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Simplified Technical English

Rule-Based Writing / Controlled Language

The aim of technical documentation is to transfer information reliably and unambiguously. For this purpose, professional writers increasingly use the approach of rule-based writing or controlled language: rules tell the writer how to structure information and sentences. Such texts do not include redundant or ambiguous information. Thus, they are much easier to understand and the users can take appropriate action more quickly.

Rule-based technical documentation is primarily intended as a direct communication link between the writer and the user. Moreover, rule-based texts can be translated more easily into other languages, thus reducing costs and speeding up processes.

Simplified Technical English (STE)

Since 1986, STE, in accordance with the specification ASD-STE100, has continued to advance as a controlled language with consistently high quality.
Although this standard was developed within the aerospace industry, it can be used for transferring technical information in all technical fields. As a classical controlled language, STE consists of a set of writing rules and a dictionary of general terms for use in technical texts. These writing rules include standard rules and special rules that govern the mechanism of the controlled language STE.

Some Standard Rules:

  • Use consistent terminology.
  • Use lists or enumerations instead of complex continuous text.
  • Identify the safety precautions correctly.

Some Special Rules:

  • Restrict the sentence length.
  • Do not use the "–ing-form" of verbs.
  • Use the active voice as much as possible. Use the passive voice sparingly.
  • Do not use vague helping verbs (may, might, should, ...).
  • Use simple tenses.
These consistent rules determine the writer's way of thinking and his writing style, thus eliminating the redundant and ambiguous information typical in free-style text. As a result, texts prepared correctly in STE are concise, unambiguous and easily understood by international audiences.

Save Translation Costs

Technical documentation prepared in STE is quickly and easily understood by audiences with a minimal command of English. Thus, costly translations can be eliminated. If translations into other languages are required, they can be prepared faster and cheaper.
  • Mature standard proven in practice
  • Mandatory MUST rules
  • User-friendly
  • Texts in STE are easier to understand
  • STE makes translation easier
  • STE can make translations redundant

Considerable potential savings

STE Training

With professional assistance, any writer with technical know-how and a good command of technical English can learn and apply STE within a short period of time. This requires professional training with competent feedback. Using this approach, we have been successfully teaching technical writers throughout Germany for more than 20 years.

Training - Simplified Technical English