With this new edition, Science and Technical Writing confirms its position as the definitive style resource for thousands of established and aspiring technical writers. Editor Philip Rubens has fully revised and updated his popular 1992 edition, with full, authoritative coverage of the techniques and technologies that have revolutionized electronic communications over the past eight years.
A decade ago, this book might have become the bible for a generation of technical writers: It is authoritative, exhaustive, and well organized. It is also obsolete in several sections: No mention is made of the plethora of computer software programs upon which even the most casual technical writers nowadays depend. Indeed, it is as though the personal computer hardly exists. The sections on document design are written as though paper were the medium of choice and ``laserographic printers'' were rare devices. Likewise, sections on numbers, symbols, and mathematical equations are well done, but there is no mention whatsoever of how software is useful and important. The stylebook sections are comprehensive but not prescriptive, presenting all possible choices with few prohibitions: Words such as finalize and prioritize are described as ``increasingly common'' and ``tending toward jargon.'' As a result, this work is much more permissive than The Chicago Manual of Style (Univ. of Chicago Pr., 1982. 13th ed.). Citation sections describe but never name various styles such as those found in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (Modern Language Assn. of America, 1988. 3d ed.). Sections on nonnative readers and abbreviations are useful; grammar and usage are adequately handled, although often permissive rather than prescriptive; and clear explanations are offered of significant digits and indexing. Finally, the table of contents is excellent. Overall, this is extremely useful for noncomputer users, less so for others, its main shortcoming being what is not covered--the personal computer age.-- Mark Shelton, Athens, Ohio