IEEE-USA in Action

Writing for Life – A Continuous Process

By Sharon Richardson

In Writing for Success ” An Engineer’s Guide, Volume 4: Writing for Life, author Tom Moran, a professor in the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies at the Rochester Institute of Technology,  gives readers a closer look at integrating graphics, lists, tables, abbreviations and acronyms, numbers and headings into writing effectively. As a bonus, he adds a section on living with deadlines, and highlights some ways you can continuously improve your writing throughout your careers and your lives.

In the introduction, Moran invites readers of his previous e-books to continue with him, as he discusses how to get on the path to writing success. Volume 4, Writing for Life has such topics as “Lists: Making Them Work for Our Readers,” describing what a well written list looks like. In it, he covers context, structure, length, order and punctuation-all areas that Moran notes “present a real challenge.” He points out how important lists are in our writing: “Properly used, they quickly give readers a sense of the parts that represent the whole,” he writes.

Some of the other topics in the e-book include “Tables: Integrating Data Displays with Our Words”; “Graphics: Complementing Our Writing With Visuals”, “Headlines: Creating Road Signs for Our Reader”; “Technical Terms, Jargon, and Acronyms: Making Them Clear”; “Abbreviations: Using Short Cuts Effectively”; “Words or Numerals: Making the Right Choices with Numbers”; “The Value of Consistency”; “Coping With Deadlines”; and “Writing for Life: The Long Journey toward Excellence”.

Moran shares that “Improving our writing is a continuous process, one that will go on throughout our careers, and long afterward. He says that as we grow in our careers, take on new responsibilities, and meet new technical and managerial challenges, our writing will grow. Moran ends the e-book with some practical suggestions: “Get Help”; “Read, Read, Read”; “Expect Change”; and “Write, Write, Write.”

If you are unfamiliar with Tom Moran’s other volumes of Writing for Success, check out the following:

Writing for Success ” An Engineer’s Guide ” Volume 1: Designing for Success – This e-book is not a technical writing text.  Its purpose is to serve as an inspiration and guide to help engineers approach their writing tasks with the same confidence and skill that they take to the technical problems that confront them ” so that e-mails, reports, test-plans, and other documents they write–are as useful, successful and valued as their engineering efforts.


In Writing for Success ” An Engineer’s Guide ” Volume 2: The Road to Excellence, Moran shares that good writing comes from hard, diligent work:  “Engineers understand what that means in their profession. In writing, that effort means giving our writing a close read, and testing it in every way. As in our engineering efforts, these tests are conducted to identify problems. And when problems are found, we must then develop effective solutions. With writing, these tests involve using a critical eye to detect any aspects of our writing that are unclear, wordy, vague, inaccurate, missing, or unneeded. We understand the purpose of our writing and read it, edit, rewrite, and reread it–until we are sure it accomplishes that purpose as directly and effectively as possible.”

Writing for Success ” An Engineer’s Guide ” Volume 3: The End Products of Engineering Writing –  The 3rd volume in this series looks at the characteristics of several types of written end products, such as reports, specifications, and instructions–documents with the primary mission of informing and explaining.  It also explores requests and proposals–written documents with the primary goal of persuasion. The book also touches on a variety of strategies and methods for making both the informative and persuasive aspects of writing stronger, greatly increasing the chances that your documents will be successful on every level.

Writing For Success ” An Engineer’s Guide, Volume 4: Writing for Life can be downloaded at, for the IEEE Member price: $7.99. Non-member price is $9.99.

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Ideas for New E-Books

IEEE-USA E-Books invites IEEE members and volunteers to submit queries for e-books they may want to write. If you’ve got an idea for an e-book that will educate other IEEE members on career guidance and development topics for engineers, e-mail your e-book queries and ideas to IEEE-USA Publishing Manager Georgia Stelluto at


IEEE-USA advances the public good and promotes the careers and public policy interests of more than 210,000 engineers, scientists and allied professionals who are U.S. members of IEEE. IEEE-USA is part of IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional society with 375,000 members in 160 countries. See

Sharon Richardson is IEEE-USA’s communications coordinator and editorial assistant for IEEE-USA in ACTION.



Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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