Bitesize STE –  Do you need software?

Bitesize STE is written by Mekon’s Simplified Technical English trainer Ciaran Dodd.

Although ASD-STE100 Simplified Technical English (STE) is thirty years old, I meet many people in technical communications who either do not know about STE or have misconceptions about it. In the next few issues of Bitesize STE we will examine some of these misconceptions and show how STE can work for you.

In the last of this series, we answer the question:  Do you need software to write in STE?

Do you need software to write in STE?

No, is the short answer. Or, as the STE Maintenance Group (STEMG) states: “NO. Software will not think in your place. Software does not replace the STE specification.” (

This statement reflects what I wrote in last month’s Bitesize STE: success in STE begins with the skill of the author who knows the STE specification and produces text that follows the rules. No software will write in STE for you. Software can only be an aid – much like spell-check in WORD. If you do not understand the rules of the specification or can’t follow its rules, then software will not help.

But, once you’ve had your STE training and depending on your role (author, editor, quality, translator), software could be useful to you. The STEMG recognise this and have put some useful guidance on the software page I have already referenced. They do not however endorse any software product.

What software is there?

The STEMG defines 3 types of software:

  • Word and rule checkers that highlight text that breaks STE rules or terms that are not approved or known in STE.
  • Word checkers that only highlight unapproved or unknown words by checking against a database of STE terms and your own technical names and verbs.
  • Look-up tools that are more like electronic versions of the specification for reference.

Besides the 3 types of software, you need to be aware that some checkers are for a controlled language that is not necessarily the same as STE. So, if you want to check compliance with STE you would need software that fully incorporates the STE specification and doesn’t contain elements that conflict with STE.

Who will use the software?

Authors, editors, translators, quality reviewers will all have slightly different demands on a checker which you need to take into account when considering software. You will also need to consider who will maintain and manage the software to keep terms up-to-date and controlled.

How will the software fit into your current production system?

There will be practical implications about which tools you choose because of your existing workflow and production software. And of course there are the cost and implementation issues to consider. Make sure that you are clear what your needs are, test a number of products carefully and then review your needs again before you invest.


You do not need any software to be able to write well in STE and many organisations (of all sizes) who use STE do not have any software products. In practice, a well-considered software product could help you to write and edit STE texts more efficiently if the software is properly chosen and implemented. The STEMG Software page gives a detailed summary of the issues to consider and is a good place to start. Here is a useful list of checkers for controlled language (not only STE) compiled by Mike Unwalla from Techscribe, who includes in his list “Customized software tools from Mekon”.

So if adopting STE is on your list for 2017, come and talk to us about training and possibly software.

Mekon offer a range of software products to provide the end user with the tools to write and publish specific content. Some clients require specialised projects which may be based on our mainstream products to enable them to carry out a specific task. Find out more.

PS – Look out for our next update because Issue 7 of the STE specification is due out soon.

Looking for Simplified Technical English (STE) Training?

Book your place on one of our Simplified Technical English training courses. Our Simplified Technical English Training c This course is a practical introduction for those who will use Simplified Technical English (formerly AECMA Simplified English). The course introduces the philosophy of Simplified Technical English, explains the underlying grammatical principles and gives delegates opportunities to use Simplified Technical English in practical exercises. These exercises can be based on your company’s documentation.

Find out more about our Simplified Technical English Specification: ASD-STE100 training delivered by Ciaran or email moc.n1566375628okem@1566375628greb.1566375628ennas1566375628us1566375628.

About Ciaran

“Who is your audience and what do they need?”

“How do you meet those needs efficiently, cost effectively and to a high standard?”

ciaranCiaran Dodd has been ensuring that clients address both of these questions using ASD Simplified Technical English (ASD-STE100) since 2002, after being trained by the United Kingdom’s ASD-STE100 co-ordinator in 2001. Ciaran started her career in training at Rolls-Royce, which is where she became involved in training all aspects of writing, including ASD-STE100. After leaving the organisation, Ciaran set up an independent consultancy specialising in communication and learning skills. She has extensive experience of working with major names in engineering; particularly in defence aerospace and the automotive industries.

Ciaran is a qualified trainer, teacher and teacher of English as a foreign language. After completing a law degree at Cambridge University, she taught English in a Chinese university for two years. She has taught all aspects of the English language in commercial and public organisations since 1994.