gsp@ulysses.UUCP (Gary Perlman) (06/27/84)
Here is an abstract of a paper that recently appeared in Visible Language. I think it owuld be of interest to those interested in technical writing. Request reprints from: Gary Perlman AT&T Bell Labs 5D-105 600 Mountain Ave. Murray Hill, NJ 07974 (201) 582-3624 uucp: ulysses!gsp Graphical Abstractions of Technical Documents Gary Perlman Thomas D. Erickson Good technical writing demands clear and concise communication that allows readers to skim documents for efficient access to information. To aid technical writers, many computer programs have been written to analyze writing style in the hopes of improving writing standards, These programs have tended to be of a numerical statistical nature, summarizing a document or predicting its "goodness." We feel such programs hide more information that is advisable to help writers understand where and why their documents may have difficulties. After introducing the general concept of an abstraction of a document, we describe the other side of the text analysis coin: graphical displays of text that enhance structural components of a document. We describe two programs for graphical textual analysis: one generates displays of the logical structure of sections of a document; the other generates graphs of the complexity of individual sentences. While these programs are not the final statement of abstract text analysis, they point a new direction in which we think writing aids should be going.