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Professional & Technical Communication

Learning Outcomes:

  • distinguish between technical and professional communication and writing
  • understand the role of a technical communicator
  • know how ethics, collaboration, context awareness, research, writing, and design connect in the creation of documentation
  • Identify three artifacts of technical communication in the room. What do they have in common? What differs?
  • Do a job search on a popular outlet (monster.com, local newspaper sites, stc.org, etc.) for technical writers. Trade out the term “technical” for 

Use animations to illustrate processes, to entertain, and to engage readers' attention.

An animation can be as simple as a GIF file that blinks on and off and as complicated as online screen movie. Many of the clever animations you see online today are for amusement or artistic purposes. In time, more prosaic uses may be employed--as people become more comfortable with the software needed to created an animated images.

However great…natural talent may be, the art of writing cannot be learned all at once. --Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Read, read, read…Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. --William Faulkner

You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing.--Doris Lessing

 Learning Outcomes

  • Apply and adapt professional/technical writing conventions, including genre, tone, and style for particular writing situations.
  • Compose professional/technical documents and oral presentations for multiple audiences and specific purposes by using current technologies.
  • Design and implement information literacy strategies.

Now that you are familiar with some generally useful library and internet resources, here are some important journals in the field of professional and technical communication.

The term "professional writing" commonly refers broadly to texts written for business purposes such as business letters, reviews and recommendations, feasibility studies, progress reports, and application materials.  In turn, "technical writing" refers to documents that often explain technical processes or explain how to do something, such as technical descriptions and instructions and process reports.

Professional and Technical Writing texts share many similarities with traditional academic writing genres, such as an emphasis on clarity, succinctness, and thesis-driven, deductively organized texts.

Overview: This article will discuss the role of assembling and organizing relevant research and/or data in order to compose correspondence or a document that solves a writing problem.

  • Compose an evidence-based solution for a writing problem by assembling and organizing relevant research and/or data

Introduction

Composing involves more than putting your thoughts into words. Composing involves assembling ideas, words, sentences, paragraphs, and visuals to accurately, ethically, and coherently address a writing situation.

JOURNALISM: Gathering Information and Writing Your Story

University of Delaware Professor Ben Yagoda defines journalism as, “uncovering timely and previously not well-known information that, according to agreed-upon standards, is important; and conveying it to the public clearly, accurately, concisely, disinterestedly, and independently.” As a journalist, the stories you write are meant to provide true facts to readers about issues or news going on in the world today. They are meant to be truthful, unbiased, and informative.

Understand how and when to use charts and graphs.

Interact

Tables and graphs enable you to reach visual learners. When you select information for graphical representation, you are highlighting its significance. In some disciplines, particularly the sciences, readers expect authors to condense complicated information into charts and graphs. Many readers will scan a document's charts, tables, and graphs before reading any text.

Learning Objectives

  • analyze a writing problem and outline a plan for solving the problem that illustrates and analyzes audience while creating various professional/technical documents with a sophisticated awareness of audience as a reader and a writer.
  • operate current technologies in order to produce effective documents.

Types and Benefits of Planning

A recent survey of more than 250 working professionals provides valuable insights into how they view their own writing. By suggesting pragmatic ways to improve the writing of emails, memos, and reports, the article also helps students strengthen their job skills as they prepare for their own careers.

SURVEY FINDINGS

Exactly what did the survey reveal? While you can see all questions and replies in the accompanying tables, the following responses provoked the most curiosity:

  • Around 68 percent of workplace writers have confidence in their ability to write but only 42 percent of them get started easily—leaving a notable fifty-eight percent of workplace writers still struggling to get started easily--leaving a notable fifty-eight percent of workplace writers still struggling to get started..

Use visual brainstorming to develop and organize your ideas.

Like cluster/spider maps, hierarchical maps involve drawing a graphical representation of ideas. Unlike clustering, cluster/spider maps are chiefly concerned with analyzing relationships among ideas.

When Are Hierarchical Maps Useful?

Mapping is a useful organizing and revising tool when you want to see if you've made connections clear among ideas or if you've gone off on a tangent.

Add video to enrich or supplant printed texts.

New communication technologies enable authors to incorporate streaming multimedia into their webs. 

Writers may provide video to:

  1. Underscore the content of the print text, illustrating key concepts.  For example, an agency hoping to secure funds for hungry people could show video of their living conditions.
  2. Illustrate the content of the printed text.  A researcher could provide video of people he or she interviewed.  A technical writer could provide a screen-movie to show users how to complete instructions.
  3. Inform or persuade people who respond more positively to an engaging speaker than printed texts.

It is important to consider your audience when writing a technical communication document.  Categories like race, class, and gender, also known as demographics, can contribute to the way a person perceives a particular issue or document. Other important audience traits to consider are level of familiarity with the subject matter, knowledge of terminology, and educational background. These factors can help you determine what information your audience needs, what questions you should ask them, and how much jargon (field-specific language) you should use.

Many business professionals need to write a formal report at some point during their career, and some professionals write them on a regular basis. Key decision makers in business, education, and government use formal reports to make important decisions. As opposed to informational reports that offer facts and information without analysis, formal reports provide the end product of a thorough investigation with analysis. Although writing a formal report can seem like a daunting task, the final product enables you to contribute directly to your company’s success.

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop professional/technical documents with a clear awareness of ethics.
  • Recognize and discuss important elements of how culture affects communication in collaborative workplaces.
  • Illustrate and analyze audience while creating various professional/technical documents with a sophisticated awareness of audience as a reader and a writer.
  • Demonstrate audience and rhetorical awareness in visual design while creating professional/technical documents to visually appeal to appropriate audiences.

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The sign in this image reads, “WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE ENTRANCE AVAILABLE, PLEASE ASK INSIDE FOR ASSISTANCE.” Obviously, this picture was taken and turned into a meme because someone thought it was funny, which it is. But is it just funny, or does it reveal a deeper message about the way our society thinks about people with disabilities? What does this meme actually tell us? It tells us this building has been retrofitted with an alternative wheelchair accessible entrance, and its proprietors went so far as to post a sign with this information. However, the proprietors neglected to consider whether someone in a wheelchair could actually enter the main doors to “ask for assistance.”

Usability is the art of making sure that any kind of communication deliverable (e.g. a website, a handbook, a user guide, etc.) is intuitive, easy-to-use , and helps users achieve their goals. Usability is part of the broader discipline known as User Experience Design (or UX), which encompasses all aspects of the look, feel, and information contained in a communication deliverable. Usability testing, the process by which a communication deliverable is assessed, however, remains at the core of this discipline.

Considering the rhetorical aspects of any writing situation, such as purpose, stance, and audience, is an essential part of adapting the style of a message for any audience. Adopting a you-centered business style can help you achieve your purpose, choose a stance, and analyze your audience.  A you-centered business style employs the you view and an audience-centered tone to choose particular words and adopt a targeted tone in a message.

The “you view” analyzes and emphasizes the reader’s interests and perspectives. Because the reader’s interest or benefit is stressed, the writer is more likely to help the reader understand information or act on a request.

Learning Objectives

  • Understand the purpose and importance of diplomacy, emphasis, and tone in business communication
  • Gain the ability to write difficult professional emails without offending, frustrating, or confusing your reader
  • Learn to use strategies in written communication to make your own work clearer to get the response you need

  1. Don’t overlook the name – Essentially, your name is the title of your resume, and it’s something that students often don’t put enough thought into. When potential employers finish looking at your resume, what’s the one thing you want them to remember? Your name. So you should make sure the way you present your name grabs their attention. Human beings are visual creatures, so your name should be attractive visually. Consider the size, font, style, and layout of the name.