Practical Strategies for Technical Communication
Third EditionMike Markel; Stuart A. Selber©2019
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An accessible guide on your journey from the classroom to the workplace
As you enter the working world, you’ll need to keep pace with successful strategies for communication, whether that communication is happening through chat, email, social media, across cultures or across the hall. Practical Strategies for Technical Communication is here to help, with a concise, accessible guide to everything you need to know about considering your audience, document design, research, and style. The new edition covers nontraditional resume formats, usability testing, and includes a host of newly updated Tech Tips to common digital tools. Purchase the book’s LaunchPad to get the most resources for the best value, including the complete ebook and study tools.
Table of Contents
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 Exercises 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 Videoconferencing ■ 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 Exercises 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 Exercises 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 Inspections Experiments Field Research Interviews ■ Guidelines: Conducting an Interview Inquiries Questionnaires ■ Choices and Strategies: Choosing Types of Questions for Questionnaires ■ Ethics Note: Reporting and Analyzing Data Honestly Writer's Checklist Exercises LearningCurve: Researching Your Subject [LaunchPad] Case 5: Revising a Questionnaire [LaunchPad]
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
■ Document Analysis Activity: Revising for Conciseness and Simplicity
Use Inoffensive Language
■ Guidelines: Avoiding Sexist Language
■ Guidelines: Using the People-First Approach
LearningCurve: Organizing and Emphasizing Information [LaunchPad]
LearningCurve: Writing Correct and Effective Sentences [LaunchPad]
Case 6a: Emphasizing Important Information in a Technical Description [LaunchPad]
6: Writing for Your Readers
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 Proximity Alignment Repetition Contrast 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 Columns Typography 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 Exercises 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 Exercises 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 Exercises Case 9: Setting Up and Maintaining a Professional Microblog Account [LaunchPad]
10: Applying for a Job 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
Writing Résumés■ Guidelines: Using LinkedIn’s Employment Features 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]
Considering Nontraditional Résumés
■ Guidelines: Planning a Nontraditional RésuméWriting Job-Application Letters Writing Follow-up Letters or Emails After an Interview Writer’s Checklist Exercises 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 Summary Introduction ■ Guidelines: Introducing a Proposal Proposed Program Qualifications and Experience ■ Document Analysis Activity: Writing the Proposed Program ■ Document Analysis Activity: Marketing Proposal Presentation [LaunchPad] Budget Appendixes ■ Tech Tip: How To Create a Gantt Chart Sample Internal Proposal Writer’s Checklist Exercises 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 Exercises 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 Exercises 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
■ Guidelines: Providing Appropriate Detail in DescriptionsWriting 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
■ Guidelines: Testing Instructions for UsabilityA 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 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 Exercises 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 Exercises 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 Punctuation Mechanics Proofreading Symbols and Their Meanings References Index Selected Sample Documents and Examples Index of Features