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Overview

Through clear advice and an accessible visual design, Mike Markel’s Technical Communication models the principles it teaches, offering practical strategies that students can put to use right away. Using a student-friendly voice, Mike Markel shows writers how to tackle the major types of documents and writing situations they will encounter in their professional lives. Excellent and always fresh sample documents and examples demonstrate effective techniques and offer plenty of opportunities for analysis, while interactive cases provide engaging scenarios for writing practice. The new edition incorporates the latest workplace and technology trends, offering new advice for how and why to use social media effectively in technical communication.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
An introductory text in technical writing and communication, with chapters on planning the document, revising, and writing applications such as manuals and proposals. Includes chapter exercises and checklists, and interviews with technical communicators and technical professionals, plus a style handbook. This fourth edition covers emerging issues such as research on the Internet, and contains new material on usability testing, collaborative writing, and graphics, plus an appendix of guidelines for ESL speakers. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781457633621
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's
  • Publication date: 6/6/2012
  • Series: Budget Bks.
  • Edition description: Tenth Edition
  • Edition number: 10
  • Pages: 832
  • Sales rank: 598,674
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents

* New to this edition
 
Preface for Instructors
Introduction for Writers
 
PART 1: Understanding the Technical Communication Environment
 
1.  Introduction to Technical Communication
What Is Technical Communication?
*What Are Your Roles as a Communicator?
Technical Communication and Your Career
Characteristics of a Technical Document
  Addresses Particular Readers
  Helps Readers Solve Problems
  Reflects the Organization’s Goals and Culture
  Is Produced Collaboratively
  Uses Design to Increase Readability
  Consists of Words or Images or Both
  -Interactive Sample Document: Studying How Technical Communication Combines Words, 
   Graphics, and Design
A Look at Three Sample Documents
Measures of Excellence in Technical Communication
  Honesty
  Clarity
  Accuracy
  Comprehensiveness
  Accessibility
  Conciseness
  Professional Appearance
  Correctness
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 1: Using the Measures of Excellence in Evaluating a Résumé
 
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 Reuse 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: Linking Values and Conduct
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
  *Abide by Your Organization’s Policy on Social Media
  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: The Ethics of Requiring That Students Subsidize a Plagiarism-Detection Service

3.  Writing Technical Documents
Planning
  Analyzing Your Audience
  Analyzing Your Purpose
  Generating Ideas About Your Subject
  Researching Additional Information
  Organizing and Outlining Your Document

  -Tech Tip: How to Use the Outline View
  Selecting an Application, a Design, and a Delivery Method
  Devising a Schedule and a Budget
Drafting
  -Guidelines: Drafting Effectively
  Using Templates
  -Tech Tip: How to Modify Templates
  -Interactive Sample Document: Identifying the Strengths and Weaknesses of a Commercial 
   Template
  Using Styles
  -Tech Tip: How to Use the Styles Group
Revising
  Studying the Draft by Yourself
  Seeking Help from Others
  -Ethics Note: Acknowledging Reviewers Responsibly
Editing
Proofreading
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 3: Understanding Why Revision Software Cannot Revise and Edit Your Document

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 Team’s Agenda
  -Guidelines: Setting Your Team’s Agenda
  -Ethics Note: Pulling Your Weight on Collaborative Projects
  Conducting Efficient Meetings
  Communicating Diplomatically
  -Guidelines: Communicating Diplomatically
  Critiquing a Team Member’s Work
  -Guidelines: Critiquing a Colleague’s Work
*Using Your Word Processor as a Collaboration Tool
  -Tech Tip: How to Use the Review Tab
  -Interactive Sample Document: Critiquing a Draft Clearly and Diplomatically
*Using Other Electronic Tools in Collaboration
  *Messaging Technologies
  *Videoconferencing
  -Guidelines: Participating in a Videoconference
  *Wikis and Shared Document Workspaces
  *Virtual Worlds
 *-Ethics Note: Maintaining a Professional Presence Online
Gender and Collaboration
Culture and Collaboration
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 4: Accommodating a Team Member’s Scheduling Problems
 
PART 2: Planning the Document
 
5.  Analyzing Your Audience and Purpose
Using an Audience Profile Sheet
Determining the Important Characteristics of Your Audience
  Who Are Your Readers?
  Why Is Your Audience Reading Your Document?
  What Are Your Readers’ Attitude and Expectations?
  How Will Your Readers Use Your Document?
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
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
  -Interactive Sample Document: Examining Cultural Variables in a Business Letter
Applying What You Have Learned About Your Audience
  -Ethics Note: Meeting Your Readers’ Needs Responsibly
Using Graphics and Design for Multicultural Readers
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: Reaching Out to a New Audience
 
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 Traditional Research Tools
 *Using Social Media and Other Interactive Resources
  Evaluating the Information

  -Guidelines: Evaluating Print and Online Sources
  -Interactive Sample Document: Evaluating Information from Internet Sources
Conducting Primary Research
  Observations and Demonstrations
  Inspections
  Experiments
  Field Research
  Interviews
  -Guidelines: Conducting an Interview
  Inquiries
  Questionnaires
  -Ethics Note: Reporting and Analyzing Data Honestly
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 6: Revising a Questionnaire
 
7.  Organizing Your Information
Understanding Three Principles for Organizing Technical Information
  Analyzing Your Audience and Purpose
  Using Conventional Patterns of Organization
  Displaying Your Organizational Pattern Prominently
Using Basic Organizational Patterns
  Chronological
  -Guidelines: Organizing Information Chronologically
  Spatial
  -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 Document: Comparing and Contrasting Honestly
  Classification and Partition
  -Guidelines: Organizing Information by Classification or Partition
  Problem-Methods-Solution
  -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 for Clarity—and Diplomacy

PART 3: Developing and Testing the Verbal and Visual Information
 
8.  Communicating 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 an Argument
  Considering Opposing Viewpoints
  Appealing to Emotions Responsibly
  Deciding Where to Present the Claim
 *Understanding the Role of Culture in Persuasion
Avoiding Logical Fallacies
Presenting Yourself Effectively
  -Guidelines: Creating a Professional Persona
Using Graphics 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: Analyzing the Fitness of Arguments
 
9.  Writing Coherent Documents
*Reviewing the Whole Document for Coherence
Writing Coherent Titles
Writing Coherent Headings
  -Guidelines: Revising Headings
Writing Coherent Lists
Writing Coherent Paragraphs
  Structuring Paragraphs Clearly
  -Ethics Note: Avoiding Burying Bad News in Paragraphs
  -Guidelines: Dividing Long Paragraphs
  Using 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
  Using Typefaces to Enhance Coherence
  -Tech Tip: How to Modify and Create Styles
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 9: Highlighting the Coherence of a Passage
 
10. Writing Effective Sentences
Structuring Effective Sentences
  Use Lists
  -Guidelines: Creating Effective Lists
  -Tech Tip: How to Create Numbered and Bulleted Lists
  Emphasize New and Important Information
  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
  -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: Revising a Document for Nonnative Speakers and for Translation
 
11. Designing Documents and Web Sites
Goals of Document and Web Design
Understanding Design Principles
  Proximity
  Alignment
  Repetition
  Contrast
Planning the Design of Documents and Web Sites
  Analyze Your Audience and Purpose
  Determine Your Resources
Designing Documents
  Size
  Paper
  Bindings
  Accessing Tools
Designing Pages
  -Tech Tip: How To Set Up Pages
  -Guidelines: Understanding Learning Theory and Page Design
  Page Layout
  Columns

  -Tech Tip: How to Format Columns
  Typography
  -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
 *Help Readers Connect with Others
  Design for Readers with Disabilities
  Design for Multicultural Audiences

  -Ethics Note: Designing Legal and Honest Web Sites
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 Page Designs
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 11: Designing a Flyer
 
12. Creating Graphics
The Functions of Graphics
The Characteristics of an Effective Graphic
  -Ethics Note: Creating Honest Graphics
  -Guidelines: Integrating Graphics and Text
Understanding the Process of Creating Graphics
  Planning Graphics
  Producing 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 Graphs
  -Tech Tip: How to Use Drawing Tools
  -Guidelines: Creating Effective Line Graphs
  -Guidelines: Creating Effective Pie Charts
  Illustrating Logical Relationships
  -Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing a Graphic
  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 12: Creating Appropriate Graphics to Accompany a Report
 
13. Reviewing, Evaluating, and Testing Documents and Web Sites
Understanding Reviewing, Evaluating, and Testing
Reviewing Documents and Web Sites
  Revising
  Editing
  -Guidelines: Editing the Draft
  Proofreading
Conducting Usability Evaluations
Conducting Usability Tests
  The Basic Principles of Usability Testing
  Preparing for a Usability Test
  Conducting a Usability Test
  -Ethics Note: Understanding the Ethics of Informed Consent
  -Interactive Sample Document: Obtaining Informed Consent
  Interpreting and Reporting the Data from a Usability Test
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 13: Revising a Document for a New Audience
 
PART 4: Learning Important Applications
 
14. Writing Correspondence
Understanding the Process for Writing Correspondence
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
  Elements of a Letter
  Format of a Letter
  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 Message
*Writing Microblogs
Writing Correspondence to Intercultural Readers
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 14: Employing the “You Attitude” in a “Bad News” Letter
 
15. Writing Job-Application Materials
Understanding the Job-Application Process
Planning the Job Search
Understanding Eight Ways to Look for a Position
Understanding the Risks and Benefits of Social Media and the Job Search
Writing Paper Résumés
  Appearance of the Résumé
  Content of the Résumé
  -Ethics Note: Writing Honest Job-Application Materials
  Elements of the Chronological Résumé
  -Guidelines: Elaborating on Your Education
  Elements of the Skills Résumé
Writing Electronic Résumés
  Content of the Electronic Résumé
  Format of the Electronic Résumé
  -Guidelines: Preparing a Plain-Text Résumé
  -Interactive Sample Document: Preparing a Plain-Text 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 or E-mails After an Interview
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 15: Adding “Social” to “Networking”

16. Writing Proposals
Understanding the Process of 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
Writing a Proposal
The Structure of the Proposal
  Summary
  Introduction
  -Guidelines: Introducing a Proposal
  Proposed Program
    -Interactive Sample Document: Writing the Proposed Program
  Qualifications and Experience
  Budget
  Appendixes 
  -Tech Tip: How to Create a Gantt Chart
*Sample Internal Proposal
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 16: Revising a Brief Proposal
 
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: Writing a Directive About Using Agendas for Meetings
 
18. Writing Lab Reports
Persuasion and Lab Reports
Understanding the Process of Writing Lab Reports
Understanding the Structure of the Lab Report
  Title
  Abstract
  Introduction
  -Guidelines: Writing Equations
  Materials and Methods
  Results
  -Ethics Note: Presenting Data Honestly
  Discussion
  Conclusion
  Acknowledgments
  References
  Appendixes
  -Interactive Sample Document: Evaluating Lab Reports
Understanding the Role of Science and Engineering Articles
Sample Lab Report
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 18: Introducing the Scientific Method Through a Lab Report
 
19. 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
  -Guidelines: Writing Recommendations
Writing the Body of the Report
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
  -Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing an Executive Summary
Writing Back Matter
*Sample Recommendation Report
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 19: Analyzing Decision Matrices
 
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
  Deciding Where to Place the Definition
Writing Descriptions
  Analyzing the Writing Situation for Descriptions
  Indicating Clearly the Nature and Scope of the Description
  Introducing the Description Clearly
  Providing Appropriate Detail

  -Guidelines: Providing Appropriate Detail in Descriptions
  Concluding the Description
  A Look at Sample 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: Balancing Clarity, Conciseness, and Usability in a Description
 
21. Making Oral Presentations
Understanding the Role of Oral Presentations
Understanding the Process of 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 the 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
Sample Evaluation Form
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 21: Understanding the Claim-and-Support Structure for Presentation Graphics
 
22. Connecting with the Public
*Understanding the Role of Connecting with the Public
Persuasion and Connecting with the Public
Presenting Information to the Public
  Newsletters
  -Guidelines: Designing an Effective Newsletter
  -Interactive Sample Document: Evaluating the Design of a Newsletter
  Brochures
  -Guidelines: Creating a Brochure
  White Papers
  -Guidelines: Writing a White Paper
  -Ethics Note: Marketing Your Organization Honestly
  Podcasts
*Collaborating with the Public Through Social Media
  Discussion Boards
  -Guidelines: Participating in Discussion Boards
  Blogs
  -Guidelines: Being a Responsible Blogger
  Wikis
  -Guidelines: Using and Participating in Wikis Effectively
Writer’s Checklist
Exercises
*Case 22: Considering a One-to-Many Model on Your Company’s Site
 
APPENDIX: Reference Handbook

Part A: Skimming Your Sources and Taking Notes
  Paraphrasing
  Quoting
  Summarizing

Part B: Documenting Your Sources
  APA Style
  IEEE Style
  MLA Style

Part C: Editing and Proofreading Your Documents
  Grammatical Sentences
  Punctuation
  Mechanics
  Proofreading Symbols and Their Meanings

Part D: Guidelines for Multilingual Writers (ESL)
  Cultural and Stylistic Communication Issues
  Sentence-Level Issues

 
References
Selected Bibliography
Index

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