Technical Communication

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  • Edition: 9th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-02-03
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
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Comprehensive and truly accessible,Technical Communicationguides students through planning, drafting, and designing the documents that will matter in their professional lives. Known for his student-friendly voice and eye for technology trends, Mike Markel addresses the realities of the digital workplace through fresh samples and cases, practical writing advice, and a companion Web site TechComm Web that continues to set the standard with content developed and maintained by the author. The text is also available in a convenient, affordable e-book format.

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.

Table of Contents

Preface for Instructors
Preface for Writers
Part One: Understanding the Technical Communication Environment
1. Introduction to Technical Communication
      What is Technical Communication?
      Who Produces Technical Documents?
      Technical Communication and Your Career
      Characteristics of Technical Documents
          Addresses Particular Readers
          Helps Readers Solve Problems
          Reflects an Organization's Goals and Culture
          Is Produced Collaboratively
          Uses Design to Increase Readability
          Consistes of Words or Graphics or Both
                Interactive Sample Document: Studying How Technical Communication Combines Words and Graphics
      A Look at Three Sample Documents
      Measures of Excellence in Technical Communication
            Professional Appearance
      Exercises * CASE 1: Judging Entries in a Technical Communication Competition
2. Understanding Ethical and Legal Considerations
      A Brief Introduction to Ethics
      Your Ethical Obligations
            Obligations to Your Employer
            Obligations to the Public
            Obligations to the Environment
      Your Legal Obligations
            Copyright Law
                  Guidelines: Determining Fair use
                  Guidelines: Dealing with Copyright Questions
                   Ethics Note: Distinguishing Plagiarism from Acceptable Re-Use of Information
            Trademark Law
                  Guidelines: Protecting Trademarks
            Contract Law
            Liability Law
                  Guidelines: Abiding by Liability Laws
      The Role of Corporate Culture in Ethical and Legal Conduct
                  Interactive Sample Document: Dealing with Copyright Questions
      Communicating Ethically Across Cultures
            Communicating with Cultures with Different Ethical Beliefs
            Communicating with Cultures with Different Laws
      Principles for Ethical Communication
            Abide by Relevant Laws
            Abide by the Appropriate Professional Code of Conduct
            Take Advantage of Your Employer's Ethics Resources
            Tell the Truth
            Don't Mislead Your Readers
            Use Design to Highlight Important Ethical and Legal Information
            Be Clear
            Avoid Discriminatory Language
            Acknowledge Assistance from Others
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 2: Playing the Name Game
3. Writing Technical Documents
            Analyzing Your Audience
            Analyzing Your Purpose
            Generating Ideas About Your Subject
            Researching Additional Information
            Organizing and Outlining Your Document
                   Tech Tip: How to Use Outliine View
            Selecting an Application, a Design, and a Delivery Method
            Devising a Schedule and a Budget
                  Guidelines: Drafting Effectively
            Using Templates
                  Tech Tip: How to Modify Templates
                  Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing a Code of Conduct
            Using Styles
                  Tech Tip: How to Use the Styles Group 
            Studying the Draft by Yourself
            Seeking Help from Others
                  Ethics Note: Acknowledge Reviewers Responsibly
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 3: Using Revision Software Effectively       
4. Writing Collaboratively
      Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaboration
            Advantages of Collaboration
            Disadvantages of Collaboration
      Managing Projects
                  Guidelines: Managing Your Project
      Conducting Meetings
            Listening Effectively
                  Guidelines: Listening Effectively
            Setting Your Group's Agenda
                  Guidelines: Setting Your Agenda
                  Ethics Note: Pulling Your Weight on Collaborative Projects
            Conducting Efficient Face-to-Face Meetings
            Communicating Diplomatically
                  Guidelines: Communicating Diplomatically
            Critiquing a Group Member's Work
                  Guidelines: Critiquing a Colleague's Work  
      Using Electronic Tools in Collaboration
            Using the Comment, Revision, and Highlighting Features on a Word Processor
                  Tech Tip: How to Use the Review Tab
                  Interactive Sample Document: Critiquing a Draft Clearly and Diplomatically
            Using Groupware
      Using Videoconferencing Technology
                  Guidelines: Participating in a Videoconference
      Gender and Collaboration
      Culture and Collaboration
      Collaborator's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 4: Handling Interpersonal Conflict       
Part Two: Planning the Document
5. Analyzing Your Audience and Purpose
      Determining the Important Characteristics of Your Audience
            Who Are Your Readers?
            Why is Your Audience Reading Your Document?
            What Are Your Readers' Attitudes and Expectations?
            How Will Your Readers Use Your Document?
      Techniques for Learning about an Audience
            Tallying What You Do and Do Not Already Know about Your Audience
            Interviewing People
            Searching for Information on the Internet
            Reading Documents Your Readers Have Written
      Applying What You Have Learned about Your Audience
      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
                  Ethics Note: Meeting Your Readers' Needs Responsibly
                  Interactive Sample Document: Examining Cultural Variables in a Business Letter
            Using Graphics and Design for Multicultural Readers
      Using an Audience Profile Sheet
      Writing for Multiple Audiences
      Determining Your Purpose
      Gaining Management's Approval
      Revising Information for a New Audience and Purpose
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 5: Planning an Apology to a Customer from the People's Republic of China
6. Researching Your Subject
      Understanding the Differences Between Academic and Workplace Research
      Understanding the Research Process
      Choosing Appropriate Research Methods
                  Guidelines: Researching a Topic
      Conducting Secondary Research
            Understanding the Research Media
            Using Basic Research Tools
            Researching Government Information
            Using Web 2.0 Resources
            Evaluating the Information
                  Guidelines: Evaluating Print and Online Sources
                  Interactive Sample Document: Evaluating Information from the Internet    
      Conducting Primary Research
            Observations and Demonstrations
            Field Research
                  Guidelines: Conducting an Interview
            Inquiry letters or E-mails
                  Guidelines: Reporting and Analyzing Data Honestly
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 6: Choosing an Appropriate Primary Research Method
7. Organizing Your Information
      Understanding Three Principles for Organizing Technical Information
            Analyzing Your Audience and Purpose
            Using Conventional Patterns of Arrangement
            Displaying Your Arrangement Prominently
      Using Basic Patterns of Organizing Information
                  Guidelines: Organizing Information Chronologically
                  Guidelines: Organizing Information Spatially
            General to Specific
                  Guidelines: Organizing Information from General to Specific
            More Important to Less Important
                  Guidelines: Organizing Information from More Important to Less Important
            Comparison and Contrast
                  Guidelines: Organizing Information by Comparison and Contrast 
                  Ethics Note: Comparing and Contrasting Fairly
                  Interactive Sample Documentl Comparing and Contrasting Honestly
            Classification and Partition
                  Guidelines: Organizing Information by Classification and Partition
                  Guidelines: Organizing Information by Problem-Methods-Solution
            Cause and Effect
                  Guidelines: Organizing Information by Cause and Effect
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 7: Organizing a Document 
Part Three: Developing and Testing the Verbal and Visual Information
8. Commuicating Persuasively
      Considering the Context of Your Argument
            Understanding Your Audience's Broader Goals
            Working Within Constraints
      Crafting a Persuasive Argument
            Identifying the Elements of Your Argument
            Using the Right Kinds of Evidence
                  Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing Evidence in Argument
            Considering Opposing Viewpoints
            Appealing to Emotions Responsibly
            Deciding Where to Present the Claim
      Avoiding Logical Fallacies
      Presenting Yourself Effectively
                  Guidelines: Creating a Professional Persona
      Using Graphics and Design as Persuasive Elements
                  Ethics Note: Seeming Honest versus Being Honest in Persuasive Writing
      A Look at Several Persuasive Arguments
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 8: Being Persuasive about Privacy
9. Writing Coherent Documents
      Writing Coherent Titles
      Writing Coherent Headings
                  Guidelines: Revising Headings
      Writing Coherent Lists
      Writing Coherent Paragraphs
            Structure Paragraphs Clearly
                  Ethics Note: Avoiding Burying Bad News in Paragraphs
                  Guidelines: Dividing Long Paragraphs
            Use Coherence Devices Within and Between Paragraphs
                  Interactive Sample Document: Identifying the Elements of a Coherent Paragraph
      Creating a Coherent Design
            Using Headers and Footers to Enhance Coherence
            Use Typeface to Enhance Coherence
                  Tech Tip: How to Use the Style Group
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 9: Writing Guidelines About Coherence
10. Writing Effective Sentences
      Structuring Effective Sentences
            Use Lists
                  Guidelines: Creating Effective Lists
                  Tech Tip: How to Create Bulleted and Numbered Lists
            Emphasize New and Important Information
            Choose an Appropriate Sentence Length
            Focus on the "Real" Subject
            Focus on the "Real" Verb
            Use Parallel Structures
            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
                  Interactive Sample Document: Revising for Conciseness and Simplicity
            Use Inoffensive Language
                  Guidelines: Avoiding Sexist Language
                  Guidelines: Using the People-First Approach
      Understanding Simplified English for Nonnative Speakers
      Preparing Text for Translation
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 10: Preparing Products for the Global Marketplace
11. Designing Documents and Web Sites
      Goals of Document and Web Design
      Understanding Design Principles
      Planning the Design of Documents and Web Sites
            Analyze Your Audience and Purpose
            Determine Your Resources
      Designing Documents
            Accessing Tools
                  Tech Tip: How to Set Up Pages
      Designing Pages
                  Guidelines: Understanding Learning Theory and Page Design
            Page Layout
                  Tech Tip: How to Format Columns
                  Tech Tip: How to Format Fonts
                  Ethics Note: Using Type Sizes Responsibly
                  Tech Tip: How to Modify Line Spacing
                  Tech Tip: How To Modify Justification
            Titles and Headings
            Other Design Features
                  Tech Tip: How to Create Borders and Screens
                  Tech Tip: How to Create Text Boxes
      Analyzing Some Page Designs
                  Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing a Page Design
      Designing Web Sites
            Create Informative Headers and Footers
            Help Readers Navigate the Site
                  Guidelines: Making Your Site Easy to Navigate
            Include Extra Features Your Readers Might Need
            Design for Readers with Disabilities
            Design for Multicultural Audiences
                  Ethics Note: Designing Legal and Honest Web Pages
      Designing Web Pages
            Aim for Simplicity
                  Guidelines: Designing a Simple Site
            Make the Text Easy to Read and Understand
                  Guidelines: Designing Easy-to-Read Text
            Create Clear, Informative Links
                  Guidelines: Writing Clear, Informative Links
      Analyzing Some Web Pages
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 11: Designing a Report Template
12. Creating Graphics
      The Functions of Graphics
      Characteristics of an Effective Graphic
                  Ethics Note: Creating Honest Graphics
                  Guidelines: Integrating Graphics and Text
      Understanding the Process of Creating Graphics
            Planning Graphics
            Creating Graphics
                  Tech Tip: How to Insert and Modify Graphics
            Revising Graphics
            Citing Graphics
      Using Color Effectively
      Choosing the Appropriate Kind of Graphic
            Illustrating Numerical Information
                  Guidelines: Creating Effective Tables
                  Tech Tip: How to Use Tab Stops
                  Tech Tip: How to Create Tables
                  Tech Tip: How to Create Graphics in Excel
                  Guidelines: Creating Effective Bar Graphics
                  Tech Tip: How to Use Drawing Tools
                  Interactive Sample Document: Balancing Clarity and Drama in Graphics
                  Guidelines: Creating Effective Line Graphics
                  Guidelines: Creating Effective Pie Charts
            Illustrating Logical Relationships
            Illustrating Process Descriptions and Instructions
            Illustrating Visual and Spatial Characteristics
                  Guidelines: Presenting Photographs Effectively
                  Tech Tip: How to Create Screen Shots
            Showing Motion in Your Graphics
            Creating Effective Graphics for Multicultural Readers
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 12: Evaluating Graphics Made in a Spreadsheet Program
13. Reviewing, Evaluating, and Testing Documents and Web Sites
      Reviewing Documents and Web Sites
                  Guidelines: Editing the Draft
      Conducting Usability Evaluations
      Conducting Usability Tests
            The Basic Principles of Usability Testing
            Preparing for a Usability Test
            Conducting a Usability Test
            Interpreting and Reporting the Data from a Usability Test
                  Ethics Note: Understanding the Ethics of Informed Consent
                  Interactive Sample Document: Obtaining Informed Consent
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 13: Reviewing and Testing Documents
Part Four: Learning Important Applications
14. Writing Letters, Memos, and E-mails
      Understanding the Process for Writing Letters, Memos, and E-mails
      Selecting 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
            Understanding the Elements of a Letter
            Learning the Format of a Letter
            Understanding Common Types of Letters
      Writing Memos
                  Guidelines: Organizing a Memo
      Writing E-mails
                  Guidelines: Following Netiquette
                  Interactive Sample Document: Following Netiquette in an E-mail
      Writing Business Correspondence to International Readers
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 14: Projecting the "You Attitude" When Corresponding with Customers and Colleagues
15. Preparing Job-Application Materials
      Understanding the Process for Preparing Job-Application Materials
      Planning the Job Search
      Understanding Seven Ways to Look for a Position
      Understanding the Risks and Benefits of Social-networking Sites and the Job Search
      Writing Paper Résumés
            Appearance of the Résumé
            Content of the Résumé
                  Ethics Note: Honesty in Job-Application Materials
            Elements of the Chronological Résumé
                  Guidelines: Elaborating on Your Education
            Elements of the Skillls Résumé
      Writing Electronic Résumés
            Content of the Electronic Résumé
            Format of the Electronic Résumé
                  Guidelines: Preparing a Text Résumé
                  Interactive Sample Document: Preparing an ASCII Résumé
                  Guidelines: Preparing a Scannable Résumé
      Writing Job-Application Letters
            The Concepts of Selectivity and Development
            Elements of the Job-Application Letter
      Preparing for a Job Interview
                  Guidelines: Preparing for a Job Interview
      Writing Follow-Up Letters After an Interview
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 15: Identifying Trasferable Skills for a Career Changer 
16. Writing Proposals
      Understanding the Process for Writing Proposals
      The Logistics of Proposals
            External and Internal 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
      Writing a Proposal
      The Structure of the Proposal
                  Guidelines: Introducing a Proposal
            Proposed Program
            Qualifications and Expertise
                  Tech Tip: How to Create a Gantt Chart
      Sample Internal Proposal
                  Interactive Sample Document: Writing a Project Description
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 16: Selecting a Funding Source
17. Writing Informational Reports
      Understanding the Process of Writing Informational Reports
      Writing Directives
                  Interactive Sample Document: 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 * Exercises * CASE 17: Revising an Injury Report Form 
18. Writing Lab Reports
      Persuasion and Lab Reports
      Understanding the Process of Writing Lab Reports
      Understanding the Structure of the Lab Report
                  Guidelines: Writing Equations
            Materials and Methods
                  Ethics Note: Presenting Data Honestly
                  Interactive Sample Document: Evaluating Lab Reports
      Understanding the Role of Science and Engineering Articles
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 18: Describing the Purpose of Lab Report Sections
19. Writing 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 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
                  Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing an Executive Summary
            Writing Back Matter
      Sample Recommendation Report
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 19: Analyzing Options and Drawing Conclusions
20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions
      Writing Definitions
            Analyzing the Writing Situation for Definitions
            Determining the Kind of Definition to Write
                  Guidelines: Writing Effective Sentence Definitions
                  Guidelines: Writing Extended Definitions
            Deciding Where to Place the Definition
      Writing Descriptions
            Analyzing the Writing Situation for Descriptions
            Clearly Indicate the Nature and Scope of the Description
            Introduce the Description Clearly
            Provide Appropriate Detail
                  Guidelines: Providing Appropriate Detail in Descriptions
            Conclude the Description
            A Look at Several Descriptions
      Writing Instructions
            Designing a Set of Instructions
                  Guidelines: Designing Clear, Attractive Pages
            Planning for Safety
                  Ethics Note: Protecting Your Readers' Safety
            Drafting Effective Instructions
                  Guidelines: Drafting Introductions for Instructions
                  Guidelines: Drafting Steps in Instructions
            Revising, Editing, and Proofreading Instructions
            A Look at Sample Instructions
                  Interactive Sample Document: Presenting Clear Instructions
      Writing Manuals
      Writer's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 20: Writing Instructions for Installing a Programmable Thermostat
21. Making Oral Presentations
      Understanding the Role of Oral Presentations
      Understanding the Process for Preparing and Delivering an Oral Presentation
      Preparing a Presentation
            Analyzing the Speaking Situation
            Organizing and Developing the Presentation
                  Guidelines: Introducing a Presentation
                  Guidelines: Concluding a 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
                  Interactive Sample Document: Integrating Graphics and Text on a Presentation Slide
            Choosing Effective Language
                  Guidelines: Using Memorable Language in Oral Presentations
            Rehearsing a Presentation
      Delivering a Presentation
            Calming Your Nerves
                  Guidelines: Releasing Nervous Energy
            Using Your Voice Effectively
            Using Your Body Effectively
                  Guidelines: Facing an Audience
      Answering Questions After a Presentation
                  Ethics Note: Answering Questions Honestly
      Speaker's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 21: Choosing Effective Slide Layouts 
22. Connecting with the Public
      Persuasion and Connecting with the Public
      Presenting Information to the Public
                  Guidelines: Designing an Effective Newsletter
                  Interactive Sample Document: Designing an Effective Newsletter
                  Guidelines: Creating a Brochure
            White Papers
                   Guidelines: Writing a White Paper
                   Ethics Note: Marketing Your Organization Honestly
      Collaborating with the Public
            Discussion Boards
                  Guidelines: Participating in Discussion Boards
                  Guidelines: Being a Responsible Blogger
                  Guidelines: Using and Participating in Wikis Effectively
      Communicator's Checklist * Exercises * CASE 22: Responding to Anti-Employer Blog Posts
Appendix: Reference Handbook
Part A. Skimming Your Sources and Taking Notes
Part B. Documenting Your Sources
      APA Style
      CSE Style
      IEEE Style
      MLA Style
Part C. Editing and Proofreading Your Documents
      Grammatical Sentences
      Proofreading Symbols and Their Meanings
Part D. Guidelines for Multilingual Writers (ESL)
      Cultural and Stylistic Communication Issues
      Sentence-Level Issues
Selected Bibliography

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