Technical Communication

Edition: 10th
Format: Paperback
Pub. Date: 2012-01-04
Publisher(s): Bedford/St. Martin's Press
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Through clear advice and an accessible visual design, Mike Markel's Technical Communicationmodels the principles it teaches, offering practical strategies that students can put to use right away. Using a student-friendly voice, Mike Markel shows writers how to tackle the major types of documents and writing situations they will encounter in their professional lives. Excellent and always fresh sample documents and examples demonstrate effective techniques and offer plenty of opportunities for analysis, while interactive cases provide engaging scenarios for writing practice. The new edition incorporates the latest workplace and technology trends, offering new advice for how and why to use social media effectively in technical communication.

Author Biography

MIKE MARKEL is director of technical communication at Boise State University, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. The former editor of IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, he is the author of numerous articles and six books about technical communication, including Ethics and Technical Communication: A Critique and Synthesis.

Table of Contents

* New to this edition
Preface for Instructors
Introduction for Writers
PART 1: Understanding the Technical Communication Environment
1.   Introduction to Technical Communication
What Is Technical Communication?
*What Are Your Roles as a Communicator?
Technical Communication and Your Career
Characteristics of a Technical Document
   Addresses Particular Readers
   Helps Readers Solve Problems
   Reflects the Organization’s Goals and Culture
   Is Produced Collaboratively
   Uses Design to Increase Readability
   Consists of Words or Images or Both
     -Interactive Sample Document: Studying How Technical Communication Combines Words,   
      Graphics, and Design
A Look at Three Sample Documents
Measures of Excellence in Technical Communication
   Professional Appearance
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 1: Using the Measures of Excellence in Evaluating a Résumé
2.   Understanding Ethical and Legal Considerations
A Brief Introduction to Ethics
Your Ethical Obligations
   Obligations to Your Employer
   Obligations to the Public
   Obligations to the Environment
Your Legal Obligations
   Copyright Law
     -Guidelines: Determining Fair Use
     -Guidelines: Dealing with Copyright Questions
     -Ethics Note: Distinguishing Plagiarism from Acceptable Reuse of Information
   Trademark Law
     -Guidelines: Protecting Trademarks
   Contract Law
   Liability Law

     -Guidelines: Abiding by Liability Laws
The Role of Corporate Culture in Ethical and Legal Conduct
     -Interactive Sample Document: Linking Values and Conduct
Communicating Ethically Across Cultures
   Communicating with Cultures with Different Ethical Beliefs
   Communicating with Cultures with Different Laws
Principles for Ethical Communication
   Abide by Relevant Laws
   Abide by the Appropriate Professional Code of Conduct
  *Abide by Your Organization’s Policy on Social Media
   Take Advantage of Your Employer’s Ethics Resources
   Tell the Truth
   Don’t Mislead Your Readers
   Use Design to Highlight Important Ethical and Legal Information
   Be Clear
   Avoid Discriminatory Language
   Acknowledge Assistance from Others

Writer’s Checklist
*Case 2: The Ethics of Requiring That Students Subsidize a Plagiarism-Detection Service

3.   Writing Technical Documents
   Analyzing Your Audience
   Analyzing Your Purpose
   Generating Ideas About Your Subject
   Researching Additional Information
   Organizing and Outlining Your Document

     -Tech Tip: How to Use the Outline View
   Selecting an Application, a Design, and a Delivery Method
   Devising a Schedule and a Budget
     -Guidelines: Drafting Effectively
   Using Templates
     -Tech Tip: How to Modify Templates
     -Interactive Sample Document: Identifying the Strengths and Weaknesses of a Commercial   
   Using Styles
     -Tech Tip: How to Use the Styles Group
   Studying the Draft by Yourself
   Seeking Help from Others
     -Ethics Note: Acknowledging Reviewers Responsibly
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 3: Understanding Why Revision Software Cannot Revise and Edit Your Document

4.   Writing Collaboratively
Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaboration
   Advantages of Collaboration
   Disadvantages of Collaboration
Managing Projects
     -Guidelines: Managing Your Project
Conducting Meetings
   Listening Effectively
     -Guidelines: Listening Effectively
   Setting Your Team’s Agenda
     -Guidelines: Setting Your Team’s Agenda
     -Ethics Note: Pulling Your Weight on Collaborative Projects
   Conducting Efficient Meetings
   Communicating Diplomatically
     -Guidelines: Communicating Diplomatically
   Critiquing a Team Member’s Work
     -Guidelines: Critiquing a Colleague’s Work
*Using Your Word Processor as a Collaboration Tool
     -Tech Tip: How to Use the Review Tab
     -Interactive Sample Document: Critiquing a Draft Clearly and Diplomatically
*Using Other Electronic Tools in Collaboration
   *Messaging Technologies
     -Guidelines: Participating in a Videoconference
   *Wikis and Shared Document Workspaces
   *Virtual Worlds
    *-Ethics Note: Maintaining a Professional Presence Online
Gender and Collaboration
Culture and Collaboration
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 4: Accommodating a Team Member’s Scheduling Problems
PART 2: Planning the Document
5.   Analyzing Your Audience and Purpose
Using an Audience Profile Sheet
Determining the Important Characteristics of Your Audience
   Who Are Your Readers?
   Why Is Your Audience Reading Your Document?
   What Are Your Readers’ Attitude and Expectations?
   How Will Your Readers Use Your Document?
Techniques for Learning About Your Audience
   Determining What You Already Know About Your Audience
   Interviewing People
 *Reading About Your Audience Online
 *Searching Social Media for Documents Your Audience Has Written
Communicating Across Cultures
   Understanding the Cultural Variables “on the Surface”
   Understanding the Cultural Variables “Beneath the Surface”
   Considering Cultural Variables as You Write
     -Guidelines: Writing for Readers from Other Cultures
     -Interactive Sample Document: Examining Cultural Variables in a Business Letter
Applying What You Have Learned About Your Audience
     -Ethics Note: Meeting Your Readers’ Needs Responsibly
Using Graphics and Design for Multicultural Readers
Writing for Multiple Audiences
Determining Your Purpose
Gaining Management’s Approval
Revising Information for a New Audience and Purpose
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 5: Reaching Out to a New Audience
6.   Researching Your Subject
Understanding the Differences Between Academic and Workplace Research
Understanding the Research Process
Choosing Appropriate Research Methods
     -Guidelines: Researching a Topic
Conducting Secondary Research
   Understanding the Research Media
   Using Traditional Research Tools
 *Using Social Media and Other Interactive Resources
   Evaluating the Information

     -Guidelines: Evaluating Print and Online Sources
     -Interactive Sample Document: Evaluating Information from Internet Sources
Conducting Primary Research
   Observations and Demonstrations
   Field Research
     -Guidelines: Conducting an Interview
     -Ethics Note: Reporting and Analyzing Data Honestly
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 6: Revising a Questionnaire
7.   Organizing Your Information
Understanding Three Principles for Organizing Technical Information
   Analyzing Your Audience and Purpose
   Using Conventional Patterns of Organization
   Displaying Your Organizational Pattern Prominently
Using Basic Organizational Patterns
     -Guidelines: Organizing Information Chronologically
     -Guidelines: Organizing Information Spatially
   General to Specific
     -Guidelines: Organizing Information from General to Specific
   More Important to Less Important
     -Guidelines: Organizing Information from More Important to Less Important
   Comparison and Contrast
     -Guidelines: Organizing Information by Comparison and Contrast
     -Ethics Note: Comparing and Contrasting Fairly
     -Interactive Sample Document: Comparing and Contrasting Honestly
   Classification and Partition
     -Guidelines: Organizing Information by Classification or Partition
     -Guidelines: Organizing Information by Problem-Methods-Solution
   Cause and Effect
     -Guidelines: Organizing Information by Cause and Effect
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 7: Organizing a Document for Clarity—and Diplomacy

PART 3: Developing and Testing the Verbal and Visual Information
8.   Communicating Persuasively
Considering the Context of Your Argument
   Understanding Your Audience’s Broader Goals
   Working Within Constraints
Crafting a Persuasive Argument
   Identifying the Elements of Your Argument
   Using the Right Kinds of Evidence
     -Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing Evidence in an Argument
   Considering Opposing Viewpoints
   Appealing to Emotions Responsibly
   Deciding Where to Present the Claim
 *Understanding the Role of Culture in Persuasion
Avoiding Logical Fallacies
Presenting Yourself Effectively
     -Guidelines: Creating a Professional Persona
Using Graphics as Persuasive Elements
     -Ethics Note: Seeming Honest Versus Being Honest in Persuasive Writing
A Look at Several Persuasive Arguments
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 8: Analyzing the Fitness of Arguments
9.   Writing Coherent Documents
*Reviewing the Whole Document for Coherence
Writing Coherent Titles
Writing Coherent Headings
     -Guidelines: Revising Headings
Writing Coherent Lists
Writing Coherent Paragraphs
   Structuring Paragraphs Clearly
     -Ethics Note: Avoiding Burying Bad News in Paragraphs
     -Guidelines: Dividing Long Paragraphs
   Using Coherence Devices Within and Between Paragraphs
     -Interactive Sample Document: Identifying the Elements of a Coherent Paragraph
Creating a Coherent Design
   Using Headers and Footers to Enhance Coherence
   Using Typefaces to Enhance Coherence
     -Tech Tip: How to Modify and Create Styles
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 9: Highlighting the Coherence of a Passage
10. Writing Effective Sentences
Structuring Effective Sentences
   Use Lists
     -Guidelines: Creating Effective Lists
     -Tech Tip: How to Create Numbered and Bulleted Lists
   Emphasize New and Important Information
   Choose an Appropriate Sentence Length
   Focus on the “Real” Subject
   Focus on the “Real” Verb
   Use Parallel Structure
   Use Modifiers Effectively
Choosing the Right Words and Phrases
   Select an Appropriate Level of Formality
   Be Clear and Specific
     -Ethics Note: Euphemisms and Truth Telling
   Be Concise
     -Interactive Sample Document: Revising for Conciseness and Simplicity
   Use Inoffensive Language
     -Guidelines: Avoiding Sexist Language
     -Guidelines: Using the People-First Approach
Understanding Simplified English for Nonnative Speakers
Preparing Text for Translation
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 10: Revising a Document for Nonnative Speakers and for Translation
11. Designing Documents and Web Sites
Goals of Document and Web Design
Understanding Design Principles
Planning the Design of Documents and Web Sites
   Analyze Your Audience and Purpose
   Determine Your Resources
Designing Documents
   Accessing Tools
Designing Pages
     -Tech Tip: How To Set Up Pages
     -Guidelines: Understanding Learning Theory and Page Design
   Page Layout

     -Tech Tip: How to Format Columns
     -Tech Tip: How to Format Fonts
     -Ethics Note: Using Type Sizes Responsibly
     -Tech Tip: How to Modify Line Spacing
     -Tech Tip: How to Modify Justification
   Titles and Headings
   Other Design Features
     -Tech Tip: How to Create Borders and Screens
     -Tech Tip: How to Create Text Boxes
Analyzing Some Page Designs
     -Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing a Page Design
Designing Web Sites
   Create Informative Headers and Footers
   Help Readers Navigate the Site
     -Guidelines: Making Your Site Easy to Navigate
   Include Extra Features Your Readers Might Need
 *Help Readers Connect with Others
   Design for Readers with Disabilities
   Design for Multicultural Audiences

     -Ethics Note: Designing Legal and Honest Web Sites
Designing Web Pages
   Aim for Simplicity
     -Guidelines: Designing a Simple Site
   Make the Text Easy to Read and Understand
     -Guidelines: Designing Easy-to-Read Text
   Create Clear, Informative Links
     -Guidelines: Writing Clear, Informative Links
Analyzing Some Web Page Designs
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 11: Designing a Flyer
12. Creating Graphics
The Functions of Graphics
The Characteristics of an Effective Graphic
     -Ethics Note: Creating Honest Graphics
     -Guidelines: Integrating Graphics and Text
Understanding the Process of Creating Graphics
   Planning Graphics
   Producing Graphics
    -Tech Tip: How to Insert and Modify Graphics
   Revising Graphics
   Citing Graphics
Using Color Effectively
Choosing the Appropriate Kind of Graphic
   Illustrating Numerical Information
     -Guidelines: Creating Effective Tables
     -Tech Tip: How to Use Tab Stops
     -Tech Tip: How to Create Tables
     -Tech Tip: How to Create Graphics in Excel
     -Guidelines: Creating Effective Bar Graphs
     -Tech Tip: How to Use Drawing Tools
     -Guidelines: Creating Effective Line Graphs
     -Guidelines: Creating Effective Pie Charts
   Illustrating Logical Relationships
     -Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing a Graphic
   Illustrating Process Descriptions and Instructions
   Illustrating Visual and Spatial Characteristics
     -Guidelines: Presenting Photographs Effectively
     -Tech Tip: How to Create and Insert Screen Shots
Creating Effective Graphics for Multicultural Readers
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 12: Creating Appropriate Graphics to Accompany a Report
13. Reviewing, Evaluating, and Testing Documents and Web Sites
Understanding Reviewing, Evaluating, and Testing
Reviewing Documents and Web Sites
     -Guidelines: Editing the Draft
Conducting Usability Evaluations
Conducting Usability Tests
   The Basic Principles of Usability Testing
   Preparing for a Usability Test
   Conducting a Usability Test
     -Ethics Note: Understanding the Ethics of Informed Consent
     -Interactive Sample Document: Obtaining Informed Consent
   Interpreting and Reporting the Data from a Usability Test
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 13: Revising a Document for a New Audience
PART 4: Learning Important Applications
14. Writing Correspondence
Understanding the Process for Writing Correspondence
Selecting a Type of Correspondence
Presenting Yourself Effectively in Correspondence
   Use the Appropriate Level of Formality
   Communicate Correctly
   Project the “You Attitude”
   Avoid Correspondence Clichés
   Communicate Honestly

     -Ethics Note: Writing Honest Business Correspondence
Writing Letters
   Elements of a Letter
   Format of a Letter
   Common Types of Letters

Writing Memos
     -Guidelines: Organizing a Memo
Writing E-mails
     -Guidelines: Following Netiquette
     -Interactive Sample Document: Following Netiquette in an E-mail Message
*Writing Microblogs
Writing Correspondence to Intercultural Readers
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 14: Employing the “You Attitude” in a “Bad News” Letter
15. Writing Job-Application Materials
Understanding the Job-Application Process
Planning the Job Search
Understanding Eight Ways to Look for a Position
Understanding the Risks and Benefits of Social Media and the Job Search
Writing Paper Résumés
    Appearance of the Résumé
    Content of the Résumé
     -Ethics Note: Writing Honest Job-Application Materials
    Elements of the Chronological Résumé
     -Guidelines: Elaborating on Your Education
    Elements of the Skills Résumé
Writing Electronic Résumés
    Content of the Electronic Résumé
    Format of the Electronic Résumé
     -Guidelines: Preparing a Plain-Text Résumé
     -Interactive Sample Document: Preparing a Plain-Text Résumé
     -Guidelines: Preparing a Scannable Résumé
Writing Job-Application Letters
    The Concepts of Selectivity and Development
    Elements of the Job-Application Letter
Preparing for a Job Interview
     -Guidelines: Preparing for a Job Interview
Writing Follow-up Letters or E-mails After an Interview
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 15: Adding “Social” to “Networking”

16. Writing Proposals
Understanding the Process of Writing Proposals
The Logistics of Proposals
    Internal and External Proposals
    Solicited and Unsolicited Proposals
The “Deliverables” of Proposals
    Research Proposals
    Goods and Services Proposals
Persuasion and Proposals
    Understanding Readers’ Needs
    Describing What You Plan to Do
    Demonstrating Your Professionalism
     -Guidelines: Demonstrating Your Professionalism in a Proposal
     -Ethics Note: Writing Honest Proposals
Writing a Proposal
The Structure of the Proposal
     -Guidelines: Introducing a Proposal
    Proposed Program
      -Interactive Sample Document: Writing the Proposed Program
    Qualifications and Experience
     -Tech Tip: How to Create a Gantt Chart
*Sample Internal Proposal
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 16: Revising a Brief Proposal
17. Writing Informational Reports
Understanding the Process of Writing Informational Reports
Writing Directives
     -Interactive Sample Document: Writing a Persuasive Directive
Writing Field Reports
     -Guidelines: Responding to Readers’ Questions in a Field Report
Writing Progress and Status Reports
     -Ethics Note: Reporting Your Progress Honestly
   Organizing Progress and Status Reports
   Concluding Progress and Status Reports
     -Guidelines: Projecting an Appropriate Tone in a Progress or Status Report
*Sample Progress Report
Writing Incident Reports
Writing Meeting Minutes
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 17: Writing a Directive About Using Agendas for Meetings
18. Writing Lab Reports
Persuasion and Lab Reports
Understanding the Process of Writing Lab Reports
Understanding the Structure of the Lab Report
     -Guidelines: Writing Equations
   Materials and Methods
     -Ethics Note: Presenting Data Honestly
     -Interactive Sample Document: Evaluating Lab Reports
Understanding the Role of Science and Engineering Articles
Sample Lab Report
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 18: Introducing the Scientific Method Through a Lab Report
19. Writing Recommendation Reports
*Understanding the Role of Recommendation Reports
Using a Problem-Solving Model for Preparing Recommendation Reports
   Identify the Problem or Opportunity
   Establish Criteria for Responding to the Problem or Opportunity
   Determine the Options
   Study Each Option According to the Criteria
   Draw Conclusions about Each Option
   Formulate Recommendations Based on the Conclusions
     -Ethics Note: Presenting Honest Recommendations
Writing Recommendation Reports
     -Guidelines: Writing Recommendations
Writing the Body of the Report
Writing the Front Matter
     -Tech Tip: How to Format Headers, Footers, and Page Numbers
     -Tech Tip: How to Create a Table of Contents
     -Guidelines: Writing an Executive Summary
     -Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing an Executive Summary
Writing Back Matter
*Sample Recommendation Report
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 19: Analyzing Decision Matrices
20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions
Writing Definitions
   Analyzing the Writing Situation for Definitions
   Determining the Kind of Definition to Write
     -Guidelines: Writing Effective Sentence Definitions
   Deciding Where to Place the Definition
Writing Descriptions
   Analyzing the Writing Situation for Descriptions
   Indicating Clearly the Nature and Scope of the Description
   Introducing the Description Clearly
   Providing Appropriate Detail

    -Guidelines: Providing Appropriate Detail in Descriptions
   Concluding the Description
   A Look at Sample Descriptions
Writing Instructions
   Designing a Set of Instructions
     -Guidelines: Designing Clear, Attractive Pages
   Planning for Safety
     -Ethics Note: Protecting Your Readers’ Safety
   Drafting Effective Instructions
     -Guidelines: Drafting Introductions for Instructions
     -Guidelines: Drafting Steps in Instructions
   Revising, Editing, and Proofreading Instructions
   A Look at Sample Instructions
     -Interactive Sample Document: Presenting Clear Instructions
Writing Manuals
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 20: Balancing Clarity, Conciseness, and Usability in a Description
21. Making Oral Presentations
Understanding the Role of Oral Presentations
Understanding the Process of Preparing and Delivering an Oral Presentation
Preparing a Presentation
   Analyzing the Speaking Situation
   Organizing and Developing the Presentation
     -Guidelines: Introducing a Presentation
     -Guidelines: Concluding a Presentation
   Preparing Presentation Graphics
     -Tech Tip: How to Create a Master Page Design in PowerPoint
     -Tech Tip: How to Set List Items to Appear and Dim During a Presentation
     -Interactive Sample Document: Integrating Graphics and Text on a Presentation Slide
   Choosing Effective Language
     -Guidelines: Using Memorable Language in Oral Presentations
   Rehearsing the Presentation
Delivering a Presentation
   Calming Your Nerves
     -Guidelines: Releasing Nervous Energy
   Using Your Voice Effectively
   Using Your Body Effectively
    -Guidelines: Facing an Audience
Answering Questions After a Presentation
     -Ethics Note: Answering Questions Honestly
Sample Evaluation Form
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 21: Understanding the Claim-and-Support Structure for Presentation Graphics
22. Connecting with the Public
*Understanding the Role of Connecting with the Public
Persuasion and Connecting with the Public
Presenting Information to the Public
     -Guidelines: Designing an Effective Newsletter
     -Interactive Sample Document: Evaluating the Design of a Newsletter
     -Guidelines: Creating a Brochure
   White Papers
     -Guidelines: Writing a White Paper
     -Ethics Note: Marketing Your Organization Honestly
*Collaborating with the Public Through Social Media
   Discussion Boards
     -Guidelines: Participating in Discussion Boards
     -Guidelines: Being a Responsible Blogger
     -Guidelines: Using and Participating in Wikis Effectively
Writer’s Checklist
*Case 22: Considering a One-to-Many Model on Your Company’s Site
APPENDIX: Reference Handbook

Part A: Skimming Your Sources and Taking Notes

Part B: Documenting Your Sources
   APA Style
   IEEE Style
   MLA Style

Part C: Editing and Proofreading Your Documents
   Grammatical Sentences
   Proofreading Symbols and Their Meanings

Part D: Guidelines for Multilingual Writers (ESL)
   Cultural and Stylistic Communication Issues
   Sentence-Level Issues
Selected Bibliography

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