It is a good thing, perhaps, to write for the amusement of the public, but it
is afar higher and nobler thing to write for their instruction, their profit,
their actual and tangible benefit.
Mark Twain, "Curing a Cold"
Perhaps it was in a moment of weakness that Mark Twainan amusing writer if there ever was onewrote this passage about the value of practical writing. Whatever his motivation, he clearly acknowledges the importance of writing that makes the world function, the kind of prose we call "technical writing" today.
Every student who plans to work in business and industry must master the art of technical writing. Your employer will expect as much. Just as importantly, skill in writing will give you personal satisfaction and will help you advance throughout your life. Indeed, in this new century, effective writing remains a major criterion for success in all professions.
To this end, this book stresses one simple principle: you learn to write best by doing as much writing as possible. What follows is a summary of the main features of this book. Some were brought forward from the previous edition and others are new features developed for this edition.
The fifth edition adds features that make it more readable and usable, without changing what has made the book work in all its editionsnumbered guidelines, good models, practical assignments, and clear writing.
New Features to This Edition
The fifth edition of Technical Writing: Approach includes six new features:
1. "Collaboration at Work" Exercises
Every chapter begins with a Work"exercise.
These exercises engage in chapter content by getting teams to complete a simple project. Now all 15 chapters have "bookends" of collaborative exercises-the "Collaboration at Work" at the start and the "Communication Challenge" at the end.
2. International Assignments
Every chapter begins with a Work" exercise.
3. Appendix on Web Site Design
Appendix B introduces students to issues of design, construction, use, and evaluation of web sites.
4. Expanded Email Coverage
Chapter 7 includes a revised set of guidelines, an "ABC Format" for email documents, and an additional email model.
This expanded coverage of email is critically important as email continues to replace internal and external correspondence at an amazing rate. Writers need a clear understanding of how to use email properly.
5. Revised Research Chapter
Chapter 13 has been thoroughly updated to respond to rapid changes in Internet research and databases.
This chapter includes a new research example topichybrid and battery-powered vehiclesthat runs throughout the entire chapter. Also new to the chapter is a model of a short research report that uses the hybrid vehicle topic.
6. Expanded Coverage of Style and Usage
Chapter 15 adds information on tone, and the Handbook (Appendix C) includes 30 new entries on matters of correct usage.
Other changes in the fifth edition include (1) more assignments, (2) more information on electronic job searches in Chapter 14, (3) outlines of chapter headings at the ''.beginning of each chapter, (4) additional web site support, and (5) the use of four-color layout throughout the book.
Core Features of This Book
Technical Writing: A Practical Approach is built on a core of five basic features.
1. Focus on Process and Product
This book has you practicing writing early (Chapter 1).
The text immerses you in the process of technical writing while teaching you practical formats for getting the job done. After initial chapters that discuss the planning, drafting, and editing process, the bulk of the book provides guidance for writing the most common types of documents. A final set of chapters and appendices covers special topics such as oral presentations, research, and style.
2. A Simple ABC Pattern for All Documents
The "ABC format"Abstract, Body, and Conclusionwill guide your work in this course and throughout your career.
This underlying three-part structure provides you with a convenient handle for designing almost every technical document you encounter.
3. McDuff, Inc.A Fictional Company
McDuff, Inc. creates a fictional company for the classroom.
Not all students have experience working in a professional or technical organization, so McDuff supplies a realistic backdrop for many of the book's examples and assignments. By placing your reader or yourself in the role of a McDuff employee, you give concrete importance to the abstract principle of "writing for your reader."
4. Numbered Guidelines
Many sets of short, numbered guidelines make this book easy to use while you complete class projects.
Each set of guidelines will take you through the process of finishing assignments, such as writing a proposal, doing research on the Internet, constructing a bar chart, and preparing an oral presentation.
5. Annotated Models
The text contains models grouped at the end of chapters on color-edged pages for easy reference.
Annotations in the margins are highlighted in color and show you exactly how the sample documents illustrate the guidelines set forth in the chapters.
Beyond features already described, the following six additional features define the book's mission and demonstrate its utility in the classroom.
1. Communication Challenges
Every chapter includes a McDuff case study, with related questions, at the end of the chapter text.
Called a "Communication Challenge," each case describes a communication problem that relates to the material in its respective chapter. Your instructor may use these case studies as a springboard for class discussion or for collaborative assignments.
2. Writing Handbook
This book provides a well-indexed, alphabetized handbook on grammar, mechanics, and usage.
The writing handbook gives you quick access to rules for eliminating editing errors during the revision process.
3. Coverage of International , Communication
Because globalism continues to transform the business world, this book includes suggestions for understanding other cultures and for writing in an international context.
4. Information on English as a Second Language
An ESL section is included in the Handbook.
A growing number of technical communication students are from countries or cultures where English is not the first language. The ESL section of the Handbook focuses on three main problem areas: articles, prepositions, and verb use. It also applies ESL analysis to an excerpt from a technical report.
5. Assignments on Ethics
To reinforce the ethical guidelines described in Chapter 2, each chapter includes an ethics assignment.
No one can escape the continuous stream of ethical decisions required of every professional almost every daysuch as deciding what to include in your resume or choosing what tone to adopt in a proposalwhich is why the text challenges you to address ethical issues in these assignments.
6. Appendix on Online Documents
Appendix A addresses issues raised by the increasing prevalence of online documents in the workplace.
Many professionals, not just technical writers, are writing documents that will be read by their audience online, often never to be placed in hard copy. This new medium requires that we change the way we think about designing "pages" (screens), to help the reader gain quick access to all parts of the document.
The book is supported by the following supplements.
- Instructor's Resource Manual that includes Sample Syllabi, Chapter Summaries, Chapter Tests with Answer Keys, Editing Revisions, Planning Form and Letterhead (blank for copying), Resources for New Teachers of Technical Writing, and over 100 Transparency Masters of the book's Writing Guidelines and some of the Models.
- Transparency Acetates of most of the book's Models and ABC Formats.
- PowerPoint Slides of all the book's Models, Guidelines, and ABC Formats.
- Companion Web Site.