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The bestselling text of its kind, Lannon's Technical Communication, Tenth Edition, is the premier resource for introductory technical communication, combining a pragmatic and accessible approach to the subject with attention to the latest developments in the field.
Addressing a wide range of interests for students from a variety of majors, the new edition of Technical Communication has an expanded emphasis on the realities of the workplace reflected in a new feature, On the Job, as well as expanded content throughout focusing on what goes on in the workplace day-to-day. As always, Technical Communication combines practical applications with clear writing and examples. Rhetorical principles are explained, illustrated, and applied to an array of documents, from brief memos and summaries to formal reports and proposals. Emphasis on current topics like technology, working in teams, and useability underlines the realities of technical communication today. Exercises incorporated throughout the text enable students to better understand the skills necessary both in college and in the workplace.
Long the standard in the industry, this text continues to lead in its treatment of the issues that confront students in today's technical communication classes–from managing collaborative groups to designing pages for the World Wide Web.
1. Introduction to Technical Communication.
Technical Communication Serves Practical Needs.
Technical Communication is User-Centered.
Technical Communication Is Efficient.
* Sample Document: A Citizen's Guide to Bioremediation.
* Technical Communication Comes in All Shapes and Sizes.
* Technical Communicators Employ a Broad Array of Skills.
Technical Communication is Part of Most Careers.
Communication Has Both an Electronic and a Human Side.
Communication Reaches a Global Audience.
Consider This: Twenty-First Century Jobs Require Portable Skills.
I. COMMUNICATING IN THE WORKPLACE.
* Technical Communication in the News : "Report Pinpoints Cause of Columbia Shuttle Disaster".
2. Preparing an EffectiveTechnical Document.
Complete the Key Tasks.
Rely on Creative and Critical Thinking.
Guidelines for Writing with a Computer.
* Make Proofreading Your Final Step.
* Guidelines for Proofreading.
Consider This: Workplace Settings Are Increasingly Virtual.
3. Delivering the Essential Information.
Assess the Audience’s Information Needs.
Identify Levels of Technicality.
The Highly Technical Document.
The Semitechnical Document.
The Nontechnical Document.
Primary and Secondary Audiences.
Web-Based Documents for Multiple Audiences.
* A Web Page Linked to Various User Needs : Zantac™ Syrup.
Develop an Audience and Use Profile.
Purpose of the Document.
Audience’s Technical Background.
Audience’s Cultural Background.
Audience’s Knowledge of the Subject.
Appropriate Details, Format, and Design.
Due Date and Timing.
Consider This: Communication Failure Can Have Drastic Consequences.
* 4. Making a Persuasive Case.
Identify Your Specific Goal.
Arguing to Influence People’s Opinions.
Arguing to Enlist People’s Support.
Presenting a Proposal.
Arguing to Change People’s Behavior.
Assess the Political Realities.
Expect Audience Resistance.
Know How to Connect with the Audience.
Allow for Give-and-Take.
Ask for a Specific Response.
Never Ask for Too Much.
Recognize All Communication Constraints.
Social and Psychological Constraints.
Consider This: People Often React Emotionally to Persuasive Appeals.
Support Your Claims.
Offer Convincing Evidence.
Appeal to Common Goals and Values.
Consider the Cultural Context.
Shape Your Argument.
Guidelines for Making Your Case.
Sample Document: Ewing Sales Letter.
Checklist for Cross-Cultural Documents.
* 5. Weighing the Ethical Issues.
Recognize Unethical Communication in the Workplace.
Know the Major Causes of Unethical Communication.
Yielding to Social Pressure.
Mistaking Groupthink for Teamwork.
Understand the Potential for Communication Abuse.
Suppressing Knowledge the Public Needs.
Hiding Conflicts of Interest.
Exaggerating Claims about Technology.
Falsifying or Fabricating Data.
Using Visual Images That Conceal the Truth.
Stealing or Divulging Proprietary Information.
Misusing Electronic Information.
Withholding Information People Need for Their Jobs.
Exploiting Cultural Differences.
Rely on Critical Thinking for Ethical Decisions.
Reasonable Criteria for Ethical Judgment.
Anticipate Some Hard Choices.
Never Depend Only on Legal Guidelines.
Consider This Ethical Standards Are Good for Business.
Learn to Recognize Plagiarism.
Decide Where and How to Draw the Line.
Sample Document : Code of Ethics from the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Guidelines for Ethical Communication.
Checklist for Ethical Communication.
6. Working in Teams.
Examples of Successful Collaboration.
The Role of Project Management in Successful Collaboration.
Guidelines for Managing a Collaborative Project.
Sources of Conflict in Collaborative Groups.
Gender and Cultural Differences.
Managing Group Conflict.
Overcoming Differences by Active Listening.
Guidelines for Active Listening.
Reviewing and Editing Others’ Work.
Guidelines for Peer Reviewing and Editing.
Face-to-Face versus Electronically Mediated Collaboration.
Ethical Abuses in Workplace Collaboration.
Intimidating One’s Peers.
Claiming Credit for Others’ Work.
Consider This: How You Speak Shows Where You Rank.
II. THE RESEARCH PROCESS.
* Technical Communication in the News : "Paging Doctor Joystick".
7. Thinking Critically about the Research Process.
Asking the Right Questions.
Exploring a Balance of Views.
Achieving Adequate Depth in Your Search.
Evaluating Your Findings.
Interpreting Your Findings.
Consider This: Expert Opinion Is not Always Reliable.
Guidelines for Evaluating Expert Information.
8. Exploring Electronic and Hard Copy Sources.
Hard Copy versus Electronic Sources.
Consider This : Information Can Be "Pushed" or "Pulled".
Electronic Magazines (E-zines).
World Wide Web.
Intranets and Extranets.
Keyword Searches Using Boolean Operators.
Guidelines for Researching on the Internet.
Other Electronic Sources.
Online Retrieval Services.
Consider This: Electronic Information Is Protected by Copyright.
Hard Copy Sources.
Guides to Literature.
Access Tools for U.S. Government Publications.
Consider This: Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright of Hard Copy Information.
9. Exploring Primary Sources.
Selecting the Best Medium.
Guidelines for Informative Interviews.
A Sample Interview.
Partial Text of an Informative Interview : Persuasive Challenges in a Software Firm.
Surveys and Questionnaires.
Defining the Survey’s Purpose and Target Population.
Identifying the Sample Group.
Defining the Survey Method.
Guidelines for Developing a Questionnaire.
A Sample Questionnaire.
Sample Cover Letter and Questionnaire : Communication Practices in Local Companies.
Inquiry Letters, Phone Calls, and Email Inquiries.
Public Records and Organizational Publications.
Personal Observation and Experiment.
Analysis of Samples.
10. Evaluating and Interpreting Information.
Evaluate the Sources.
Is the Source Up-to-Date?.
Is the Printed Source Dependable?.
Is the Electronic Source Trustworthy?.
* A Web Site that Advocates a Particular Viewpoint : Nuclear Energy.
Is the Information Relatively Unbiased?.
How Does This Source Measure Up to Others?.
Guidelines for Evaluating Sources on the Web.
Evaluate the Evidence.
Is the Evidence Sufficient?.
Is the Presentation of Evidence Balanced and Reasonable?.
Can the Evidence Be Verified?.
Interpret Your Findings.
What Level of Certainty Is Warranted?.
Are the Underlying Assumptions Sound?.
To What Extent Has Personal Bias Influenced the Interpretation?.
Are Other Interpretations Possible?.
Consider This: Standards of Proof Vary for Different Audiences and Cultural Settings.
Avoid Errors in Reasoning.
Faulty Causal Reasoning.
Avoid Statistical Fallacies.
Common Statistical Fallacies.
Consider This: Correlation Does Not Equal Causation.
The Limitations of Number Crunching.
Interpret the Reality Behind the Numbers.
Acknowledge the Limits of Research.
Obstacles to Validity and Reliability.
Flaws in Study Design.
Sources of Measurement Error.
Sources of Deception.
Guidelines for Evaluating and Interpreting Information.
Checklist for the Research Process.
11. Summarizing and Abstracting Information.
Purpose of Summaries.
Guidelines for Summarizing Information.
What Users Expect from a Summary.
A Situation Requiring a Summary.
Sample Summary: U.S. Nuclear Power Industry: Background and Current Status.
Forms of Summarized Information.
The Closing Summary.
The Informative Abstract.
The Descriptive Abstract.
The Executive Abstract.
Sample Executive Abstract : Executive Abstract of Status Report on Market Share for GBI, Inc.
Ethical Considerations in Summarizing Information.
Checklist for Usability of Summaries.
III. STRUCTURAL AND STYLE ELEMENTS.
* Technical Communication in the News : "Top Ten Web Design Mistakes".
12. Organizing for Users.
Partitioning and Classifying.
A Document’s Basic Shape.
The Formal Outline.
Sample Report Outline : Children Exposed to Electromagnetic Fields: A Risk Assessment.
Outlining and Reorganizing on a Computer.
Organizing for Cross-Cultural Audiences.
The Report Design Worksheet.
The Support Paragraph.
The Topic Sentence.
Creating an Overview.
13. Editing for Readable Style.
Editing for Clarity.
Avoid Ambiguous Phrasing.
Avoid Ambiguous Pronoun References.
Avoid Ambiguous Punctuation.
Avoid Telegraphic Writing.
Avoid Ambiguous Modifiers.
Unstack Modifying Nouns.
Arrange Word Order for Coherence and Emphasis.
Use Active Voice Often.
Use Passive Voice Selectively.
Avoid Overstuffed Sentences.
Editing for Conciseness.
Avoid Wordy Phrases.
Avoid Needless Repetition.
Avoid There Sentence Openers.
Avoid Some It Sentence Openers.
Delete Needless Prefaces.
Avoid Weak Verbs.
Delete Needless To Be Constructions.
Avoid Excessive Prepositions.
Fight Noun Addiction.
Make Negatives Positive.
Clean Out Clutter Words.
Delete Needless Qualifiers.
Editing for Fluency.
Combine Related Ideas.
Vary Sentence Construction and Length.
Use Short Sentences for Special Emphasis.
Finding the Exact Words.
Use Simple and Familiar Wording.
Avoid Useless Jargon.
Use Acronyms Selectively.
Avoid Misleading Euphemisms.
Avoid Imprecise Wording.
Be Specific and Concrete.
Use Analogies to Sharpen the Image.
Adjusting Your Tone.
Guidelines for Deciding about Tone.
Use an Occasional Contraction.
Address Readers Directly.
Use I and We When Appropriate.
Prefer the Active Voice.
Emphasize the Positive.
Avoid an Overly Informal Tone.
Avoid Personal Bias.
Avoid Sexist Usage.
Avoid Offensive Usage of All Types.
Guidelines for Nonsexist Usage.
Guidelines for Inoffensive Usage.
Considering the Cultural Context.
Legal and Ethical Implications of Word Choice.
Using Automated Editing Tools Effectively.
IV. VISUAL, DESIGN, AND USABILITY ELEMENTS.
* Technical Communication in the News : "To PowerPoint or not to Powerpoint?".
14. Designing Visual Information.
Why Visuals Are Important.
How Visuals Work.
When to Use a Visual.
What Types of Visuals to Consider.
How to Select Visuals for Your Purpose and Audience.
Graphs with Three Variables.
Gantt and PERT Charts.
Selecting Design Options.
Using Clip Art.
Using Web Sites for Graphics Support.
How to Avoid Visual Distortion.
Present the Real Picture.
Present the Complete Picture.
Don’t Mistake Distortion for Emphasis.
Guidelines for Fitting Visuals with Printed Text.
Checklist for Usability of Visuals.
15. Designing Pages and Documents.
* Page Design in Workplace Documents.
How Page Design Transforms a Document.
* Design Skills Needed in Today's Workplace.
* Using Style sheets and Company Style guides.
* A Page from a Company Style Guide: How to Prepare Text Headings.
Creating a Usable Design.
Shaping the Page.
Styling the Words and Letters.
Highlighting for Emphasis.
Using Headings for Access and Orientation.
Audience Considerations in Page Design.
Designing On-Screen Documents.
* Online Help.
Checklist for Usability of Page Design.
16. Designing and Testing the Document for Usability.
Why a Usable Design Is Essential.
How to Achieve a Usable Design.
Outline the Main Tasks Involved.
Sample Task Outline for a Manual : Performance Obectives for Users of the Model 76 Boban Lawnmower.
Analyze the Audience and the Setting.
Do the Research.
Develop a Design Plan.
Sample Design Plan for a Manual : Design Plan for the Model 76 Boban Lawn Mower.
How to Test Your Document for Usability.
Sample Usability Survey : Statistical Abstract Survey.
When to Use Which Test.
Usability Issues in Online or Multimedia Documents.
A Web Site Offering Advice on Usability : IBM's "Ease of Use" Web Site.
Usability Testing in the Classroom.
Guidelines for Testing a Document’s Usability.
Checklist for Usability.
V. SPECIFIC DOCUMENTS AND APPLICATIONS.
* Technical Communication in the News : "90 Million Americans Lack Health Literacy".
17. Memo Reports and Electronic Mail.
* Informational versus Analytical Reports.
* Formal vesus Informal Reports.
Purpose of Memo Reports.
Elements of a Usable Memo.
Interpersonal Considerations in Writing a Memo.
* Direct versus Indirect organizing Patterns.
Informational Reports in Memo Form.
Sample Memo (On the Job): Equipment for the New Operations Building.
Sample Memo (On Term Project): Evaluation of the EPA's Remedial Action Master Plan.
Periodic Activity Reports.
Sample Memo : Recent Meetings for Computer-Assisted Instruction.
Sample Memo : Minutes of Managers' Meeting.
Analytical Reports in Memo Form.
* Feasibility Reports.
* Sample Memo : The Feasibility of Investing in a Growing Computer Company.
Sample Memo : Recommended Ergonomic Improvements for Airline Booking Agents Justification Reports.
Sample Memo : The Need to hire Additional Lab Personnel.
Email Copyright Issues.
Email Privacy Issues.
Email Quality Issues.
Guidelines for Using Electronic Mail.
* Instant Messaging.
Guidelines for Choosing Email versus Paper or the Telephone.
Checklist for Usability of Memo Reports.
18. Letters and Employment Correspondence.
Elements of Usable Letters.
Basic Parts of Letters.
Sample Business Letter : Proposal and Estimate for Home Repairs.
Specialized Parts of Letters.
Interpersonal Considerations in Workplace Letters.
Sample Inquiries : Solar Energy Systems.
Request for an Informative interview.
Telephone and Email Inquiries.
Sample Claim : Warranty Repairs on Skiis.
Sample Claim : Diskettes Damaged in Shipment.
Résumés and Job Applications.
Employment Outlook in the Twenty-First Century.
* Prospecting for Jobs.
Preparing Your Résumé.
Organizing Your Résumé.
A Sample Situation.
Sample resume (reverse chronological): Entry Level Job.
Sample resume (Modified-Functiona ): Summer Internship.
Preparing Your Job Application Letter.
Sample Application Letters : Entry Level Job.
Consider This: How Applicants Are Screened for Personal Qualities.
Electronic Job Hunting.
Online Employment Resources.
Electronic Scanning of Résumés.
How to Prepare Content for a Scannable Résumé.
How to Design a Scannable Résumé.
A Computer-Scannable Resume : Summer Internship.
A Hyperlinked Resume : Summer Internship.
Protecting Privacy and Security When You Post a Résumé Online.
Support for the Application.
Your Professional Portfolio.
Guidelines for Surviving a Job Interview.
The Follow-Up Letter.
Sample Follow-Up : Entry Level Job.
Letters of Acceptance or Refusal.
Sample Acceptance and refusal : Entry Level Job.
Consider This: How to Evaluate a Job Offer.
Checklist for Usability of Letters.
19. Web Pages and Other Electronic Documents.
* Beyond HTML.
* Text versus Images: Current Preferences.
* Two Versions of a Web Site : EPA Site, 2001 Version.
EPA Site, 2004 Version.
Consider This: Web Sites Enhance Workplace Transactions.
Elements of a Usable Web Site.
Good Writing and Page Design.
An Award-Winning Web Page : Occupational Outlook Handbook.
A Simplified Web Page design : U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission.
Good Graphics and Special Effects.
Consider This Site Needs and Expectations Differ Across Cultures.
Scripting a Web Document with HTML.
Guidelines for Creating a Web Site.
A Page listing Award-Winning Web Sites : The Webby Awards.
A Page listing Sites that offer High-Quality Content : The Internet Scout Project.
Privacy Issues in Online Communication.
Checklist for Usability of Web Sites.
Individual or Collaborative Projects.
20. Technical Definitions.
Purpose of Technical Definitions.
Levels of Detail in a Definition.
* Sample: Dirty versus Nuclear Bombs.
History and Background.
Analysis of Parts.
Comparison and Contrast.
Required Materials or Conditions.
Situations Requiring Definitions.
Expanded Definition for Semitechnical Readers: Solenoid.
Expanded Definition for Nontechnical readers: Water Table.
Placement of Definitions.
A Hyperlinked Glossary Page: LASIK Eye surgery.
A Hyperlinked Expanded Definition: User Interface.
Guidelines for Defining Clearly and Precisely.
Checklist for Usability of Definitions.
Expanded Definition in a Technical brochure: Steam Turbines.
Expanded Definition in a FAQ List format: Cogeneration.
21. Technical Descriptions and Specifications.
Purposes and Types of Technical Description.
A Product Description: Hot Water Maker.
A Process Description: How the Hot Water Maker Works.
Elements of a Usable Description.
Clear and Limiting Title.
Appropriate Level of Detail and Technicality.
Clearest Descriptive Sequence.
A General Model for Product Description.
A Product Description : The Standard Stethoscope.
Introduction: General Description.
Description and Function of Parts.
Summary and Operating Description.
A Situation Requiring Product Description.
* A Product Description : A Flat-Plate Solar Collector.
A General Model for Process Description.
A Situation Requiring Process Description.
A Process Description : Causes and Effects of Acid Rain.
sample Documents : Building Specifications from an Architectural Firm.
Technical Marketing Literature.
A Technical brochure: Marvin™ Windows.
A Technical Marketing Web Page: Marvin™ Double Hung Window.
Checklist for Usability of Technical Descriptions 5.
A Technical Marketing Fact Sheet: Description and System Schematic of a Condensing Turbine.
22. Instructions and Procedures.
Purpose of Instructional Documents.
Formats for Instructional Documents.
A Brief Reference Card : Installing Microsoft Office™ Software.
An Instructional Brochure : Four Simple Steps to Food Safety.
Table of Contents for a Manual: Sharp Compact Copier Operation Manual.
An Online Help Screen : Microsoft Word™ Screen Capture.
A Set of Web-Based Instructions : How to Apply for the Energy Star Label for Buildings.
Faulty Instructions and Legal Liability.
Elements of Usable Instruction.
Clear and Limiting Title.
Appropriate Level of Detail and Technicality.
Logically Ordered Steps.
Notes and Hazard Notices.
* Layered Instructions : VCR Operating Instructions.
A General Model for Instructions.
Instructions Posted at a Library Computer : How to Use the OCLC Terminal to Search for a Book.
Body: Required Steps.
A Situation Requiring Instructions.
A Section from a Manual: Instructions for Felling a Tree.
* A Standard Operating Procedure : Decontamination procedures.
* A Safety Procedure : Evacuating High-Rise Buildings.
Checklist for Usability of Instructions.
A Section fom a Manual: Leak Testing an Outdoor Grille.
A Procedure for Contact Lens Care: Proper Care Gives Safer Wear.
How Proposals and Reports Differ in Purpose.
The Proposal Audience.
The Proposal Process.
* A Request for Proposal : RFP for Clinics to Treat RespiratoryDisorders.
Sample : Proposal for an In-House Writing Course for Technicians.
Sample : Proposal for Deterrmining the Feasibility of Marketing specialy Wood Products.
Sample : Proposal to Use Heavy Machinery at a Farm Site.
Elements of a Persuasive Proposal.
A Forecasting Title.
Clear Understanding of the Audience’s Needs.
A Clear Focus on Benefits.
Honest and Supportable Claims.
Accessible Page Design.
Supplements Tailored for a Diverse Audience.
Proper Citation of Sources and Contributors.
A General Model for Proposals.
A Formal Planning Proposal : Solving a Libary Noise Problem.
A Situation Requiring a Proposal.
* A formal Funding Proposal: Requested Funding for a College Newspaper.
Checklist for Usability of Proposals.
24. Formal Analytical Reports.
Purpose of Analysis.
Typical Analytical Problems.
Causal Analysis: “Why Does X Happen?”.
Comparative Analysis: “Is X or Y Better for Our Purpose?”.
Feasibility Analysis: “Is This a Good Idea?”.
Combining Types of Analysis.
Elements of a Usable Analysis.
Clearly Identified Problem or Goal.
Adequate but Not Excessive Data.
* A Feasibility Analysis : Screening Rail Passengers and Baagage for Explosives (Summary of findings).
Fully Interpreted Data.
Subordination of Personal Bias.
Valid Conclusions and Recommendations.
A General Model for Analytical Reports.
A Causal Analysis: A Risk Assessment for Children Exposed to Electromagnetic Radiation.
A Situation Requiring an Analytical Report.
A Feasibility and Comparative Analysis : Feasibility of a Career in Technical Marketing.
Guidelines for Reasoning through an Analytical Problem.
Checklist for Usability of Analytical Reports.
25. Front Matter and End Matter in Long documents.
Purpose of Supplements.
Letter of Transmittal.
Table of Contents.
List of Tables and Figures.
26. Oral Presentations.
* Advantages and Drawbacks of Oral Reports.
Avoiding Presentation Pitfalls.
Planning Your Presentation.
Analyze Your Listeners.
Work from an Explicit Purpose Statement.
Analyze Your Speaking Situation.
Select an Appropriate Delivery Method.
Preparing Your Presentation.
Research Your Topic.
Aim for Simplicity and Conciseness.
Anticipate Audience Questions.
Outline Your Presentation.
A Presentation Outline : Pollution Threatens to Local Groundwater.
Plan Your Visuals.
Prepare Your Visuals.
Guidelines for Readable Visuals.
Guidelines for Understandable Visuals.
* Consider the Available Technology.
* Use PowerPoint and Other Software Wisely.
* Guidelines for Using Presentation Software.
Rehearse Your Delivery.
Delivering Your Presentation.
Cultivate the Human Landscape.
Keep Your Listeners Oriented.
Manage Your Visuals.
Guidelines for Presenting Visuals.
Manage Your Presentation Style.
Manage Your Speaking Situation.
Guidelines for Managing Listener Questions.
Consider This: Cross-Cultural Audiences May Have Specific expectations.
VI. A BRIEF HANDBOOK WITH ADDITIONAL SAMPLE DOCUMENTS.
* Technical Communication in the News : "Public Access versus Public Security on U.S. Web Sites".
Appendix A. Recording and Documenting Research Findings.
Guidelines for Recording Research Findings.
Quoting the Work of Others.
Guidelines for Quoting the Work of Others.
Paraphrasing the Work of Others.
Guidelines for Paraphrasing.
What You Should Document.
How You Should Document.
MLA Documentation Style.
MLA Parenthetical References.
MLA Works Cited Entries.
MLA Sample Works Cited Page.
An MLA List of Works Cited for a Formal Report: A risk Assessment for Chuildren Exposed to Electromagnetic Radiation.
APA Documentation Style.
APA Parenthetical References.
APA Reference List Entries.
APA Sample Reference List.
An APA List of References for a Formal Report : The Feasibility of a Career in Technical Marketing.
CBE and Other Numerical Documentation Styles.
CBE Numbered Citations.
CBE Reference List Entries.
Appendix B. A Casebook of Sample Documents Illustrating the Writing Process.
Critical Thinking in the Writing Process.
Case #1--An Everyday Writing Situation: The Evolution of a Short Report.
Working with the Information.
Planning the Document.
Drafting the Document.
Revising the Document.
A Routine Document : Recommendations Involving a Sensitive Personnel Issue.
* Case# 2--Planning, Drafting, and Revising a Personal Statement for an Internship Application.
* A Draft and Revision of a personal Statement : Application for a Marine Biology Internship.
Case #3--Documents for the Course Project: A Sequence Culminating in the Final Report.
The Project Documents.
The Proposal Stage.
The Progress Report Stage.
The Final Report Stage.
Appendix C. Editing for Grammar, Usage and Mechanics.
Common Sentence Errors.
Faulty Agreement—Subject and Verb.
Faulty Agreement—Pronoun and Referent.
Faulty Pronoun Case.
Use of Numbers.