Clear Technical Writing
Clear Terms

Device Qualifiers

We sometimes use an unnecessary qualifier when we talk about a device or piece of equipment.

The receiver unit required several minutes to warm up.

I tested the projector equipment.

Simple deletions are often enough.

The receiver required several minutes to warm up.

I tested the projector.

Other edits require a slight rewrite, especially when the item being written about is buried in an adjective.

We should replace the latching mechanism.

We should replace the latch.

The connecting device was missing.

The connector was missing.

Edit your writing by spotting device qualifiers.

Adjust the controller hardware for the pulp grinder. Clean and wet the freeness testing device with distilled water. Place the drainage chamber on the upper bracket member with its lower lid closed. Thoroughly stir the stock in the bucket to ensure a homogeneous mix. Gently invert the cylinder unit 180 degrees, three times. Pour the stock rapidly into the chamber apparatus. Close the top lid, then open the bottom lid. After five seconds, open the air-cock mechanism in a single motion. Record the volume discharged from the side orifice assembly.

Exceptions for the word unit

It's okay to use the word unit when you are referring to a small device or machine with a particular purpose.

The waste disposal unit has no need for a central processing unit.

It's also okay to use the word unit if everyone at work uses the word to identify a device you build or work with.

I deliver the transmission control unit just in time for each vehicle on the assembly line. It's the device that controls the transmission, so it could be called the transmission controller. But everybody here calls it the transmission control unit or the TCU.

And finally, it's okay to use the word unit when you write about a group of people who work together at a specific job or task.

We hired a new lab technician in our health services research unit.

This last example is more about an organization than it is about a device, and you could argue it's more an identifier than it is a qualifier.

Lesson: Device Qualifiers
Module: Clear Terms
Course: Clear Technical Writing