Dr. Kristi Siegel
Associate Professor - English
Mount Mary College
EPW 331/531 - Wednesdays: 6:00 - 9:50 pm
Office Hours: Wednesday, 4:00 - 5:50 pm and by appointment
preferred contact: email@example.com
general website: www.kristisiegel.com
Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon…But the secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components…Clear thinking becomes clear writing: one can’t exist without the other. —William Zinsser, On Writing Well
Materials and Text:
- Burnett, Rebecca. Technical Communication. 5th Ed., Heinle, 2001
- Folder to store my (endless) handouts
- A few blank diskettes
Note Regarding Online Syllabus:
I've linked to my own Word documents throughout this syllabus; if you miss class (don't!) or lose a handout, they are all available here.Your assignment descriptions are located in the week in which they are assigned. General handouts (e.g., the Word shortcut manual [32 pages], the web publishing manual [37 pages]) are located in the Handouts section below. The Links section provides links to supplementary websites on subjects such as writing mechanics, technical writing, design, and web publishing.
- to understand the purpose and process of technical writing;
- to create clear, accurate, and succinct content;
- to produce documents reflecting different types of technical communication such as technical descriptions, proposals, reports, web pages, and instructional manuals;
- to use mechanically and grammatically correct language in written and oral communication;
- to learn how to adjust technical content to meet the needs of a specific target audience;
- to appreciate principles of document design and how they enhance meaning;
- to give a professional oral presentation on the final project (web site).
Week One - August 28
- Lego Instructions, Formal Instructions, Product brochure/Manual, Proposal, Staus/Feasibility Report, Employment package (42%)
- Website (13%)
- Oral Presentation (10%)
- Participation and In-Class assignments (15%)
- Final Portfolio (20%)
- Orientation and Introductions
- Discussion of syllabus and scope of course
- Definition of technical writing and types of technical writing
- Explanation of "Learning Record" philosophy
- "Chopping block" of tech writing: clarity and audience
- Basic word processing shortcuts and techniques
- Design principles – in class exercise
- Principles of layout and design
Common Page Design (by David McMurrey)
Typography and Page Layout (by Ron F Wolley)
- Bring in example of good technical design and example of poor technical design for next class (be prepared to explain your rationale).
- Bring in example of good technical writing (content) and example of poor technical content (again, be prepared to explain your rationale).
- Read: Chapter 1, 2, and 8Week Two - September 4
- Visual Design and graphics
- In-class exercise on using and formatting visuals - Revision of Wasson memo
- Principles for writing instructions
- Lego Block assignment
- In-Class work on Lego Block assignment
Online Technical Writing: Instructions (McMurrey)
Instructions: How to Write for Busy, Grouchy People (Dr. Dennis Jerz) - funny and smart
- Lego assignment due next class
- Read: Chapter 15
- Task analysis on Lego block assignment
- Discussion of results
- Instructions' manuals assignment
- In-class work on Full Shot software
- In-class work on Instructions' manual
Conventions for Writing Computer Instructions - Miami University
FullShot trial screen capture site (try the FullShot 99 demo if your computer is slow)
- Complete or "rough out" at least two pages of Instructions' manual (so it may be critiqued and peer-reviewed).
- Read: Chapter 13
- Assessments on instructions' manual - in-class work on manuals.
- Parts' or Products' manual explained (collaborative assignment)
- In-class work on writing clear ad copy
- In class work on scanning photos
- Complete Instructions' manual - due next class.
- Complete or rough out products/parts' manual
- Read: Chapter 5
- In-class work on Parts' manual
- Principles of Report Writing
- Feasibility Report or Status Report assigned (choose one)
- In-class work on reports
Recommendation and Feasibility Reports (David McMurrey)
- Complete parts/products' manual - due next class.
- Rough out ideas/paragraphs/outline for feasibility or status report.
- Read: Chapter 17
- Feasibility and/or Status Reports discussed and assessed.
- Principles of Writing Proposals
- Solicited and Unsolicited Proposals
- Proposal Assigned - Speaker from Grants' department.
- In-class work on proposals and reports
- Examples of proposals discussed
Proposals (from the University of Toronto)
- Complete typed rough draft of proposal
- Feasibility or status report due next class.
- Read: Chapter 16
- In-class work on proposals
- Task analysis and peer review of proposals
- In-class learning record essay/course evaluation
- Edit proposal based on peer review and task analysis.
- Final proposal due next class.
- Bring in one or two employment ads for technical writers or other jobs that interest you.
- Read: Chapter 7
- Letters of application discusssed - examples provided.
- Chronological vs. Targeted/Functional Résumés - Résumé assignment
- Principles of Résumé design and content
- Employment package (Letter of Application and Résumé assigned).
- In-class work on employment package.
Résumés - excellent information plus additional resources - Dr. Dennis Jerz
- Complete typed rough draft of Letter of Application and Résumé
- Sign-up for Geocities website (will be done in class)
- Choose a topic and then find one or two examples each of websites presenting topic a) with good content and design and b) with poor content and design. Be prepared to defend your choices.
- Read:Chapter 19
- Assessments and discussion on employment packages.
- In-class revisions of employment packages based on critiques.
- Introduction to website design, content, and planning.
- Discussion of good/bad websites.
- Web design hell - I put this page together to illustrate how not to design a webpage.
- Basic web editing explained (using PageBuilder)
- If time, basic web editing explained (using FrontPage or Netscape Composer).
- Website assigned - web "plan" due next class
FrontPage Basics (Dell computers)
- Complete employment package - due next class.
- Complete web "plan" - sketch of proposed hierarchy.
- Read: Chapter 9 and Chapter 4's "Intertext"
- Website plan collected and discussed
- Principles of web content and text
- Different hyperlinks explained
- Continued discussion of good website design
- Introduction to FrontPage 2000
- In-class work on website
- Complete or "rough out" homepage and at least one secondary page.
- Bring list of problems/questions that arose while working on website. Share any new techniques you learned.
- Read: My manual (in the Handouts section)
- Formal oral presentation assigned and discussed.
- Continued work on website.
- Practice using docu-cam/computer apparatus for oral report.
Delivering Technical Information Face-to-Face - Dr. Dennis Jerz
- If possible, complete websites
- Work on oral presentation
- Read: Chapter 18
- Task analysis on websites
- In-class work on revising websites based on task analyses.
- Portfolios assigned and explained (examples provided).
- Complete websites
- Complete oral presentations
- Work on portfolios
- Read: Chapter 19 - pp. 716+
- Pair up and "practice" oral presentations.
- Pair up and assess websites.
- In-class work on portfolios - due on exam period
- Complete portfolio - due exam period
- Polish (<-- verb, not noun) oral presentation.
- Eat turkey, or just enjoy the break!
- Oral presentations on websites
- Course evaluations
- Take-home learning record essay assignment discussed - due at exam.
- If time, in-class work on final portfolios - due at exam .
Exam - December 11
- Collect and discuss learning record essays
- Collect portfolios.
- How to Build Lame Websites - Charlie Morris
- Society for Technical Information - STC
- Professor Charles Darling's Guide to Grammar and Writing - excellent information and interactive quizzes
- National Writers Union - job information and articles for freelance writers
- Webopedia - Online Dictionary of Computer and Internet terms - decode the jargon!
- Writers Write - comprehensive resource on books, writing, and publishing
- Hotjobs.com - enter "technical writer" as a search term and get some idea of the high demand for this profession.
- Web Clip Art - tons of links to free clipart and other web graphics - don't get carried away!
- Working at Warpspeed with Word 97/2000's Shortcuts:
Part 1 - Getting Started
Part 2 - Editing tips
Part 3 - Formatting tips
- Basic Principles of Document Design handout
- Elements of Page Design
- How to Put Your Reader into a Coma without Really Trying - Eliminating Wordiness
- Effective technical descriptions
- Instructions for Using FullShot
- Website design pointers
- Building a basic website - manual