EPW 331/531 – Technical Writing

Dr. Kristi Siegel

Spring 2000

Mondays - 6:00 to 9:50 pm (accelerated format)

Smart Classroom – NDH

Office hours 4:00-5:50 pm Mondays and by appointment

Office Fidelis 223

Phone (414) 258-4810, ext. 461

E-mail siegelkr@mtmary.edu


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

Required: Gerson, Sharon J. and Steven M. Gerson. Technical Writing: Process and Product, 3rd Ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2000.

Recommended: A good dictionary and basic handbook on FrontPage 2000/web publishing.

Course Objectives:


Class Schedule





Jan. 8

Read (skim) first four chapters of text, pp. 1-85; focus particularly on definition and types of technical writing, methods for achieving clarity, and determining audience

Be prepared to discuss reading for first class (January 8).

Bring in one example of technical writing for first class.

Week 1

Jan. 8

Orientation and Introductions

Discussion of syllabus and scope of course

Definition of technical writing and types of technical writing

"Chopping block" of tech writing: clarity and audience

Basic word processing shortcuts and techniques

Design principles – in class exercise

Read Chapters 8 and 9

Bring in example of good technical design and example of poor technical design for next class (be prepared to explain why examples are good or poor).


Week 2

Jan. 22

Visual design and Graphics – in-class work and assignments

Narrative strategies for writing technical content (in-class exercises and assignments)

Lego Block assignment explained

Read Chapters 11 & 12

Lego Block assignment due on Jan. 28

Week 3

Jan. 28

Lego Block presentations

Principles of technical descriptions and instructions (in-class exercises and assignment)

Instructional Chapter/manual assignment explained – in-class work and discussion

Progress/Status Report explained and assigned.

Read Chapters 13 & 14

Status Report on Instruction Manual due Feb. 5

Instructional Chapter/Manual due Feb. 12

Week 4

Feb. 5

Types of reports explained and discussed (in-class exercises and assignments).

In-class work on Instruction manuals

Principles of proposal writing

In-class work on Web site Proposal

Sign up for GeoCities web site

Read handout on website design.

Read Internet links on website design and construction.

Instruction manual due next class (Feb. 12)

Week 5

Feb. 12

Proposals and Grants (cont.)

In-class exercises and assignments

In-class work on Website Proposal

In-class work on Web pages – design, techniques, and writing effective web text

Oral Presentation assigned

Web site proposal due Feb. 19

Read suggested Internet Links


Week 6

Feb. 19

Discussion of Website Proposals

In-class work on webpages

In-class work and discussion on presenting effective oral communication – film on effective oral presentations

Explanation of Final Portfolio

Read Chapter 17




Week 7

Feb. 26

In-class work on websites

In-class work on oral presentations

In-class work on final portfolios

Complete website, oral presentation and final portfolio for Mar. 5

Week 8

Mar. 5

Oral Presentation on Website

Assessments of Oral presentations

Task Analysis

Final Portfolios collected