few sentences to many pages. Shorter ones are usually found in the text, and lengthy definitions are placed in a glossary.

Examples

Encyclopaedias are full of extended definitions. Most of the pages on Wikipedia are extended definitions, and you are reading one right now.

References


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