Cover Page ofThe Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 1.1.5

Appropriateness

Make your document appropriate to your goals in writing it, youraudience's purpose in reading it, and the specific institutionalcontexts in which it is written and read.

Because a reader's knowledge or experience determines the level of comprehension of technicalmaterial, appropriateness is largely determined by your audience. For example, a fact expressed in a mathematical equation may not be effective in a report addressedto a managerial audience. See Document Density.

All technical writing should also be appropriate to the specific institutional context that motivatedits creation. It should not only serve the writer's and the reader's purposes but also conform to thegoals and conventions of the institution in which it exists. Institutional goals and conventions aresometimes clear and explicit. For example, in large companies, the specific goals of variousdocuments, as well as the preferred form and style, are often described in company correspondenceand style manuals.

Although the context is not always clearly delineated, it always can be worked out. Class workshould be done within the context of the goals of the class as well as the specific assignment. Research reports should conform to the general goals and specificconventions of the scientific or technical community in which they are created.

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