Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Technical and Professional Writing Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Articles 1 - 30 of 43

Full-Text Articles in Technical and Professional Writing

16. Book Design Overview, David Mcmurray Mar 2016

16. Book Design Overview, David Mcmurray

Sexy Technical Communications

The following provides an overview of the typical components of a printed technical book and the typical content, format, style, and sequence of those components. Certainly, no single user guide, technical reference manual, quick-reference document, or other such document would actually have all of these components designed and sequenced in precisely the way you are about to read. Instead, this review will give an overview of the possibilities—let's say the range of possibilities. Before you begin reading the following, grab a number of hardware and software books so that you can compare their content, style, format, and sequencing ...


17. Common Page Design, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett Mar 2016

17. Common Page Design, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett

Sexy Technical Communications

Page design means different things to different people, but here it will mean the use of typography and formatting such as you see in professionally-designed documents. Our focus here is technical documentation, which implies modest, functional design.


18. Headings, David Mcmurray, Cassandra Race Mar 2016

18. Headings, David Mcmurray, Cassandra Race

Sexy Technical Communications

One of the most useful characteristics of technical writing is the use of headings. Headings are the titles and subtitles you see within the actual text of much professional scientific, technical, and business writing. Headings are like the parts of an outline that have been pasted into the actual pages of the document. Headings are an important feature of professional technical writing: they alert readers to upcoming topics and subtopics, help readers find their way around in long reports and skip what they are not interested in, and break up long stretches of straight text. They make text easy to ...


19. Bulleted And Numbered Lists, David Mcmurray Mar 2016

19. Bulleted And Numbered Lists, David Mcmurray

Sexy Technical Communications

Lists are useful because they emphasize selected information in regular text. When you see a list of three or four items strung out vertically on the page rather than in normal paragraph format, you are likely to pay more attention to it. Certain types of lists also make for easier reading. For example, in instructions, it is a big help for each step to be numbered and separate from the preceding and following steps. Lists also create more white space and spread out the text so that pages don't seem like solid walls of words. Like headings, the various ...


20. Special Notices, David Mcmurray, Tamara Powell Mar 2016

20. Special Notices, David Mcmurray, Tamara Powell

Sexy Technical Communications

Special notices are an important feature of professional technical writing: they highlight special information readers need to know to understand what they are reading, to accomplish what they want to do, to prevent damage to equipment, and to keep from hurting themselves or others. Your task in this section is to learn the different types of special notices, their uses, and formats.


21. Tables, Charts, Graphs, David Mcmurray, Tamara Powell Mar 2016

21. Tables, Charts, Graphs, David Mcmurray, Tamara Powell

Sexy Technical Communications

One of the nice things about technical writing courses is that most of the papers have graphics in them—or at least they should. A lot of professional, technical writing contains graphics—drawings, diagrams, photographs, illustrations of all sorts, tables, pie charts, bar charts, line graphs, flow charts, and so on. Graphics are important in technical communication. We learn more from a document when graphics are included (Gatlin, 1988). In fact, people learn about 1/3 more from a document with graphics than without (Levie and Lentz, 1982). A recent study found that readers learn faster and are better able ...


4. Business Plans, David Mcmurray Mar 2016

4. Business Plans, David Mcmurray

Sexy Technical Communications

A business plan is a document used to start a new business or get funding for a business that is changing in some significant way. Business plans are important documents for business partners who need to agree upon their plans, government officials who need to approve that plan, and of course potential investors such as banks or private individuals who may fund the business. A business plan is very much like a proposal, except for at least one big difference. The business plan seeks to start a new business or significantly expand an existing business. A proposal, on the other ...


5. Proposals, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett Mar 2016

5. Proposals, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett

Sexy Technical Communications

This chapter focuses on the proposal—the kind of document that gets you or your organization approved or hired to do a project


10. Recommendation And Feasibility Reports, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett Mar 2016

10. Recommendation And Feasibility Reports, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett

Sexy Technical Communications

This chapter addresses a loosely defined group of report types that examine a situation, evaluate the evidence, and render a judgment. Some Rather Fine Distinctions... The reports in this loosely defined category are variously called feasibility reports, recommendation reports, evaluation reports, assessment reports, and who knows what else. They all do roughly the same thing—provide carefully studied opinions and, sometimes, recommendations. There are some subtle differences among some these types.


1. Introduction: The Nature Of Sexy Technical Writing, Cassandra Race Mar 2016

1. Introduction: The Nature Of Sexy Technical Writing, Cassandra Race

Sexy Technical Communications

Did you know that you probably read or create technical communication every day without even realizing it? If you noticed signs on your way to work, checked the calories on the cereal box, emailed your professor to request a recommendation or followed instructions to make a withdrawal from an ATM, you have been involved with technical, workplace, or professional communication. So what? You ask. Today, writing is a more important skill for professionals than ever before. The National Commission on Writing for Americas Families, Schools, and Colleges (2004) declares that writing today is not a frill for the few, but ...


13. Oral Presentations, David Mcmurray, Cassandra Race Mar 2016

13. Oral Presentations, David Mcmurray, Cassandra Race

Sexy Technical Communications

A common assignment in technical writing courses—not to mention in the workplace—is to prepare and deliver an oral presentation, a task most of us would be happy to avoid. However, while employers look for coursework and experience in preparing written documents, they also look for experience in oral presentations as well. Look back at the first chapter. Remember how important interpersonal communication skills are in the workplace. The following was written for a standard face-to-face classroom setting. If you are taking the online version of Sexy Technical Writing, oral reports can be sent in as "scripts," or audio ...


7. Writing Instructions, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett Mar 2016

7. Writing Instructions, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett

Sexy Technical Communications

The focus for this chapter is one of the most important of all uses of technical writing—instructions. As you know, instructions are those step-by-step explanations of how to do something: how to build, operate, repair, or maintain things. When you finish this chapter you will be able to: Analyze and evaluate a set of technical instructions Write clear and accurate instructions with an introduction and conclusion Develop and design an instruction manual for a specific audience


8. User Guides, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett Mar 2016

8. User Guides, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett

Sexy Technical Communications

A user guide is essentially a book-length document containing instructions on installing, using, or troubleshooting a hardware or software product. A user guide can be very brief—for example, only 10 or 20 pages or it can be a full-length book of 200 pages or more. While this definition assumes computers, a user guide can provide operating instructions on practically anything—lawnmowers, microwave ovens, dishwashers, and so on. The more complex the product, the greater the page count. When this happens, some elements of the user guide get split out into their own separate volumes—especially the installation procedures, troubleshooting ...


34. Information Structures, David Mcmurray Mar 2016

34. Information Structures, David Mcmurray

Sexy Technical Communications

The main parts of a technical-writing course focus on applications—ways technical writing skills are applied in the real world. However, these applications use varying combinations of information infrastructures. An information infrastructure is (1) a type of information content (such as descriptive writing), (2) a way of organizing information (such as a comparison or classification), or (3) both. The information infrastructures reviewed in this appendix are the ones commonly used in technical writing. Of course, there are other infrastructures—maybe some that scholars of technical writing have not yet pinned a label on, but these are the most common and ...


33. Strategies For Peer-Reviewing And Team-Writing, David Mcmurray Mar 2016

33. Strategies For Peer-Reviewing And Team-Writing, David Mcmurray

Sexy Technical Communications

Peer reviewing (also called peer-editing) means people getting together to read, comment on, and recommend improvements on each other's work. Peer-reviewing is a good way to become a better writer because it provides experience in looking critically at writing. Team writing, as its name indicates, means people getting together to plan, write, and revise writing projects as a group, or team. Another name for this practice is collaborative writing—collaborative writing that is out in the open rather than under cover (where it is known as plagiarism).


35. Logic: Common Fallacies, Steve Miller, Cherie Miller Mar 2016

35. Logic: Common Fallacies, Steve Miller, Cherie Miller

Sexy Technical Communications

In the last chapter we discussed passages where bright individuals with PhDs violated common fallacies. Even the brightest among us fall for them. As a result, we should be ever vigilant to keep our critical guard up, looking for fallacious reasoning in lectures, reading, viewing, and especially in our own writing. None of us are immune to falling for fallacies. Until doctors come up with an inoculation against fallacies, I suppose the next best thing is to thoroughly acquaint ourselves with the most common fallacies. I chose the following fallacies by comparing a dozen or so university sites that list ...


37. Logic: Recognizing Fallacies, Steve Miller, Cherie Miller Mar 2016

37. Logic: Recognizing Fallacies, Steve Miller, Cherie Miller

Sexy Technical Communications

I often read comments on blog posts or articles or Facebook discussions which accuse the writer of committing a specific logical fallacy and thus declaring the argument thoroughly debunked, typically with an air of arrogant finality. While the debunker may feel quite smug, intelligent participants consider him quite sophomoric.*text annotation indicator In reality, he's typically failed to even remotely understand the argument, much less apply the fallacy in a way that's relevant to the discussion. Surely this fallacy deserves a proper name and should be listed with other fallacies. Thus I'll define "The Fallacy Fallacy" as ...


38. Usability Testing, Cassandra Race Mar 2016

38. Usability Testing, Cassandra Race

Sexy Technical Communications

I will never forget a Christmas Eve many years ago, when the kids were finally asleep and Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus began the assembly of the much desired "brand name" doll house. Out came the tools, out came a hundred or so tiny plastic parts, and out came an instruction sheet written by someone clearly from another land far away. After several hours of attempting to decipher some of the worst instructions ever written, we recruited a neighbor's 12 year old, a seasoned veteran in the world of dream houses, and the assembly was completed in time for ...


39. Collaborative Writing, Monique Logan Mar 2016

39. Collaborative Writing, Monique Logan

Sexy Technical Communications

Perhaps you are just beginning your collegiate career, or you may be finishing it up. Either way, whether you’re someone new to college or someone who has been around the block for a period of time, you’ve probably had some experience working in a group or on a team of some sort. You’ve probably been a part of an athletic or academic team. Perhaps not. Perhaps you have some group experience from being a cheerleader, a boy scout or girl scout or a member of the 4H Club. Either way, I’m sure you’re familiar with ...


24. Writing Process: From Audience To Rough Draft, David Mcmurray Mar 2016

24. Writing Process: From Audience To Rough Draft, David Mcmurray

Sexy Technical Communications

The writing process takes you from the very beginning of a writing project—finding topics and analyzing audience and purpose—all the way to the end—writing and revising the rough draft. The following chapters focus on some of the key phases of that process: Strategies for team-writing Audience Analysis Brainstorming and invention Narrowing Outlining Note-taking Libraries, Documentation, Cross-Referencing Strategies for Peer-Reviewing Power-Revision Techniques


40. Technical Editing, Jonathan Arnett Mar 2016

40. Technical Editing, Jonathan Arnett

Sexy Technical Communications

This chapter focuses on editing technical documents. In particular, this chapter will address some of the most common types of technical editing you can do, as well as processes, resources, and techniques you can use. Overview of technical editing General procedure for editing Contracts Levels of edit Editors' resources Strategies for writing comments Strategies for marking up technical materials Hard-copy editing marks Special ideas for editing visual materials Special ideas for editing websites


22. Graphics, David Mcmurray Mar 2016

22. Graphics, David Mcmurray

Sexy Technical Communications

One of the nice things about technical writing courses is that most of the papers have graphics in them—or at least they should. A lot of professional, technical writing contains graphics—drawings, diagrams, photographs, illustrations of all sorts, tables, pie charts, bar charts, line graphs, flow charts, and so on. Once you get the hang of putting graphics like these into your writing, you should consider yourself obligated to use graphics whenever the situation naturally would call for them. Unlike what you might fear, producing graphics is not such a terrible task—in fact, it's fun. You don ...


23. Help Desk: Creating An Index, Cassandra Race Mar 2016

23. Help Desk: Creating An Index, Cassandra Race

Sexy Technical Communications

In long technical documents, an index, or a list of almost everything in the document, is found at the end of the document. The index is a helpful tool for quickly locating information, and many readers expect it. There are several techniques for creating an index, but the most efficient and up to date is right at your fingertips. Microsoft Word allows you to create an index for a single word, a phrase, or even a symbol. You can also create an index item for a topic that covers several pages or paragraphs, or one that refers to another entry ...


43. Examples, Cases, And Models Index Mar 2016

43. Examples, Cases, And Models Index

Sexy Technical Communications

The following are links to the examples and models of the kinds reports, letters, and other documents discussed in this book. (Some of the items are excerpts.) True, many of these examples are as much as twenty years old. However, the point here is technical writing, format, organization, style—not up-to-date technology. Even so, why not write a technology update on blood glucose monitoring systems, voice recognition software, laptop computers, wind power systems?


42. Standard Operating Policies And Procedures, David Mcmurray, Tamara Powell Mar 2016

42. Standard Operating Policies And Procedures, David Mcmurray, Tamara Powell

Sexy Technical Communications

This chapter introduces you to policies and procedure documents and to standard operating procedure documents. Click on the links, below, to see samples.

Hand-washing policies for health care personnel

Accounting policies and procedures

Standard operating procedures: pouring dental impressions


41. Introduction To Html, Tiffani Reardon Mar 2016

41. Introduction To Html, Tiffani Reardon

Sexy Technical Communications

At the end of this chapter and the practice activities, readers will be able to: Goal 1: define HTML and identify what it stands for Goal 2: build a simple web page using HTML coding Objective 1: identify and use common HTML tags Objective 2: explain and apply basic tag rules Objective 3: explain attributes and use them to stylize text and images Objective 4: embed videos and other embeddable items into HTML web pages Goal 3: identify websites where readers can learn more and practice their HTML skills


31. Common Grammar, Usage, And Punctuation Problems, David Mcmurray Mar 2016

31. Common Grammar, Usage, And Punctuation Problems, David Mcmurray

Sexy Technical Communications

In this chapter, we will cover only those grammar, punctuation, usage, and spelling problems that give people the biggest headaches. Technical writing professionals try to simplify grammar rules as much as possible without hurting the language or putting themselves in straitjackets. Typically, they work in teams and frequently move in and out of projects—so that the same document may be worked on by different writers and editors during the space of just a few years. That's why any guidelines based on interpretation or personal style or judgment must be avoided.


30. Basic Patterns And Elements Of The Sentence, David Mcmurray Mar 2016

30. Basic Patterns And Elements Of The Sentence, David Mcmurray

Sexy Technical Communications

This section is a quick review of the fundamentals of the sentence. If you encounter unfamiliar terminology in this textbook or in your class, refer to this section for help. For more on sentence grammar, see English Fundamentals by Emery, Kierzek, and Lindblom (Macmillan) for a thorough discussion of sentence grammar, along with exercises.


27. Articulating Technical Information, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett, Tamara Powell Mar 2016

27. Articulating Technical Information, David Mcmurray, Jonathan Arnett, Tamara Powell

Sexy Technical Communications

The ability to explain complex, technical matters with ease, grace, and simplicity so that nonspecialist readers understand almost effortlessly is one of the most important skills you can develop as a technical writer. This ability to "translate" or articulate difficult-to-read technical discussions is important because so much of technical writing is aimed at nonspecialist audiences. These audiences include important people such as supervisors, executives, investors, financial officers, government officials, and, of course, customers. This chapter provides you with some strategies for articulating technical discussions, that is, specific strategies you can use to make difficult technical discussions easier for nonspecialist readers ...


29. Searching Libraries, Documenting Borrowed Information, And Cross-Referencing, David Mcmurray, Cassandra Race Mar 2016

29. Searching Libraries, Documenting Borrowed Information, And Cross-Referencing, David Mcmurray, Cassandra Race

Sexy Technical Communications

This section in this appendix focuses on: Libraries—Finding information libraries Documentation—Indicating sources of borrowed information Cross-referencing—Pointing to other information in your own documents and those of others.