Technical Writing: Principles, Strategies, and Readings

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  • Edition: 5th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2003-01-01
  • Publisher: Longman
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This book retains the flexible combination of instructional chapters and readings to reflect the variety of emphases in technical writing today. Instructional chapters offer a comprehensive presentation of technical communication, while articles from professional journals, which constitute about one-third of the book, offer insight and advice on specific communication topics. These readings also introduce the reader to important subjects related to technical writing not usually addressed in introductory books. Each concise and self-contained instructional unit includes extended models and exercises. Those who use technical writing as part of their career in science, business, engineering, social services, and technical fields will find this book particularly useful. The book's easy to read format makes it especially popular with non-native speakers of English. Contains 10 new readings on ethics, electronic communication, international communication, and the job search.

Table of Contents

Readings marked with an asterisk (*) indicate selections new to this edition.



1. Technical Writing on the Job.
Writing in Organizations.
Writing as a Process.

2. Collaboration and Ethics.
Writing with Others.
Writing Ethically.

3. Audience.
Analyzing Readers.
Finding Out About Readers.
Testing Reader-Oriented Documents.

4. Organization.
Sorting Information.
Constructing Outlines.
Developing Effective Paragraphs.

5. Revision.
Creating a Final Draft.
Making Global Revisions.
Making Fine-Tuning Revisions.
Revising for the Web.

6. Document Design.
Understanding Design Features.
Creating Graphic Aids.
Using Format Elements.

7. Definition.
Understanding Definitions.
Writing Informal Definitions.
Writing Formal Sentence Definitions.
Writing Expanded Definitions.
Placing Definitions in Documents.

8. Description.
Understanding Description.
Planning Descriptions.
Writing Descriptions.

9. Instructions, Procedures, and Process Explanations.
Understanding Instructions, Procedures, and Process Explanations.
Writing Instructions.
Writing Procedures.
Writing Process Explanations.

10. Formal Report Elements.
Selecting Formal Report Elements.
Writing Front Matter.
Writing Back Matter.
Documenting Sources.

11. Short and Long Reports.
Understanding Reports.
Developing Short Reports.
Developing Long Reports.

12. Types of Reports.
Understanding Conventional Report Types.
Writing a Feasibility Study.
Writing an Incident Report.
Writing an Investigative Report.
Writing a Progress Report.
Writing a Trip Report.
Writing a Proposal.

13. Letters, Memos, and Email.
Understanding Letters, Memos, and Email.
Developing Effective Tone.
Organizing Letters and Memos.
Selecting Letter Format.
Selecting Memo Format.
Selecting Email Format.
Using the Fax.

14. Career Correspondence.
Looking for a Job.
Writing Résumés.
Writing Job-Application Letters.
Writing Other Job-Related Letters.

15. Oral Presentations.
Understanding Oral Presentations.
Organizing Oral Presentations.
Preparing for Oral Presentations.
Delivering Oral Presentations.
Using Visual Aids.
Joining a Team Presentation.
Facing International Audiences.

Appendix A: Guidelines for Grammar, Punctuation, and Mechanics.

Appendix B: Frequently Confused Words.

Appendix C: Internet Resources for Technical Communication.
Writing for the Web.
Oral Presentations.
Job Search.
Professional Associations.


Allen, L., and Voss, D. "Ethics in Technical Communication."
Bagin, C.B., and Van Doren, J. "How to Avoid Costly Proofreading Errors."
*Brody, M. "Visual, Vocal and Verbal Cues Can Make You More Effective."
Caher, J.M. "Technical Documentation and Legal Liability."
*Farrell, T. "Designing Help Text."
*Frazee, V. "Establishing Relations in Germany."
*Garhan, A. "ePublishing."
Graham, J.R. "What Skills Will You Need to Succeed?"
*Hagevik, S. "Behavioral Interviewing: Write a Story, Tell a Story."
Hartman, D.B., and Nantz, K.S. "Send the Right Messages About E-Mail."
Humphries, A.C. "Business Manners."
*Kostelnick, C., and Roberts, D.D. "Ethos."
McAdams, M. "It's All in the Links."
Messmer, M. "Prepare, Listen, Follow up."
Munter, M. "Meeting Technology: From Low-Tech to High-Tech."
Nielsen, J. "Be Succinct! (Writing for the Web)."
*Nielsen, J. "Drop-Down Menus: Use Sparingly."
Porter, J.E. "Ideology and Collaboration in the Classroom and in the Corporation."
"ResumeMaker's 25 Tips—Interviewing."
Robinson, J. "6 Tips for Talking Technical When Your Audience Isn't."
*Smith, G.M. "Eleven Commandments for Business Meeting Etiquette."
*"Web Design & Usability Guidelines."
*Weiss, E. "Taking Your Presentation Abroad."
White, J.V. "Color: The Newest Tool for Technical Communicators."
Wicclair, M.R., and Farkas, D.K. "Ethical Reasoning in Technical Communication: A Practical Framework."

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