Technical Text: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Technical Text Defined
  • 3:20 Examples
  • 4:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Joshua Wimmer

Joshua holds a master's degree in Latin and has taught a variety of Classical literature and language courses.

Don't worry; we don't have to get too technical to figure out just what a technical text really is. See how easy they can be to deal with in this lesson, where you'll see technical texts defined, as well as a few examples!

Technical Text Defined

In years of attending school, most of us have dealt with a number of different technical texts, or texts intended to educate the reader in a particular subject or skill through in-depth study and practice. Technical texts, such as a chemistry textbook or car repair manual, fall under the umbrella of didactic literature, which represents any verse or prose work meant to be instructional. There are, however, some characteristics of these texts that set them apart from their other educational relatives. For instance, technical texts can be noted for their meticulous attention to detail. This is because they are intended not simply to inform readers but to engage them in various ideas and processes (i.e. covalent bonds, exhaust manifold rebuild) by outlining and explaining them step-by-step.

Many other didactic works, on the other hand, convey only general principles of a subject (i.e. poetry) or a certain moral ideology and frequently display ornamented and figurative writing styles. Take for instance the Roman poet Horace's 'Ars Poetica,' which is a generalized discussion in verse of the practice of writing verse itself. In this 476-line poem on poetry, which has become known as one of the most influential didactic pieces in history, Horace often illustrates poetic principles by using figurative language.

For example, the poet criticizes a Greek predecessor because he 'shut out sane poets from Helicon,' meaning Democritus thought that good poets must be insane. A technical text, though, differs from other didactic literature in regards to its use of language, usually representing a much more focused work rather than one 'fluffed-out' with figures of speech and other literary devices. Such tools would not be very helpful in helping students understand the very specific and involved concepts that these texts typically cover.

The intense focus of most technical texts encourages the development of well-defined structural elements. We can all remember the innumerable chapters and other subdivisions of our favorite (or most loathed) math book. Say, for instance, we had this math book in front of us. We might find that there is a unit on trigonometric functions that's divided into chapters on the functions and their reciprocals. We might also discover that these chapters are subdivided even further into sections dedicated to each individual function (i.e. sine) and its reciprocal (i.e. cosecant).

Dividing the text in this way makes it easier to cover all of the highly technical information and provides excellent infrastructure for contriving classifications and lists that help clarify the concepts further. These subdivisions also typically serve as a place to emphasize and define terms with specific usages in a particular field known as jargon (i.e. names and relationships of trigonometric functions).

For much of their history, technical texts have been known as dry and detached. However, there's been a move in recent decades to innovate them to appeal to broader audiences through more accessible language and reader involvement, such as by using examples. Speaking of which, let's take a look at a couple examples of some technical texts to see how they've been adapted for audiences today!



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