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Defining Glossaries

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Glossaries are lists of specialized word definitions contained in technical documentation that can assist the nontechnical user to comprehend fully the technical topic at hand. In a joint project with SAS Institute, I sought to discover how glossaries were first developed, what guidelines are available for technical writers in the writing of glossaries, and what rhetorical technique might be of value for glossary writers. I found that glossaries are much more than simple word lists; they are, in fact, an opportunity for the technical writer to outline and protect the parameters of technical discourse between a company and its customers across multiple communications channels, and different languages. In an increasingly global technical environment, an explicit connection between the rhetorical technique of definition and the writing of glossary definitions should be made to aid technical writers in this task.

Document Type: Journal Article

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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