Bitesize STE – Is training essential?

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.

This month, we examine the STE Maintenance Group’s statement that: “STE training is the first essential step for a technical author to be able to apply STE correctly.” (asd-ste100.org/training)

Is STE training essential?

Implementing STE goes to the heart of technical communication and focuses the writer’s attention on the words that they write. Put simply, success begins with the skill of the author who can follow the STE specification and produce text that follows the rules.

Any author can get the STE specification from the STE website and start writing without any training. (http://asd-ste100.org/request.html) Although this sounds easy to say, doing it is not so easy for these reasons:

At 368 pages, the specification is a daunting document. Of its two parts, the dictionary of approved terms looks easier to understand, so most start using the dictionary first.

  1. To get the full benefit of STE, you have to use the dictionary of approved terms with the writing rules. Without the writing rules it is very hard to gain much from just substituting words from the dictionary.
  2. The STE Maintenance Group states that writing STE correctly “requires a good command of the English language.” (asd-ste100.org/training) Applying the rules and choosing correct terms requires the conscious rather than instinctive use of English grammar that many authors have not considered for a long time, or learnt at all.
  3. The style of text in STE can be different from what authors are used to reading or writing and can be hard to sell to others who are not familiar with the STE style.

So how can training help? STE training can give you a guided tour through the specification. The training should:

  • give you the key grammatical terms that you need to apply STE.
  • show you how the rules in part 1 work with the approved terms in part 2 to create text that is clear and concise.
  • give you plenty of opportunities to write in STE, ask questions and get feedback.

Additionally, an experienced trainer can give you suggestions about how you can apply STE in your organisation based on experience from other organisations. The trainer can also give you suggestions on how you can convince others to embrace STE. And who knows, besides being a “first essential step” to writing STE, training might even be fun!

View all Bitesize STE items

Simplified Technical English Training

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.n1563367117okem@1563367117greb.1563367117ennas1563367117us1563367117.

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.