EPW 331/531 – Technical Writing

Dr. Kristi Siegel
Fall 2001
M & W - 10:00-11:50 am
Smart Classroom – NDH 249
Office hours 12:00 -1:00 pm M & W
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

  • A good dictionary 
  • Basic handbook on FrontPage 2000/web
  • My booklet on "Web Publishing Basics"
  • My booklet on Word 97/2000 Shortcuts



Course Objectives:
  • to understand the purpose and process of technical writing;
  • 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 learn how to produce clear and concise prose;
  • to appreciate principles of document design and how they enhance meaning;
  • to give a professional oral presentation on the final project (web site).



  • In-Class Assignments (10%)
  • Instructions, Manual, Proposal, Report, Grant, Resume (45%)
  • Website (15%)
  • Oral Presentation (10%)
  • Participation (5%)
  • Final Portfolio (15%)


                           Class Schedule

Date Activity Assignment
Week One
Aug 27
  • 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

  • Principles of layout and design

  • Layout and design principles

  • Fundamentals of document design


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).
Aug 29
  • Continued word processing strategies
  • Design principles
  • In-class exercise on design
Week Two
Sep 3
  • No class - Labor Day
Sep 5
  • Visual Design and graphics
  • In-class exercise on using and formatting visuals
Week Three
Sep 10
  • Visual design and graphics (cont.)
  • Principles for writing instructions
  • Lego Block assignment
Sep 12
  • Narrative strategies for writing technical content

  • In-class work on Lego instructions

Lego assignment due next class

Week Four
Sep 17
  • Task analysis on Lego block assignment
  • Instructions' manuals assigned
  • In-class work on Full Shot software
Work on Instructions' manual

Download Full Short Demo

Sep 19
  • In-class work on Instructions' manual
  • Continued work on using Full Shot
Week Five
Sep 24
  • In-class work on Instructions' manual
Instructions' manual due next class
Sep 26
  • Instructions' manual due

  • Parts' or Products' manual explained

  • In-class work on writing clear ad copy

  • In class work on scanning photos

Work on Parts' manual
Week Six
Oct 1
  • In-class work on Parts' manual
  • Principles of Report Writing
  • Status Report assigned


Parts' manual due next class
Oct 3
  • Parts' manual due
  • In-class work on status report
Status report due next class
Week Seven
Oct 8
  • Status report due
  • Principles of Writing Proposals
  • Solicited and Unsolicited Proposals
  • Proposal Assigned
Work on proposal 
Oct 10
  • In-class work on proposals
  • Examples of proposals discussed


Have rough draft (typed) of proposal for next class
Week Eight
Oct 15
  • In-class work on proposals
  • Task analysis and peer review of proposals
Edit proposal based on peer review and task analysis.  Final proposal due next class.
Oct 17
  • Proposal due
  • Grant Writing Introduced
Week Nine
Oct 22
  • Mock or "real" Grant assigned - TBA
  • Principles of Grant writing
  • Examples of Grant writing


Oct 24
  • In-class work on Grant assignment
  • Guest speaker
Week Ten
Oct 29
  • In-class work on Grant


Grant Assignment due next class
Oct 31
  • Grant Assignment due
  • Chronological vs. Functional Résumés
Find examples of good and bad Résumés (in terms of content and/or design)
Week 11
Nov 5
  • Principles of Résumé design and content
  • In-class work on Résumés
Nov 7
  • In-class work on Résumés
  • Sign-up for Geocities website
  • Geocities manual
Résumé due next class
Week 12
Nov 12
  • Résumés collected
  • In-class tutorial on Using Yahoo! PageBuilder
  • In-class work on website
  • Website proposal/plan assigned
Website plan/proposal due next class
Nov 14
  • Website plan collected
  • Principles of web content and text
  • Introduction to  FrontPage 2000
Week 13
Nov 19
  • Additional work on FrontPage 2000
  • In-class work on website
Continued work on website


Nov 21
  • Thanksgiving Holiday
Week 14
Nov 26
  • In-class work on website
  • Oral presentation on website assigned
  • Principles of Effective Oral Presentations


Work on website and oral presentation
Nov 28
  • Principles of Portfolio design
  • Portfolio assigned
  • In-class work on website and oral presentation
Week 15
Dec 3
  • In-class work on Portfolio and website
  • Practice on website oral presentations
Oral presentations, completed websites and portfolio due next class
Dec 5
  • Oral presentations on websites
  • Portfolios collected
Exam - Meet at 10:00am in NDH 249 - Portfolios returned and discussed


Resource Links for Technical Writing and Technology: