The Essentials of Technical Communication

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  • Edition: 3rd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 11/18/2014
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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Practical, concise, and reasonably priced, The Essentials of Technical Communication, Third Edition, gives students the tools they need to get their message across in today's workplace.

Author Biography

About the Authors

Elizabeth Tebeaux is Professor of English at Texas A&M University.

Sam Dragga is Professor of Technical Communication at Texas Tech University

Table of Contents

* Each chapter ends with exercises


Part 1. Principles
1. Characteristics of Writing at Work
Writing at Work versus Writing at School
Requires acute awareness of security and legal liability
Requires awareness that documents may be read by unknown readers
Achieves job goals
Addresses a variety of readers who have different perspectives
Creates excessive paperwork and e-mails
Uses a variety of documents
The Foundations of Effective Writing at Work
The Qualities of Good Technical Writing

2. Writing for Your Readers
Understand Your Readers-The Heart of the Planning Process
Keep in mind that business readers want answers now
Determine your readers and their perspectives
Determine your purpose
Understand your role as a writer
Plan the content
Case 2-1
Anticipate the context in which your writing will be received
The Basic Parts of the Composing Process
Analyzing the writing situation-purpose, readers, and context
Choosing/discovering content
Case 2-2
Arranging content
Case 2-3
Planning and Revision Checklist

3. Writing Ethically
Your Professional Obligations
Codes of Conduct
Recognizing Unethical Communication
Plagiarism and theft of intellectual property
Deliberately imprecise or ambiguous language
Manipulation of numerical information
Use of misleading illustrations
Promotion of prejudice
Uncritical use of information
Managing Unethical Situations
Ethics Decision Checklist

4. Achieving a Readable Style
The Paragraph
Examples for study
Basic Principles of Effective Style
Determine your readers' knowledge of the subject
Determine whether a particular style will be expected
Adjust the style to the readers, the purpose, and the context
Keys to Building Effective Sentences
Watch sentence length
Keep subjects and verbs close together
Write squeaky-clean prose
Avoid pompous language; write to express, not to impress
Avoid excessive use of is/are verb forms
Use active voice for clarity
Word Choice
Style Checklist

5. Designing Documents
Understanding the Basics of Document Design
Know what decisions are yours to make
Choose a design that fits your situation
Plan your design from the beginning
Reveal your design to your readers
Keep your design consistent
Designing Effective Pages and Screens
Use blank space to frame and group information
Space the lines of text for easy reading
Adjust the line length to the size of the page or screen
Use a ragged right margin
Helping Readers Locate Information
Use frequent headings
Write descriptive headings
Design distinctive headings
Use page numbers and headers or footers
Document Design Checklist

6. Designing Illustrations
Creating Illustrations
Bar and column graphs
Circle graphs
Line graphs
Organization charts
Flow charts
Animation clips
Film clips
Designing Illustrations Ethically
Illustration Checklist

Part 2. Applications
7. E-mails, Texts, Memos, and Letters
E-mail and Text Messages
Memos and Letters
Guidelines for Ensuring Quality
Appropriate Tone in E-mails, Texts, Memos, and Letters
Guidelines for Dealing with Tone
Planning and Writing Correspondence
Case 7-1: Informational e-mail message
Case 7-2: Instructional memo
Case 7-3: Letter requesting information
Case 7-4: Unfavorable news letter
Case 7-5: Letter of reply
Correspondence Checklist

8. Technical Reports
Kinds of Reports
Report Categories-Informal and Formal
Informal Report Heading 154
Subject line
Action required
Distribution list
Parts of an Informal Technical Report
Developing Reports
Case 8-1
Elements of Formal Reports
Prefatory elements
Abstracts and summaries
Discussion, or body of the report
Collecting and grouping information
Case 8-2
Letter Reports
Example Report for Study
Writing Collaboratively
The team leader
Requirements of team leaders
Requirements of team members
Report Checklist

9. Proposals and Progress Reports
Example RFP
The context of proposal development
Effective argument in proposal development
Standard sections of proposals
Case 9-1: Research proposal
Case 9-2: Project proposal
Progress Reports
Structure of progress reports
Case 9-3
Case 9-4
Style and Tone of Proposals and Progress Reports
Checklist for Developing Proposals and Progress Reports

10. Instructions, Procedures, and Policies
Instructions versus Procedures
Critical Role of Instructions and Procedures in the Workplace
Planning Instructions and Procedures
Structure and Organization
Theory governing the procedure or instruction
Warnings, cautions, hazards, and notes regarding safety or quality
Conditions under which the task should be performed
Name of each step
Case 10-1: Process instructions
Case 10-2: Job instructions
Case 10-3: Instructional letter
Online Instructions
Case 10-4
Checklist for Developing Instructions/Procedures

11. Oral Reports
Understanding the Speaking-Writing Relationship
Analyzing the Audience
Determining the Goal of Your Presentation
Choosing and Shaping Content
Analyzing the Context
Choosing the Organization
Choosing an Appropriate Speaking Style
Choosing Visuals to Enhance Your Purpose and Your Meaning
Planning Your Presentation-Questions You Need to Ask
Speaking to Multicultural Audiences
Designing Each Segment
Choose an interesting title
Develop your presentation around three main divisions
Plan the introduction carefully
Design the body
Design the conclusion
Choosing an Effective Delivery Style
Techniques to Enhance Audience Comprehension
Designing and Presenting the Written Paper
Structuring the written speech
Writing the speech
Practicing the presentation
Checklist for Preparing Oral Reports

12. Résumés and Job Applications
The Correspondence of the Job Search
Letter of application
The résumé
Follow-up letters
The interview
Before and after the interview
Job Search Checklist

Appendix A. Brief Guide to Grammar, Punctuation, and Usage
Appendix B. Using Sources of Information
Appendix C. Report for Study

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