A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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Typography is the study and process of typefaces; how to select, size, arrange, and use them in general. Traditionally, typography was the use of metal types with raised letterforms that were inked and then pressed onto paper. In modern terms, typography today also includes computer display and output.

 

126.
#22804

Acrobat How-to: Enhancing Tutorials With Interactive Elements

A funny thing happens to students after class: They forget what they've learned. But adding interactivity can engage the reader. Try these simple methods.

McCue, Claudia. Creative Pro (2004). Articles>Education>Tutorials>Adobe Acrobat

127.
#23379

Across the Great Divide: Embedding Technical Communication into an Engineering Curriculum

The University of Maine has begun a multi-year effort to redesign the way it teaches technical communication to students in the College of Engineering. At its core, this new design will mean replacing the existing requirement of a stand alone course in technical communication.

Adams, David. CPTSC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>Engineering

128.
#33352

Acting on User Research

User research offers a learning opportunity that can help you build an understanding of user behavior, but you must resolve discrepancies between research findings and your own beliefs.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2004). Articles>Usability>Research

129.
#31675

Action Research and Wicked Environmental Problems: Exploring Appropriate Roles for Researchers in Professional Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The authors report on a 3-year action-research project designed to facilitate public involvement in the planned dredging of a canal and subsequent disposal of the dredged sediments. Their study reveals ways that community members struggle to define the problem and work together as they gather, share, and understand data relevant to that problem. The authors argue that the primary goal of action research related to environmental risk should be to identify and support the strategies used by community members rather than to educate the public. The authors maintain that this approach must be supported by a thorough investigation of basic rhetorical issues (audience, genre, stases, invention), and they illustrate how they used this approach in their study.

Blythe, Stuart, Jeffrey T. Grabill and Kirk Riley. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2008). Articles>Risk Communication>Community Building>Environmental

130.
#37039

Active Capture Design Case Study: SIMS Faces

We present a design case study for the SIMS Faces application. The SIMS Faces application is an Active Capture application that works with the user to take her picture and record her saying her name for inclusion on the department web page.

Chang, Ana Ramírez and Marc Davis. AIGA (2006). Articles>Web Design>Photography>Case Studies

131.
#35513

Active Open Source Translation Tool Projects

I don’t intend to give a complete project list. I just chose some projects that might be interesting enough to people from localization industry based on two criteria: 1. The features are useful for language service providers (LSP). 2. The development status is Stable or Mature. In other words, it is ready for real production use from the view of development cycle.

Dickson, Vic. Better Localization (2005). Articles>Software>Translation>Open Source

132.
#30852

Actively Learning About Readers: Audience Modelling in Business Writing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The advantages of peer feedback in business writing classes are clear. Students receive more appraisals of their writing than any single lecturer can ever realistically deliver. Also, the feedback comes from different perspectives and sometimes carries extra credibility coming from fellow students. Students gain from giving one another feedback as well. It is certainly learning by doing. Critiquing the work of colleagues raises awareness of the many ways to approach a given task and demands skills of analysis and attention to detail. Delivering feedback also requires tact and the ability to look for positives to commend as well as areas to improve. Reviewing written documents is a skill that students will certainly use in their future work lives. However, many of us have experienced problems with peer reviewing. Students hesitate to criticise their friends and prefer praising in a general way rather than suggesting improvements, which requires confidence.

Holst-Larkin, Jane. Business Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Education>Business Communication>Audience Analysis

133.
#37368

Actively Managing Your Schedule   (members only)

Uncertainty is the only certainty of a freelancer’s life, but it’s also a problem that afflicts wage slaves, as I learned during the first 15 years of my career. Something unexpected always seems to be popping up, disrupting our carefully crafted plans and leading to long days and late nights. Fortunately, there are ways to make life less uncertain than it might otherwise be, and each involves actively managing our schedules rather than waiting for others to define them for us. Active schedule management involves three types of activity.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Intercom (2010). Articles>Project Management>Planning

134.
#30840

Activists' Influence Tactics and Corporate Policies   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Corporations increasingly pay attention to issues of social responsibility, but their policies and procedures to articulate such responsibilities are not just a result of the good will of top management. Often, such policies and procedures are devised because some stakeholders raised their voice on issues relating to the interests of employees, investors, governments, and others. One category of visible though heterogeneous stakeholders is composed of 'activist groups.' In this article, we present a range of tactics that activist groups employ to influence corporate policy and conclude with some corporate policy responses to these tactics, illustrated with some examples. Different Tactics Activist groups usually start an influence campaign by collecting and organizing information about some issue about which they are concerned (e.g., sustainable development, human rights, labor conditions), disseminating this information to their audiences and formulating desired outcomes. They inform the target firm's top management of their particular concern and propose desired outcomes or alternative courses of action. If the firm's responses are considered inadequate, they will likely continue their campaign, but by starting to employ a more varied set of tactics. Below, we discuss four different types of tactics that activist groups use to leverage pressure on firms and that do not rely on the state or legal action for resolution of the issue: shareholder activism, political consumerism, social alliances, and alternative business systems (de Bakker and den Hond, 2007).

de Bakker, Frank G.A. and Frank den Hond. Business Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Policies and Procedures

135.
#30006

Activity Modeling: Toward a Pragmatic Integration of Activity Theory with Usage-Centered Design   (PDF)

Activity modeling is a systematic approach to organizing and representing the contextual aspects of tool use that is both well-grounded in an accepted theoretical framework and embedded within a proven design method. Activity theory provides the vocabulary and conceptual framework for understanding the human use of tools and other artifacts. Usage-centered design provides the methodological scaffolding for applying activity theory in practice. In this Technical Paper, activity theory and usage-centered design are outlined and the connections between the two are highlighted. Simple extensions to the models of usage-centered design are introduced that together succinctly model the salient and most essential features of the activities within which tool use is embedded. Although not intended as a tutorial, examples of Activity Maps, Activity Profiles, and Participation Maps are provided.

Constantine, Larry L. Constantine and Lockwood (2006). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods

136.
#31378

Activity Theory and Its Implications for Writing Instruction   (Word)   (peer-reviewed)

Proposes that educational institutions continue to improve the uses of writing in society in two ways: extend writing across the curriculum efforts and raise the awareness of students, the university community, and the public to the role of writing in society by having those who study writing teach an introductory liberal arts course on it. Both are important steps toward removing the remedial stigma attached to writing and its teaching, and toward combating the myth of autonomous literacy that reinforces the remedial stigma.

Russell, David R. Iowa State University (1995). Articles>Education>Writing>Activity Theory

137.
#37428

Activity Theory, Speech Acts, and the ‘‘Doctrine of Infelicity’’: Connecting Language and Technology in Globally Networked Learning Environments   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article draws on activity theory, politics of the artifact, and speech act theory to analyze how language practices and technology interplay in establishing the social relationships necessary for globally networked teams. Specifically, it uses activity theory to examine how linguistic infelicities and the politics of communication technologies interplay in virtual meetings, thereby demonstrating the importance of grounding professional communication instruction in social as well as technical effectiveness. That is, students must learn not only how to communicate technical concepts clearly and concisely and recognize cultural differences but also how to use language and choose media in ways that produce the social conditions necessary for effective collaboration in globally networked environments. The article analyzes two case studies—a workplace and a classroom—that illustrate how the mediating functions of language and the politics of technology intersect as mediating tools in globally networked activity systems. It then traces the implications of that intersection for professional communication theory and pedagogy.

McNair, Lisa D. and Marie C. Paretti. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2010). Articles>Education>International>Activity Theory

138.
#10405

Actual Readers Versus Implied Readers: Role Conflicts in Office 97   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article uses reader role theory to explain the dramatic failure of Paper-clip, the interface to Office 97's online help system. Called an Office Assistant, it is designed to shield users from the complexities of the software. Problems with Paper-clip surfaced as soon as Office 97 was launched. This article explains the Paper-clip controversy in terms of reader role conflicts by showing why actual readers rejected Paper-clip's role as implied writer and why they rebelled against the reader role Paper-clip implied for them.

Shroyer, Roberta. Technical Communication Online (2000). Articles>Word Processing>User Interface>Microsoft Word

139.
#32996

Adapting the Design Process to Address More Customers in More Situations

While user-centered design (UCD) is a commonly used process for designing mainstream hardware, software, and web interfaces; design for accessibility is relatively uncommon in education and practice. As a result, the scope of users and the situations in which they operate products is not as inclusive as it could be. Designing for accessibility does not require a whole new process. Accessible design techniques fit well into established UCD processes for designing a range of products, from a handheld device, to office software, to a government web site. By integrating accessibility into the design process, designers can efficiently create products that work effectively for more people in more situations.

Henry, Shawn Lawton. UIaccess (2001). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design

140.
#39056

Adapting UI to iOS 7: The Side Menu

One of the most common implementations of menu views has been the “side drawer,” “basement,” or “side menu” made popular in apps such as Facebook and Path. When a user taps the “Hamburger” icon to open a side menu, the main screen slides to the right (or left in some implementations) to reveal another screen below.

UX Magazine (2013). Articles>User Interface>Mobile>Usability

141.
#29736

Adaptive Technologies and Techniques for People with Vision Problems   (PDF)

Talk with Gloria Reece, a senior member of STC’s AccessAbility SIG who can help you understand vision problems and the technologies that exist to make information accessible. Get practical advice for implementing new technologies in your workplace.

Reece, Gloria A. STC Proceedings (2004). Articles>Accessibility>Visual>Workplace

142.
#21676

Add A Custom Menu To a Microsoft Word Toolbar

In Microsoft Word, you can use menus and toolbars to control how you manage your documents. Menus display a list of commands. Most menus are located on the menu bar at the top of the Word window. Shortcut menus are available when you right-click text, objects, or other items. Toolbars can contain buttons with images, menus, or a combination of both. By default, the Standard and Formatting toolbars are docked side by side below the menu bar. You can also add a custom menu to your toolbar.

Klariti. Articles>Word Processing>Software>Microsoft Word

143.
#29737

Add a Touch of Drama   (PDF)

Several similarities exist between writing technical documentation and writing dramatic scripts. Technical writers who also write drama find they become much more aware of audience, differentiate more easily between 'need to know' information and 'nice to know' details, and better anticipate reader actions and reactions.

Blicq, Ronald S. STC Proceedings (2004). Articles>TC

144.
#11790

Add New Tricks to Your Performance

One of the things I noticed about circus performers was that they are always practicing and always learning. Why? Because audiences demand acts that delight them. Therefore, to keep their routines fresh and interesting to themselves as well as to the audience, performers are always learning something new, something more difficult, or something fresh. You, as a technical communicator, need to have the same passion for adding new tricks to your performance. A great place to start is with usability: design, testing, and analysis. Why? If you make sure that your documents are well written, doesn’t that automatically make them usable? Of course not. Well-written documents are simply that—well written. Your prose may be technically accurate, clear, and succinct, but if people can’t find it, or don’t know about it, or if it documents a hard-to-use product, then no one will use it. As Judy Glick-Smith says: 'It’s communication, not literature.'

Wise, Mary. Usability Interface (2000). Articles>Usability

145.
#24121

Add One Egg, a Cup of Milk, and Stir: Single Source Documentation for Today

What happens when the software firm you work for decides it will not deliver large printed manuals any more? Then the request comes to put everything online. Six months later, user profiles shift to the World Wide Web and you're asked to deliver HTML. In the future, a database of SGML information chunks may let us deliver anything, any which way. Today, we must devise a system that allows us to 'author once, publish many'. Such as system is crucial for software and hardware documentation. The method I chose was to go from FrameMaker to Acrobat .pdf files to HTML. I wrote in Adobe FrameMaker, then converted to .pdf files with Adobe Acrobat, and converted FrameMaker to HTML files with Quadralay WebWorks Publisher. But while we're waiting for the future, just learning SGML and diving deep into DTDs alone could be a mistake. SGML is a language which sets out structure, and most of us are concerned with content. Enter Information Mapping, or information types of your own devising. Identifying chunks of information such as a procedure for changing the default printer is extremely important. If we then mark each chunk for an index and record its type and title, we've also got the keywords for a future database.

Stieren, Carl. Simware (1997). Articles>Documentation>Single Sourcing>Adobe FrameMaker

146.
#29152

The Added Value Features of Online Scholarly Journals   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Online scholarly journals have become an important tool for the generation of knowledge and the distribution and access to research. The purpose of this article is to analyze the features of online scholarly journals and to determine whether they incorporate new Internet-enabled features and functions which help to meet the needs of the members of the scholarly community more effectively. Drawing on Taylor's concept of added value [1], the features of online scholarly journals were classified into the following types: features which enhance ease of use and facilitate access to data, features that provide selected information and thus reduce noise, features which improve quality, features which address specific user needs, and features which contribute to time or cost savings. The analysis revealed that, although some online journals operate in the same way as print journals, there are others which incorporate innovative features which are transforming the journal to make it a more effective tool for scholarly activity.

Luzón, María José. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2007). Articles>Research>Publishing>Online

147.
#31265

ADDIE Model

The ADDIE model is the generic process traditionally used by instructional designers and training developers. The five phases—Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation—represent a dynamic, flexible guideline for building effective training and performance support tools.

InstructionalDesign.org. Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Methods

148.
#31395

Adding an Informal Touch to Organizational Communication

Some say it's a revolution that will change radio broadcasting and people's listening habits forever. Others say it's a fad that's of limited appeal or use to anyone but geeks and enthusiasts. Whatever anyone says, something that has rocketed out of nowhere and gotten big companies and radio stations alike interested (and after only eight months) must be worth investigating. That "something" is called podcasting.

Hobson, Neville. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Business Communication>Rhetoric>Workplace

149.
#37938

Adding Dropbox to Your Writer’s Toolkit

Dropbox isn't just useful for backing up files. It’s also an excellent way of synchronizing files across the various devices like laptops, my smartphone, and my media player. Here’s a look at how one person uses Dropbox when writing.

Nesbitt, Scott. ScottNesbitt.net (2011). Articles>Writing>Tools>Online

150.
#33544

Adding High-Impact Filters to Your Titles

Words go so well with video. They can give an emotional punch to a scene or simply announce what is going to happen next. I love using romantic quotes, Bible passages, and other forms of text in my work. The best part is that you can be just as creative with how those words are presented as you are in picking out the text in the first place.

McManus, Joe. Event DV (2008). Articles>Multimedia>Image Editing>Video

 
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