Information within technical manuals must be: accurate, complete, relevant, concise, convincing, meaningful and unambiguous before it can be of any use. These seven characteristics all make significant contributions to a technical publication but they are of little use unless there is a precise and clear understanding of the contents by the widest range of users anticipated.
Simplified English is a subset of “normal” English that technical writers (technical authors in the UK) can use to improve the readability of aircraft maintenance procedures. Simplified English is not “Simple English” as it demands a very sound working knowledge of conventional English and much greater concentration and awareness by the technical writer / technical author. Simplified English does not cover up for a lack of writing skills. It was designed to be easy for the reader to learn and understand so that the text need not have to be translated. However, if translation is required then Simplified English will make the task easier because of its one word – one meaning philosophy.
Simplified English is a controlled language that has a simplified vocabulary (about 1,000 words), with clearly defined meanings, that has a set of rules (about 55) for using the vocabulary. The approved words and rules are not frozen because not all the words in the English language are included. Technical writers / technical authors might come across words that are missing and consequently these words would have to be added to the vocabulary. The vocabulary words are from three sources.
These are words that are in the Simplified English dictionary. Approved words are indicated in the dictionary as upper case. Only the parts of speech and definitions assigned to the approved word can be used.
If a word is shown as a noun it cannot be used as a verb. An example is the word Test, it is used as a noun and not a verb. Do the leak test for the system not test the system for leaks.
These are words that fit into one of the categories listed in Simplified English (adjectives and nouns). Technical names can be regarded as un-restricted and are names specified and approved by the company or companies involved.
There are four basic rules covering the use of technical names:
- Use only as a noun or an adjective.
- Use only the official technical name.
- Do not use different technical names for the same thing.
- If there is a choice, use the simplest, most easily understood alternative.
There are 20 different categories of technical names:
- Names in official parts information.
- Names of locations on the aircraft.
- Names of tools or equipment.
- Names of materials and consumables.
- Names of aircraft support facilities.
- Names of circuits or systems, their parts or locations in them.
- Names of persons,groups or bodies.
- Names of technical records.
- Mathematical, scientific or engineering terms.
- Navigational terms.
- Medical terms.
- Damage terms.
- Headings and topics used in specifications.
- Documents, manuals or parts of a manual.
- Parts of the body.
- Units of measurement or dial markings.
- Common personal effects.
- Environmental conditions.
These are words that fit into one of six categories listed in Simplified English (always verbs).
- One that removes material.
- One that adds material.
- One that attaches material.
- One that changes the mechanical strength, structure and or physical properties of a material.
- One that changes the surface finish of a material.
- One that changes the shape of a material.
There are two basic rules covering the use of manufacturing processes:
- You must use only the official manufacturing process term.
- You can only use a manufacturing process as a verb.