top of page

Technical Descriptions and Defining Complex Processes

How to effectively describe complex processes and machinery in pharmaceutical manufacturing using advanced English.

medicine production

In the pharmaceutical industry, conveying the intricacies of manufacturing processes and machinery in technical documents is a critical skill. Effective communication ensures clarity, compliance, and efficiency, from research and development to production and quality assurance. This article provides insights on utilizing advanced English to describe complex processes and machinery, ensuring your technical descriptions are both accurate and accessible.

Understand Your Audience

Before diving into the complexities of pharmaceutical manufacturing, it's essential to consider the knowledge level of your audience. Whether you're writing for engineers, technicians, regulatory bodies, or non-specialist stakeholders, tailor your language and detail level accordingly. Avoiding overly technical jargon when unnecessary can make your descriptions more accessible, while still using precise terms that convey the required specificity and technical rigor.

Use Clear and Precise Language

Technical descriptions demand precision. Every term, number, and abbreviation should have a clear purpose. Opt for specific, industry-standard terminology over general descriptions to eliminate ambiguity. For example, instead of saying "large batches," specify the exact volume or weight, such as "batches of 1,000 litres."

Structure Your Technical Descriptions Logically

A well-structured description guides the reader through the process or machinery piece by piece, in a logical order. Begin with an overview of the process or machine's purpose, then delve into the components or steps. For complex machinery, describe each part's function and how they interrelate. For processes, outline each stage, including critical parameters like temperature, pressure, or time, where relevant.

Incorporate Visuals

Whenever possible, include diagrams, flowcharts, or photographs to complement your descriptions. Visual aids can help demystify complex machinery or processes, providing a clearer understanding at a glance. Ensure each visual is clearly labeled and referenced in your text.

Example: Describing a Centrifuge Process

To illustrate, let's describe the use of a centrifuge in separating cellular components from a liquid medium in vaccine production:

"The centrifugation process, a pivotal step in vaccine manufacturing, involves the separation of cellular components from the liquid medium. The process employs a high-capacity centrifuge, capable of reaching rotational speeds up to 15,000 RPM, to induce sedimentation of solid particles. Precise control of centrifugal force, temperature (maintained at 4°C to prevent denaturation), and duration (typically 30 minutes) ensures the integrity of sensitive biological materials. The result is a stratified suspension, with denser particles sedimented at the bottom, facilitating subsequent extraction and purification stages."

Highlight Safety and Compliance Considerations

Given the stringent regulatory environment in pharmaceutical manufacturing, emphasize any safety and compliance aspects related to the process or machinery. Mention standard operating procedures (SOPs), personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements, and any relevant industry standards or regulations.

Use Active Voice Where Appropriate

While passive voice is often used in scientific writing for objectivity, using active voice can make your descriptions more engaging and easier to follow, especially when outlining procedural steps or machinery operation.


Describing complex processes and machinery in pharmaceutical manufacturing requires a careful balance of technical accuracy, clarity, and audience awareness. By employing precise language, structured descriptions, visual aids, and considering safety and compliance, your technical documents will effectively communicate the intricacies of pharmaceutical manufacturing. Always remember, the goal is to inform and clarify, ensuring that your audience can understand and apply the information provided.



Further reading:

"The ACS Style Guide: Effective Communication of Scientific Information" (3rd Edition) by Anne M. Coghill and Lorrin R. Garson: While focused on chemistry, this guide is invaluable for understanding how to effectively communicate scientific and technical information, applicable to pharmaceutical manufacturing.

"Technical Writing: A Practical Guide for Engineers, Scientists, and Nontechnical Professionals" by Phillip A. Laplante: Offers insights into clear and effective technical communication, applicable across various fields, including pharmaceuticals.

"Writing and Designing Manuals and Warnings 4e" by Patricia A. Robinson: This book provides guidance on creating user-friendly manuals and documentation, crucial for machinery and process descriptions in the pharmaceutical sector.

"Scientific Writing and Communication: Papers, Proposals, and Presentations" by Angelika H. Hofmann: Covers all aspects of scientific communication, offering valuable tips for crafting clear and persuasive technical documents.

"How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper" by Barbara Gastel and Robert A. Day: A comprehensive guide to scientific writing and publishing that can be applied to the pharmaceutical context.

Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab): Offers extensive free resources on technical writing, including guidelines, examples, and exercises to improve your scientific and technical writing skills.

Coursera and edX: These platforms offer courses on technical writing, scientific communication, and related fields, often taught by experienced professionals and academics. Look for courses specifically tailored to life sciences or pharmaceuticals.

FDA Guidance Documents: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration publishes numerous guidance documents which are invaluable for understanding regulatory considerations and compliance in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE): Offers resources, guidelines, and training for pharmaceutical engineering, including aspects of technical communication and manufacturing processes.


bottom of page