Practical Strategies for Technical Communication

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2015-11-13
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


In Practical Strategies for Technical Communication, Mike Markel gives students the essentials they'll need to communicate successfully in today's workplace. The book offers concise and accessible yet thorough coverage of audience and purpose, research, style, and document design, and strategies for designing all of the major document types. For the second edition, Markel has worked with organizations to choose sample documents and annotate them with insights and advice from the employees who developed them. Throughout the text, a new set of engaging graphics provides visual explanations of key concepts.

Practical Strategies for Technical Communication is now available with LaunchPad– a customizable course space featuring an ebook and an exciting array of digital resources including a test bank, adaptive quizzing, multimedia Document Analysis Activities, and more. To order or purchase the print book packaged with LaunchPad, use ISBN 9781319018207.

Author Biography

Mike Markel is director of technical communication at Boise State University, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. The former editor of IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, he is the author of numerous articles and six books about technical communication, including Ethics and Technical Communication: A Critique and Synthesis. His latest book is Big Sick Heart, a mystery.

Table of Contents

Part 1 Working in the Technical Communication Environment

1: Introduction to Technical Communication

What Is Technical Communication?

The Challenges of Producing Technical Documents

   ■ Thinking Visually: Characteristics of a Technical Document

   ■ Thinking Visually: Measures of Excellence in Technical Documents

Skills and Qualities Shared by Successful Workplace Communicators

How Communication Skills and Qualities Affect Your Career

A Process for Writing Technical Documents

■ Focus on Process: Writing Technical Documents

A Look at Three Technical Documents


LearningCurve: Understanding the Technical Communication Environment [LaunchPad]

Case 1: Using the Measures of Excellence in Evaluating a Résumé [LaunchPad]

2: Understanding Ethical and Legal Obligations

A Brief Introduction to Ethics

Your Ethical and Legal Obligations

   Obligations to Your Employer

   Obligations to the Public

   Obligations to the Environment

   Obligations to Copyright Holders

   ■ Guidelines: Determining Fair Use

   ■ Guidelines: Dealing with Copyright Questions

   ■ Ethics Note: Distinguishing Plagiarism from Acceptable Reuse of Information

The Role of Corporate Culture in Ethical and Legal Conduct

Understanding Ethical and Legal Issues Related to Social Media

   ■ Guidelines: Using Social Media Ethically and Legally

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Presenting Guidelines for Using Social Media

Communicating Ethically Across Cultures

   Communicating with Cultures with Different Ethical Beliefs

   Communicating in Countries with Different Laws

■ Thinking Visually: Principles for Ethical Communication

Writer's Checklist


LearningCurve: Understanding the Technical Communication Environment [LaunchPad]

Case 2: The Ethics of Requiring Students to Subsidize a Plagiarism-Detection Service [LaunchPad]

3: Writing Collaboratively

■ Thinking Visually: Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaboration

Managing Projects

■ Guidelines: Managing Your Project

Conducting Meetings

   Listening Effectively

   ■ Guidelines: Listening Effectively

   ■ Guidelines: Setting Your Team’s Agenda

  ■ Ethics Note: Pulling Your Weight on Collaborative Projects

   Conducting Efficient Meetings

   Communicating Diplomatically

   Critiquing a Team Member’s Work

   ■ Guidelines: Communicating Diplomatically

   ■ Guidelines: Critiquing a Colleague’s Work

Using Social Media and Other Electronic Tools in Collaboration

   Word-Processing Tools

   Messaging Technologies

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Critiquing a Draft Clearly and Diplomatically


   ■ Guidelines: Participating in a Videoconference

   Wikis and Shared Document Workspaces

   ■ Ethics Note: Maintaining a Professional Presence Online

Gender and Collaboration

Culture and Collaboration

Writer’s Checklist  


LearningCurve: Understanding the Technical Communication Environment [LaunchPad]

Case 3: Accommodating a Team Member’s Scheduling Problems


PART 2: Planning and Drafting the Document

4: Analyzing Your Audience and Purpose

Understanding Audience and Purpose

Using an Audience Profile Sheet

   ■ Thinking Visually: Determining the Important Characteristics of Your Audience

   ■ Choices and Strategies: Responding to Readers’ Attitudes

Techniques for Learning About Your Audience

   Determining What You Already Know About Your Audience

   Interviewing People

   Reading About Your Audience Online

   Searching Social Media for Documents Your Audience Has Written

   Analyzing Social-Media Data  

Communicating Across Cultures

   Understanding the Cultural Variables "on the Surface"

   Understanding the Cultural Variables "Beneath the Surface"

   Considering Cultural Variables as You Write

   ■ Guidelines: Writing for Readers from Other Cultures

    ■ Document Analysis Activity: Examining Cultural Variables in a Business Letter

    Using Graphics and Design for Multicultural Readers

Applying What You Have Learned About Your Audience

   ■ Ethics Note: Meeting Your Readers’ Needs Responsibly

Writing for Multiple Audiences

Determining Your Purpose

Writer's Checklist


LearningCurve: Analyzing Your Audience and Purpose [LaunchPad]

Case 4: Focusing on an Audience's Needs and Interests [LaunchPad]

5: Researching Your Subject

Understanding the Differences Between Academic and Workplace Research

Understanding the Research Process

Choosing Appropriate Research Methods

■ Focus on Process: Researching a Topic

   ■ Choices and Strategies: Choosing Appropriate Research Techniques

   ■ Guidelines: Researching a Topic

Conducting Secondary Research

  Using Traditional Research Tools

  Using Social-Media and Other Interactive Resources

   Evaluating the Information

   ■ Guidelines: Evaluating Print and Online Sources

Conducting Primary Research

   Analysis of Social-Media Data

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Evaluating Information from Internet Sources

   Observations and Demonstrations



   Field Research


   ■ Guidelines: Conducting an Interview



   ■ Choices and Strategies: Choosing Types of Questions for Questionnaires

   ■ Ethics Note: Reporting and Analyzing Data Honestly

Writer's Checklist


LearningCurve: Researching Your Subject [LaunchPad]

Case 5: Revising a Questionnaire [LaunchPad]

6: Writing for Your Readers

Presenting Yourself Effectively

    ■ Guidelines: Creating a Professional Persona

Using Basic Organizational Patterns

   ■ Choices and Strategies: Choosing Effective Organizational Patterns

 Writing Clear, Informative Titles

   ■ Guidelines: Revising Headings

Writing Clear, Informative Paragraphs

   Structure Paragraphs Clearly

   ■ Ethics Note: Avoiding Burying Bad News in Paragraphs

   ■ Guidelines: Dividing Long Paragraphs

   Use Coherence Devices Within and Between Paragraphs

Writing Grammatically Correct Sentences

   Avoid Sentence Fragments

   Avoid Comma Splices

   Avoid Run-On Sentences

   Avoid Ambiguous Pronoun References

  Compare Items Clearly

   Use Adjectives Clearly

   Maintain Subject-Verb Agreement

   Maintain Pronoun-Antecedent Agreement

   Use Tenses Correctly

Structuring Effective Sentences

   Emphasize New and Important


   Choose an Appropriate Sentence Length

   Focus on the "Real Subject"

   Focus on the "Real Verb"

   Use Parallel Structure

   Use Modifiers Effectively

Choosing the Right Words and Phrases

   Select an Appropriate Level of Formality

   Be Clear and Specific

   ■ Ethics Note: Euphemisms and Truth Telling

   Be Concise

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Revising for Conciseness and Simplicity

   Use Inoffensive Language

   ■ Guidelines: Avoiding Sexist Language

   ■ Guidelines: Using the People-First Approach

Writer's Checklist


LearningCurve: Organizing and Emphasizing Information [LaunchPad]

LearningCurve: Writing Correct and Effective Sentences [LaunchPad]

Case 6a: Emphasizing Important Information in a Technical Description [LaunchPad]

Part 3: Designing User-Friendly Documents and Websites

7: Designing Print and Online Documents

Goals of Document Design

Planning the Design of Print and Online Documents

   ■ Guidelines: Planning Your Design

Understanding Design Principles





Designing Print Documents

   Accessing Aids

   ■ Tech Tip: How To Set Up Pages

   ■ Choices and Strategies: Creating Access Aids

   ■ Guidelines: Understanding Learning Theory and Page Design

   Page Layout



   Titles and Headings

   Other Design Features

   ■ Ethics Note: Using Type Sizes Responsibly

   ■ Tech Tip: How To Create Borders and Screens

   ■ Tech Tip: How To Create Text Boxes

Analyzing Several Print-Document Designs

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Analyzing a Page Design

Designing Online Documents

   Use Design To Emphasize Important Information

   Create Informative Headers and Footers

   Help Readers Navigate the Document

   ■ Guidelines: Making Your Documents Easy To Navigate

   Include Extra Features Your Readers Might Need

   Help Readers Connect with Others

   Design for Readers with Disabilities

   Design for Multicultural Audiences

   ■ Ethics Note: Designing Legal and Honest Online Documents

   Aim for Simplicity

    ■ Guidelines: Designing Simple, Clear Web Pages

Analyzing Several Online-Document Designs

Writer's Checklist


Case 7: Designing a Flyer [LaunchPad]

8: Creating Graphics

The Functions of Graphics

■ Thinking Visually: Characteristics of an Effective Graphic

Understanding the Process of Creating Graphics

   Planning Graphics

   ■ Ethics Note: Creating Honest Graphics

   Producing Graphics

   ■ Guidelines: Integrating Graphics and Text

   ■ Tech Tip: How To Insert and Modify Graphics

   Revising Graphics

    Citing Sources of Graphics

Using Color Effectively

Choosing the Appropriate Kind of Graphic

   Illustrating Numerical Information

   ■ Choices and Strategies: Choosing the Appropriate Kind of Graphic

   ■ Guidelines: Creating Effective Tables

   ■ Guidelines: Creating Effective Bar Graphs

   ■ Guidelines: Creating Effective Infographics

   ■ Tech Tip: How To Use Drawing Tools

    ■ Guidelines: Creating Effective Line Graphs

    ■ Guidelines: Creating Effective Pie Charts

   Illustrating Logical Relationships

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Analyzing a Graphic

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Interactive Graphic [LaunchPad]

   Illustrating Process Descriptions and Instructions

   Illustrating Visual and Spatial Characteristics

   ■ Guidelines: Presenting Photographs Effectively

   ■Tech Tip: How To Create and Insert Screen Shots

Creating Effective Graphics for Multicultural Readers

Writer's Checklist 


Case 8: Creating Appropriate Graphics To Accompany a Report [LaunchPad]

Part 4: Learning Important Applications

9: Writing Correspondence

Understanding the Process for Writing Correspondence

■ Focus on Process: Writing Correspondence

   ■ Choices and Strategies: Choosing a Type of Correspondence

Presenting Yourself Effectively in Correspondence

   Use the Appropriate Level of Formality

   Communicate Correctly

   Project the "You Attitude"

   Avoid Correspondence Clichés

   Communicate Honestly

   ■ Ethics Note: Writing Honest Business Correspondence

Writing Letters

   Elements of a Letter

   Common Types of Letters

Writing Memos

   ■ Guidelines: Organizing a Memo

Writing Emails

   ■ Guidelines: Following Netiquette

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Following Netiquette in an Email Message

Writing Microblogs

  ■ Guidelines: Representing Your Organization in a Microblog

Writing Correspondence to Multicultural Readers

Writer’s Checklist 


Case 9: Setting Up and Maintaining a Professional Microblog Account [LaunchPad]

10: Writing Job-Application Materials

Establishing Your Professional Brand

   ■ Guidelines: Building the Foundation of Your Professional Brand

   ■ Guidelines: Presenting Your Professional Brand

   ■ Ethics Note: Writing Honest Job-Application Materials

Understanding Four Major Ways To Look for a Position

   ■ Guidelines: Using LinkedIn’s Employment Features

Writing Résumés

   Elements of the Chronological Résumé

   ■ Guidelines: Elaborating on Your Education

   Elements of the Skills Résumé

   Preparing a Plain-Text Résumé

   ■ Guidelines: Formatting a Plain-Text Résumé

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Preparing a Résumé

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Blane C. Holden’s Online Portfolio [LaunchPad]

Writing Job-Application Letters

Writing Follow-up Letters or Emails After an Interview

Writer’s Checklist 


Case 10: Identifying the Best-of-the-Best Job-Search Sites [LaunchPad]

11: Writing Proposals

■ Focus on Process: Writing Proposals

The Logistics of Proposals

   Internal and External Proposals

   Solicited and Unsolicited Proposals

The "Deliverables" of Proposals

   Research Proposals

   Goods and Services Proposals

Persuasion and Proposals

   Understanding Readers’ Needs

   Describing What You Plan to Do

   Demonstrating Your Professionalism

   ■ Guidelines: Demonstrating Your Professionalism in a Proposal

   ■ Ethics Note: Writing Honest Proposals

The Structure of the Proposal



   ■ Guidelines: Introducing a Proposal

   Proposed Program

   Qualifications and Experience

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Writing the Proposed Program

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Marketing Proposal Presentation [LaunchPad]



   ■ Tech Tip: How To Create a Gantt Chart

Sample Internal Proposal

Writer’s Checklist 


Case 11: Revising a Brief Proposal [LaunchPad]

12: Writing Informational Reports

■ Focus on Process: Writing Informational Reports

Writing Directives

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: High Plains Water-Level Monitoring Study [LaunchPad]

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: "Global Forest Change" Interactive Map [LaunchPad]

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Writing a Persuasive Directive

Writing Field Reports

   ■ Guidelines: Responding to Readers’ Questions in a Field Report

Writing Progress and Status Reports

   ■ Ethics Note: Reporting Your Progress Honestly

   Organizing Progress and Status Reports

   Concluding Progress and Status Reports

   ■ Guidelines: Projecting an Appropriate Tone in a Progress or Status Report

Sample Progress Report

Writing Incident Reports

Writing Meeting Minutes

Writer’s Checklist


Case 12: Writing a Directive About Using Agendas for Meetings [LaunchPad]

13: Writing Recommendation Reports

Understanding the Role of Recommendation Reports

Using a Problem-Solving Model for Preparing Recommendation Reports

   Identify the Problem or Opportunity

   Establish Criteria for Responding to the Problem or Opportunity

   Determine the Options

   Study Each Option According to the Criteria

   Draw Conclusions About Each Option

   Formulate Recommendations Based on the Conclusions

   ■ Ethics Note: Presenting Honest Recommendations

Writing Recommendation Reports

   Writing the Body of the Report

   ■ Guidelines: Writing Recommendations

   Writing the Front Matter

   ■ Tech Tip: How To Format Headers, Footers, and Page Numbers

   ■ Tech Tip: How To Create a Table of Contents

   ■ Guidelines: Writing an Executive Summary

   Writing the Back Matter

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Analyzing an Executive Summary

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Influenza 2010–2011: ACIP Vaccination Recommendations [LaunchPad]

Sample Recommendation Report

Writer’s Checklist


Case 13: Analyzing Decision Matrices [LaunchPad]

14: Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions

■ Focus on Process: Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions

Writing Definitions

   Analyzing the Writing Situation for Definitions

   ■ Choices and Strategies: Choosing the Appropriate Type of Definition

   Writing Sentence Definitions 

    ■ Guidelines: Writing Effective Sentence Definitions

   Writing Extended Definitions

Writing Descriptions

   Analyzing the Writing Situation for Descriptions 

   Drafting Effective Descriptions

   A Look at Several Sample Descriptions 

Writing Instructions

   Understanding the Role of Instructional Videos 

    Designing a Set of Written Instructions 

   ■ Guidelines: Designing Clear, Attractive Pages

   Planning for Safety

   ■ Ethics Note: Ensuring Your Readers’ Safety

   Drafting Effective Instructions 

   ■ Guidelines: Drafting Introductions for Instructions

   ■ Guidelines: Drafting Steps in Instructions

   Revising, Editing, and Proofreading Instructions 

   A Look at Several Sample Sets of Instructions 

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Presenting Clear Instructions

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Mechanism Description Using Interactive Graphics [LaunchPad]

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Process Description Using Video Animation [LaunchPad]

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Instructions Using Video Demonstration [LaunchPad]

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Instructions Using Video Screen Capture [LaunchPad]

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Instructions Using a Combination of Video Demonstration and Screen Capture [LaunchPad]

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Definition Using Video Animation [LaunchPad]

Writing Manuals

Writer’s Checklist


Case 14: Choosing a Medium for Presenting Instructions [LaunchPad]


15: Making Oral Presentations

■ Focus on Process: Preparing an Oral Presentation

Preparing the Presentation

   Analyzing the Speaking Situation

   Organizing and Developing the Presentation

   ■ Guidelines: Introducing and Concluding the Presentation

   Preparing Presentation Graphics 

   ■ Tech Tip: How To Create a Master Page Design in PowerPoint

   ■ Tech Tip: How To Set List Items To Appear and Dim During a Presentation

   Choosing Effective Language

   ■ Document Analysis Activity: Integrating Graphics and Text on a Presentation Slide

   ■ Guidelines: Using Memorable Language in Oral Presentations

   Rehearsing the Presentation

■ Thinking Visually: Delivering the Presentation

Answering Questions After a Presentation

   ■ Ethics Note: Answering Questions Honestly

Speaker’s Checklist


Case 15: Understanding the Claim-and-Support Structure for Presentation Graphics [LaunchPad]


Appendix: Reference Handbook

A: Documenting Your Sources

Note Taking

   APA Style

   IEEE Style

   MLA Style

B: Editing and Proofreading Your Documents



   Proofreading Symbols and Their Meanings



Selected Sample Documents and Examples

Index of Features

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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