Technical communication is the process of conveying information through writing, speech, and other media to a specific audience. Information is usable if the. Technical communication/John M. Lannon, University of . Technical Communication Is Part of Most . Adobe AcrobatTM and PDF files 31'1. PDF | This article contributes two arguments to the disciplinary conversation of technical communication with the aim of exploring leadership opportunities our.
|Language:||English, Spanish, Hindi|
|ePub File Size:||15.50 MB|
|PDF File Size:||10.85 MB|
|Distribution:||Free* [*Regsitration Required]|
Technical communication is a means to document or convey scientific, engineering, The Society for Technical Communication defines the field as any form of. Technical communication is written and oral communication for and Technical communication focuses on products and services—how to. Technical Communication (13th Edition) - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online. Technical Communication offers complete.
And with a consistent turnout of 90 percent or better. Include a clear and specific audience and purpose statement. Organizational Constraints Constraints based on company rules Decide carefully when to say what to whom Organizations announce their own official constraints: Be prepared to discuss your evaluation in class. Ross If so. To get a better understanding of these three different strategies.
Judy Sneller. Westark College. Northeastern University.
University of Wyoming. Chattanooga State Technical Community College. Shirley Nelson. Johns Hopkins University.
Ian Granville. Orange Coast College. Thomas LaJeunesse. Christopher Keller. Clay Kinchen Smith. Susan Simon.
Kenneth Risdon. Don Zimmerman. Maxine Turner. Carnegie Mellon University. University of Texas at El Paso. Mark Rollins. Ava Lunsford. Peter Porosky. Michael McCord. Austin State University. New Mexico State University. Megan O'Neill. Elizabeth Robinson. Kirkwood Community College. Kevin LaGrandeur. Minnesota State University. San Diego State University.
University of Minnesota Duluth. Carol Clark Powell. Bowie State University. Southwest Texas State University. University of Florida. Christian Weisser.
Stephanee Zerkel. Michael Creeden. Colorado State University. Florida International University. Lindsay Lewan. Lauren Sewell Ingraham. Kent State University. Beverly Sauer. University of Hawaii at Hilo. Preface Jobst. Lisa McNair. JoAnn Kubala. Dirk Remley. Tarleton State University. Nicole Wilson. Joliet Junior College. Mansfield University. Stephen F. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Tom Long. The University of Texas at San Antonio. Kristin Woolever. San Joaquin Valley College.
Jeanelle Barrett. Celia Patterson. Susan E. Ohio University. Carolyn Young. Roxanne Munch. Gerald Nix. Terra Community College. California State University Long Beach. Tom Stuckert. Don Pierstorff.
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Jeff Wedge. Louisiana Tech University. New York Institute of Technology. San Juan College.
Creighton University. Florida Atlantic U. Elizabeth A. Louisiana Technical University.
Tri-State University. Embry-Riddle University. Karen Kuralt. Preface College. From John M. Ivy Technical Community College. From Brad Potthoff. Manuel Martinez. Mary Ellen Curley. From Laura J. Many thanks to Bruce Cantley for his generous and unflagging development help and valuable ideas. Lannon and Laura J.
Nancy Riecken. This edition is the product of much guidance and support. We thank our colleagues and students at the University of Massachusetts and the University of Minnesota. Joe Opiela. Santa Fe College. William Matter. What Is Technical Communication? Writing is the most important skill we seek in potential employees and nurture and reward In current employees. We also write proposals to help secure new contracts. Everything we do at my company results in a written product of some kind-a formal technical report.
It Is very hard to find people with strong writing skills. I shows a sampling of the kinds of technical communication you might encounter or prepare. Before we opt for the latest high-tech medical treatment. To interact will1 technology in so many ways. PowerPoint must advance the goals of our readers. Almost every day. From banking systems to online courses to business negotiations.
When we install any new device. Figure I. People may need to perform a task say.
Technical communication serves various needs in various settings. Technical communication is the exchange of information that helps people interact with technology and solve complex problems. Web page. Or we might be in a hurry and fail to notice our use of humor.
Corporations are increasingly multinational. Despite the power of digital technology. An unclear or inaccurate email could easily cause a legal conflict or a safety error.
In his article. To connect with all readers. We do all this with such speed that we often forget to pay attention to basic professional standards for workplace communication. Information technology is no substitute for human interaction.
People make information meaningful by thinking critically and addressing questions that no computer can answer: Can I verify the accuracy of this source? What does this information mean? What action does it suggest? How does this information affect me or my colleagues?
With whom should I share it? How might others interpret this information? With so much information available via the Web and other sources. For instance. Our cultures. Hein defines culture and its impact on communication: Our accumulated knowledge and experiences. An effective communication style in one culture may be offensive elsewhere..
American business [people] should know something about [our culture]. But they don't.. For example. Most important for communicators. Even if you don't anticipate a "writing" career. Most professionals serve as parttime technical communicators.
At one IBM subsidiary. It's always about how [Americans] know best. For more on cross-cultural communication. The more you advance in your field. Technical communicators also do other work. Trade and professional organizations employ technical communicators to produce newsletters.
Managers and executives spend much of their time negotiating. Given their. These are among the portable skills employers seek in today's college graduatesskills all related to communication.
They also prepare sales literature. They may also oversee publishing projects.
Many work in business and industry. Each employer will have questions such as the following: Focus on the reader. The communicatio n is reader-centered. In the event of a lawsuit. Reader-centered documents focus on what people need to learn. This doesn' t mean that your document should have no personality or voice. Workplace readers typica lly are interested in "who you are" only to the extent that they want to know what you have done.
M ain Features o f Technical Communication broad range of skills. Recognize your legal accountability. Instead of long technical passages. Web site management. An accessible and efficient technical document includes elem ents such as those d isplayed in Figure 1. If your inaccurate. Reader-Centered Unlike poetry. The document is in PDF fo rmat and can be read on the Web. NOTE Jn many cases. Despite coied ndva11ces i11 electro11ic coicatio Often Produced by T earns Prepare for teamwork Techn ical documents are often complex.
The teams might be situated at one site or location or distributed across different job si tes. Delivered in Paper and Digital Versions Select the appropriate medium or combination of media Technical documents can be delivered in a variety of med ia such as print hard copy. Most fo rms of technical communication address one of three primary purposes: I to anticipate and answer questions inform your readers.
Techn ical communicators must write well but must also be able to think about page design and media choices. PDF documents. Figure 1. The "sod bytes" that often masquerade as network news reports serve as a good case i11 poi11t. It is designed fo r a wide audience of readers who may know little about the topic.
Documents that Inform Anticipate and answer your readers' questions In formational documents are designed to inform. Web designers. Instead of being produced by a lone writer. Environmental Protection Agency and th e U. Po CFLs contai n mercury? Headings are phrased in the fo rm o f questions reade rs will ask Statistics are persuasive as well as informative CFLs contain o vory small amount or mercury sealed within tho glass lubing..
As shown In the 1ablo below. If the bulb goos to a landfill. Paragraphs and sentences are short What aco m orc yry omission s caysed by bymans? EPA estimates the US is respons Making this change will help to use less electricity at homo and pcovont grocnhouso gas olTllssions that lend to global climate change. Thanks to technology advances and o commitment from members of the National Electneal Manufacturers Assodabon. It allows the bulb to bo an efficient light source.: CFLs use toss electnoty than Incandescent fights.
Oy comparison Some manufBCturors havo oven mado further 1oductfons.. How do CFLs ro sy!! In loss moccyry In t ho ooyjronmoot compared t o tradl! Most mercury vapor inSlde ftuoroscen1bghl bulbs becomes boond to the inside of the r. Departm ent o f Energy. Eating fish conlamrnalod with mercury is tho main way for humans 10 be exposed.
In one yoar ft would sovo enough onorgy to fight more Uian 3 million homos. No mercury Is roleasod when lho bulbs aro lntaC1 nol broken or In uso. Ylbulbrecycl og 0t wwweacU! Cautions about what to do appear as need ed "Never send a fluorescent light bulb. Be careful "non removing the bulb from its packaging. IC bags and put 11 tnto the outside trash. AfNays screw and unscrew the hght bulb by its bose not the glass. EPA recommends that consumers tako advantage ol available local recycling options l0t compact fluorescent ltghl bulbs.
In the future.. Vlsrt the manufacture s web site to find tho customer sorvico contact 1r1f0tmallon to 1nqu"e aboot a relund 0t replacement.. On page 2 of that document the steps are grouped under specific headings and written using action verbs "unscrew the light bulb by its base". While some documents such as a sales letter are explicitly persuasive. Preparing Effective Technical Documents Documents that Persuade Persuasion encourages people to take a desired action. But regardless of the type.
Tn Chapter 2. The bar graph in Figure J. Sarah will seek consensus for her view. Sarah's report. I n these instances. The company wants as much "mileage" as possible from these filters.
Do I need visuals? And so on. Sarah will face a persuasion problem as well. Sarah will collaborate with the company training manager and the maintenance supervisor to prepare a manual.
Management wants an answer to this question: How often should we change water filters? The filters are expensive and hard to change. Waterborne contaminants can taint film during production.
To cut publ ishing costs. H Sarah Burnes was hired two months ago as a chemical engineer for Mill isun. Sarah will prepare a recommendation report for her bosses. Sarah will study endless printouts of chemical analysis. Sarah's first major assignment is to evaluate the plant's incoming and outgoing water. Once she has processed all the information.
Chapter 5 The short cases that follow illustrate how a typical professional confronts these tasks in her own day-to-day com munication on the job. When she finally determines what all the data indicate. If the report recommends further study. Many of the contaminants can be airborne. Sarah is on a multicompany team. She will have to make other people understand the dangers as well as she does.
She reports these findings in a memo to the production manager. Send copies of her original memo to someone else who might take action? Some elements of Sarah's persuasion problem: Are other interpretntio11s possible? Is there a better way? Can I expect political or legal fa llout? But the team's analysis reveals that any type of cleanup would sti r up harbor sediment.
Can I be honest and still keep my job? Premature action might actually increase danger. After finding the fil ters hopelessly clogged. The manager phones and tells Sarah to "have the filters replaced. For twenty years. Enraged local citizens are demandi ng immediate action. Now Sarah has to decide what to do about this lack of response: Assume the test is being handled.
Much of the team's collaboration occurs via email. Sarah will be expected to protect her company's interests. Sarah will have to balance the various political pressures and make a case fo r her interpretation.
Sarah is assigned to test the air purification system in Millisun's chemical division. Raise the issue again. Sarah will have to justify the delays to her bosses and the public relations office. Sarah's communication here takes on a persuasive dimension: She and her team members first have to resolve their own disagreements and produce an environmental impact report that reflects the team's consensus.
Sarah mjght feel pressured to overlook. Sarah can expect to collaborate with coworkers from diverse cultures on research and development and with government agencies of the host countries on safety issues.
Sarah has been assigned to a team that is preparing computer-based training packages and instructional videos for all personnel involved in Millisun's chemical management worldwide. Sarah will have to develop working relationships with people she has never met face-to-face. Millisun is developing automated procedures for quality control. Sarah has to work in a team setting: Much of her writing will be produced in collaboration with others erutors. Throughout tills process in the workplace.
For Sarah Burnes. In order to standardize the sensitive management of the toxic. Some elements of Sarah's ethics problem: Who might benefit or suffer? What other consequences could this have? In add ition to solving these various problems. As a furth er complication. Sarah also will have to reckon with the ethical implications of her writing.
She will need to be careful about how she writes her daily email status reports. To help everyone become acquainted. Locate a Web site for an organization that hires graduates in your major. Write a memo to your boss. Explain how the course will help you become more effective on the job. Take your notes home and select only the information you think the class will find useful. See Chapter 14 for memo elements and format.
Each person gets five minutes to tell her or his story. See Chapter 14 for memo elements and fom1at. Describe your findings in a short memo to your instructor. Use the Internet to le: Follow this procedure: Locate documents that are similar in purpose to r: Ask your neighbor to review the memo for accuracy. Analyze these documents. That person. Take careful notes. Present the class with a two-minute oral paraphrase of your memo. How is content presented differently on each site?
Docs the Facebook page appear to have a different purpose from the Web site? If so. Assume that you are about to join a team: In addition to technical knowledge. Discuss your findings in dass and write a short memo to other students. Prepare a one-page memo telling your classmates who this person is.
Exchange with your neighbor whatever personal information you think the class needs: I assume my audiences are happy enough to listen to me at first. I pitch grant proposals to larger groups of scholars. I write for students. John Bryant. Usability Projects "Audience makes all the difference. These people are considered to be the a11dience for your document: Or you might need to propose something-as in arguing for change in your company's sick-leave policy.
Before you start writing. Preparing an effective document requires systematic analysis of your audience and the ways in which they will use your document Figure 2.
Because people's basic requirements vary. Identify the length. You might need to explain something-as in instructing an auto repair technician how to reprogram the car's electronic ignition. You might need to describe something. Secondary readers are those who will carry out the project. This is your primary audience. Primary and Secondary Audiences "Who is the main audience for this document?
But most documents also have a secondary audience. Your Relationship to Your Readers "What is my relationship with this audience? Most documents are geared to an immediate audience of readers. Begin by analyzing your audience and the background. In your situation. Among the questions you must answer are these: Answer these questions by considering the suggestions that follow. Ask these questions: Questions for deciding on the purpose of your document Answer these questions by considering the suggestions in the sections that follow.
Purpose of Your Document Spell out precisely what you want your document to accomplish and how you expect readers to use it. As discussed in Chapter 1. Are they likely to welcome or to resist your information? Knowing the answer will help you decide how persuasive you need to be. But for ethical and legal reasons. Analyze Your Document's Audience and Purpose superiors.
The answer will help you tailor your document for various readers. A manual for a power tool or a lawnmower. For example [italics added]. In other words. Your answer will help you determine the level of formality and authority to use in the document. Primary and Secondary Purposes Most forms of technical communication fulfill a specific primary purpose. Are the readers from inside or outside your organization? Answering this question will help you decide how confidential you need to be.
Do you know the readers personally? Many documents have one or more secondary purposes.
In planning your document. Are they a combination of people from various levels. Al what level of tochnicality? But some audiences are larger and less defined say.
When you have only a general notion about your audience's background. Will people act immediately on the info rmation? Do they need step-by-step instructi ons? In my audience's view. Besides answering these questions. As you plan your document. A Xylocaine drip was started.. For her expert colleague. Xylocaine drip. Because her colleague knows all about specific treatments and medications de. She uses abbreviations that her colleague clearly understands wbc.
In Figure 2. The patient received 10 mg of morphine stat. The patient complained of severe chest pains. Vital signs: The patient was now conscious and responsive. Her report answers concisely the main questions she can anticipate from this particular reader: What was the prob- lem?
What was the treatment? What were the results? The patient was brought to the ER by ambulance at 1: As the heartbeat stabilized and cyanosis diminished. September The patient was defibrillated stat and given a 50 mg bolus of Xylocaine intravenously. Auscultation and EKG revealed a massive cardiac infarction and pulmonary edema marked by pronounced cyanosis.
Assess the Audience's Technical Background Highly Technical Audience Readers at a specialized level expect to be presented the facts and figures they need-without long explanations. Yet all medical students could be considered semitechn ical. The patient immediately received morphine to ease the chest pain. The elevated serum transaminase enzymes produced in quantity only when the heart muscle fail confirmed thes earlier diagnosis. Normal values of lab tests and vital signs.
Laboratory blood tests yielded a white blood cell count of O revealed that the kidney tubules wore degenerating as a result of the lowered blood pressure.
The partial version of the medical report in Figure 2. Exact dosages are omitted because no one in this audience actually will be treating this patient. Too much explanation is better than too little. Informed but. This version explains the raw data highlighted in yellow. Nearly all interpretation highlighted in yellow. Blood pressure was dangerously low. They expect to understand the document after reading it only once.
The nontechnical version of th e med ical report shown in Figure 2. Heart sounds and electrical impulses were both abnormal. Blood tests confirmed the heart attack diagnosis and indicated that waste produc ts usua lly filtered out by the kidneys were building up in the bloodstream.
The patient was given medication to ease the chest pain. Urine tests showed that the kidneys were failing as a result of the lowered blood pressure. They are bored or confused by excessive detail.
It merely summarizes events and briefly explains what they mea n and why these particular treatments were given. Pulse and respiration were almost twice the normal rate. Laypersons are impatient with abstract theories. Assess the Audience's Technical Background Experts know the normal values.
The lungs were swollen with fluid and the lips and fingertips showed a bluish discoloration from lack of oxygen. Knowing what medications the patient received would be especially important in answering this audience's central question: How is a typical lieart attack treated? Nontechnical Audience People with no specialized train ing laypersons look for the big picture instead of complex details. They expect technical data to be translated into words most people understand.
Then provide appendices for secondary readers. Secondary readers will include your supervisor and outside consu lting engineers who will be evaluating your test procedures and assessing the validity of your findings. After testing the hardness and chemical composition of the metal and examining microscopic photographs of the fractured surfaces fractographs.
For an illustration of these differences. See Chapter 22 for use and preparation of appendices and other supplements. Your supervisor has asked you to test the fractured rea r axle of a Delphi pickup truck recently involved in a fatal accident. Because your report may serve as courtroom evidence. Consultants will be focusing on various parts of your report.
For this group.
Transmittal lellers. When you must write for audiences at different levels. Audiences with Varying Technical Backgrounds The technical background of large and diverse audiences can be variable and hard to pin down. Such a report would naturally be much longer. Now you must report your procedure and your findings to a variety of readers.
You r assignment is to determine whether the fractured axle caused or resulted from the accident. Give readers only what they need and want. North American business culture is accustomed to "plain talk" that gets right to the point. Were you asked to "keep it short" or to "be comprehensive"? Are people more interested in conclusions and recommendations. In certain cultures. Figure 2. Other cultures prefer multiple perspectives on the material.
Anticipate Your Audience's Preferences In the previous scenario. Length and Details The length and amount of detail in your document depends on what you can learn about your audience's needs. Consider how cultural differences might create misunderstanding in your situation. Some cultures place high value on a formal.
Web-Based Documents for Multiple Audiences Web pages are ideal for displaying and linking various levels of information. Unless it serves the needs of each group independently. Martin and Chaney To avoid seeming impolite. For science professionals and other specialized readers. Oovicos I Vaccines. But a similar tone used in the memo about the company picnic would seem stuffy and pretentious "I am pleased to announce.
Web posting. Decide on the appropriate tone for your situation Due Date and Timing Does your document have a deadline? Workplace docu ments almost always do. Tone can range from formal as in a business letter to a client to scmiformal as in a memo announcing a change in company dress policy to in formal as in a quick email to colleagues announcing the upcoming company picnic.
Is there a best time to submit it? Do you need to break down the deadline into a schedule of milestones? Will any of your in format ion become outdated if you wait too long to complete the document? Know when to submit the document Budget Does your document have a production budget?
Can visuals and page layout charts. Calculate the financial costs. Decide how your document will look and will be distributed Tone The tone of your writing conveys an image of who you are: Where can you save money? How much time can your company afford to allot you for creating the document or Web page? How much money can you spend obtaining permission to use materials from other sources?
How much can you spend on printing. At the same time. The notion of workplace setting is key here: Always avoid the kind of free-fo r-all tone that is com mon in tweets. Workplace readers expect a tone that reflects both the importance or urgency of the topic and the relationship between writer and reader.
In short.. Whether it's the company president or the person next to you in class. Are your primary readers superiors. Are they ins ide or outside your organization? Who else might be interested or affected?
What do readers aJready know about this topic? How much do they care? Are they likely to welcome or reject your infor mation? T hink carefully about exactly what you want your readers to be able to do. Clients with little or no technical background want to know what this information means to them. Your readers may need to complete a task. How might cultural differences play a role in readers' interpretation of your presentation? Identify as closely as possible your audience's specific customs and values.
When in doubt. Better yet. Colleagues who speak your technical language will unders tand raw data. Managers who have limited technical knowledge expect interpretations and explanations. Any secondary audiences? De pa rtment faculty. Give them enough material Lo understand your position and to react appropriately. Here are some possible responses: Audience end Use Profil e Audion co and Purpose. Anticipate your audience's preferences..
Anticipate you r audience's reactions. If the topic is controversial or the news is bad. Anticipate your audience's q uestions..
Based on their needs and concerns. Will some feel threatened or offended? Should you be bold and outspoken or tread lightly? No matter how accurate your information or how sensible your ideas.
Modify this sheet as needed to suit your own situation. As the situation allows. This o ne. What is the purpose of this document? Why should I read it? What happened. Try to pinpoint the length. Who was involved? How do I perform this task? How did you perfor m it? What action should be taken. Who is my primary audience?
As the reader or user , you require information. Defining Technical Writing This genre of writing has many nuances that are reflected in the multiplicity of terms used to label it including technical communication, professional writing, technical rhetoric, and professional communication to name a few. There are two major dichotomies at work when anyone tries to define this discipline: Initially, technical writing evolved out of a need to transmit specific technical information to users who did not understand the jargon of engineers.
Every academic discipline and industry arena possess certain terminology or uses of words that are either unique to that community or used in a unique manner that the general public does not explicitly understand.
Soon after WWII, Americans were able to buy the first televisions, transistor radios, kitchen appliances, and other products of technology that were new to the thinking of the general populace. Engineers were more concerned with creating new products than to communicate to non-engineers how to use them. Someone needed to translate and thus technical writing became a recognized profession.
Soon other professions and industries began to notice that they could also benefit from this kind of specialized skill. Technical writing soon transcended technology and pervaded other professions; in essence technical writing is now just one genre within a multiplicity of professional writing contexts.
In addition to multiple professions using specialized writing to convey specific information through print, another need was soon realized: More and more specific information is being disseminated orally and visually to audiences of different cultures and in different settings.
Managers had to present findings to higher levels of management, new medicines had to be explained to global communities, and instructions for products and services had to be understood by customers with different expectations and learning contexts. Professional writers are moving beyond solely written media whether printed or computer screen to the arena of holistic communication.
In order to illustrate this point, consider our earlier example: If you were to consult the manual for directions to change a burnt-out bulb in your taillight, chances are that you will encounter other symbols than just written text. Most manuals have illustrations designed to convey information to a specific audience—you. You see pictures with step-by-step instruction including visual representations of parts and arrows that portray movement. In addition, you may encounter colors such as red or yellow, which may have other meanings in other cultures.
Writing specialists now have to understand how icons or figures can transmit specific directions outside of written text. We are now in the position to define technical or professional communication: Specificity If you remember, technical and professional writing emphasizes the dynamic between the subject of the document and the reader of that document.
A novel or an essay can wait; a burnt-out taillight cannot. This urgency is seldom experienced in a general way and results from a specific problem to be solved on the part of the reader. You are the one with the burnt-out taillight and you need to know how to change it.
You are a specific person with a specific problem that needs a specific solution. To solve this specific problem, you need specific information that is clear, concise, and presented in such a way that you can access and use it.
You are the specific user; you bought the car and they gave you that manual. Technical communicators specialize in analyzing what specific kinds of people would buy that car and in what specific contexts you would need to use the manual. Taillights burn out and clear information should be constructed in anticipation of that specific need. Another, often unspoken, aspect of a technical document is that of a specific shelf life.
Novels and essays are often written for broader audiences and with a sense of timelessness.