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.

 

276.
#22128

Alternatives to the Paragraph

'It's all in the manual.' How many times have you heard that - or said it in frustration? After all, when you are the person who wrote the manual, you know that all the answers are there. But time and again readers can't find what they need to know, or don't understand the material. Before you blame the reader, look again at how you've presented the material.

Hollis Weber, Jean. Technical Editors Eyrie (1989). Articles>Editing>Technical Writing

277.
#35123

Alternatives to XML: Keeping Down your Document Conversion Costs

While I'm a big fan of XML for many purposes, it's a misconception that it's the single best solution in every scenario, and it's worthwhile to consider the alternatives in situations where the benefits of XML are not necessary. In this article, I discuss alternatives to XML, SGML, and HTML that might be suitable when budgets are more limited. While XML is perfect for highly coded information, other options can work well for many kinds of information. Markup languages are at the high end of the cost spectrum, so if you don't need the benefits they provide, you certainly should consider the alternatives discussed below.

Gross, Mark. Data Conversion Laboratory (2009). Articles>Content Management>Information Design>XML

278.
#24524

Altruistic vs. Narcissistic Web Sites

Users are repulsed by web sites that are narcissistic, egotistic, corporate-speak, hard to understand, and difficult to use. Users are attracted to and enjoy web sites that are altruistic, user-prioritized, user-focused, easy to understand, easy to use, and full of fresh, relevant content.

Streight, Steven. Blogger.com (2004). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design>Usability

279.
#26953

Amara's RSI Page

I will examine this unfortunate side effect, Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), of the Digital Age in this essay. It has probably affected someone you know. I hope this information will cause you to pause, look at your computer setup and initiate changes that make your computing safer and more comfortable. And if you've already experienced some of RSI's disabling and career-threatening effects, I hope that this article eases some of your anxieties by describing methods, approaches and treatments that have helped others.

Amara.com (1999). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Ergonomics>RSI

280.
#23041

Ambient Findability

For an information architect with library roots, what's next is obvious: ambient findability. I want to be able to find anything, anywhere, anytime.

Morville, Peter. Semantic Studios (2002). Articles>Information Design>Search

281.
#26561

Ambient Findability: Talking with Peter Morville

Can we reasonably judge authority? How can we make good decisions in the information age? How do we know enough to ask the right questions? Peter Morville takes a moment to talk with us about these and other potential answers, his most recent book, the death of data, and our fascination with the future.

Danzico, Liz. Boxes and Arrows (2005). Articles>Interviews>Information Design

282.
#29273

America the Beautiful

Writers of English have choices. Most every word we commit to paper (or its electronic equivalent) has a synonym

Wenger, Andrea. Carolina Communique (2007). Articles>Writing>Grammar>Tropes

283.
#33452

American English vs. British English for Web Content

Users pay attention to details in a site's writing style, and they'll notice if you use the wrong variant of the English language.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2008). Articles>Usability>Writing>International

284.
#31624

Amex Woes Highlight Common PDF Accessibility Problem

American Express has come under criticism, and potential legal action, for the lack of accessibility of its credit card website. A blind customer of American Express credit cards found that Amex's change in the presentation of its online credit card statements from HTML to PDF format effectively prevented him from accessing his financial information online.

Rourke, Chris. User Vision (2007). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Adobe Acrobat

285.
#35483

Ampersands With Attitude

Ampersands have long been the character in a typeface with which typographers can indulge themselves. Sweeping curves, flirtatious finishes and bold statements – these are the things that make ampersands an exciting character to use and, better still, to design. There are, however, two problems.

Smashing (2008). Articles>Typography>Graphic Design>Fonts

286.
#32296

Amusing Titles in Scientific Journals and Article Citation   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The present study examines whether the use of humor in scientific article titles is associated with the number of citations an article receives. Four judges rated the degree of amusement and pleasantness of titles of articles published over 10 years (from 1985 to 1994) in two of the most prestigious journals in psychology, Psychological Bulletinand Psychological Review. We then examined the association between the levels of amusement and pleasantness and the article’s monthly citation average. The results show that, while the pleasantness rating was weakly associated with the number of citations, articles with highly amusing titles (2 standard deviations above average) received fewer citations. The negative association between amusing titles and subsequent citations cannot be attributed to differences in the title length and pleasantness, number of authors, year of publication, and article type (regular article vs comment). These findings are discussed in the context of the importance of titles for signalling an article’s content.

Sagi, Itay and Eldad Yechiam. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Publishing>Research>Scientific Communication

287.
#25773

AMWA Position Statement on the Contributions of Medical Writers to Scientific Publications   (PDF)

AMWA formed a new task force in 2001 to develop a statement regarding AMWA’s position on the contributions of biomedical communicators to scientific publications.

Hamilton, C.W. and M.G. Royer. Hamilton House (2003). Articles>Scientific Communication>Biomedical

288.
#25942

An Agreement With a Web Designer: What Should it Look Like?

Whether you're spending a few hundred dollars, or thousands of dollars, on your website, you should have a written agreement with your web designer. Here's what to include.

Bennaco (2004). Articles>Web Design>Contracts

289.
#35976

An Idiot’s Guide To Accessible Website Design

If you are designing web sites in the UK, you probably already know that the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) mandates web sites be accessible by visually and physically disabled persons. But even if you work in a locale that doesn’t have any accessibility requirements yet, web designers have an obligation to make their clients’ web sites available and accessible to anyone who wishes to visit. Why? According to a report by the Danish Center for Accessibility, as many as 25% of the world’s Internet users have some sort of visual, auditory or mobility disability.

Butler, Sandy. Web Design Ledger (2009). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility

290.
#39115

An Interview with John Carroll

Interview with John Carroll, best‑known among technical communicators as “The Father of Minimalism,” a title he earned as a result of his popular book, The Nurnberg Funnel.

Bleiel, Nicky. Society for Technical Communication (2015). Articles>User Centered Design>Human Computer Interaction>Minimalism

291.
#28230

An Introduction to DITA

Writing, compiling, and maintaining documentation is a necessary evil. While moving to DITA might not improve the quality of your documentation, it can streamline the process of creating and managing those documents.

Nesbitt, Scott. InformIT (2006). Articles>Documentation>XML>DITA

292.
#25378

An Overview of Single Sourcing with an XML Content Management System

Creating an XML-based Content Management System to single-source technical publications is as simple as 1 - 2 - 3. OK, maybe it isn't quite that easy, but this article discusses how it can be done.

Sapir, Rick. KeyContent.org (2004). Articles>Content Management>Documentation>XML

293.
#33301

Analyse Context of Use

Who are the intended offsiteuser and what are their offsitetask? (Why will they use the system? What is their experience and expertise?) What are the offsitetechnical and offsiteenvironmental constraints? (What types of hardware will be used in what organisational, technical and physical environments?)

UsabilityNet (2006). Articles>Usability>Methods>Contextual Inquiry

294.
#37035

Analysis of a Diagram

Just because you like something you created, it doesn't mean it's any good or you have a big ego. But it can be useful to stop and ponder something you did that you particularly like--so that you can understand your own design priorities a bit better.

Hughes, Michael A. Humane Experience, The (2010). Articles>User Experience>Technical Illustration>Visual Rhetoric

295.
#32332

An Analysis of Failed Queries for Web Image Retrieval   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This paper examines a large number of failed queries submitted to a web image search engine, including real users' search terms and written requests. The results show that failed image queries have a much higher specificity than successful queries because users often employ various refined types to specify their queries. The study explores the refined types further, and finds that failed queries consist of far more conceptual than perceptual refined types. The widely used content-based image retrieval technique, CBIR, can only deal with a small proportion of failed queries; hence, appropriate integration of concept-based techniques is desirable. Based on using the concepts of uniqueness and refinement for categorization, the study also provides a useful discussion on the gaps between image queries and retrieval techniques. The initial results enhance the understanding of failed queries and suggest possible ways to improve image retrieval systems.

Pu, Hsiao-Tieh. Journal of Information Science (2008). Articles>Web Design>Visual Rhetoric>Search

296.
#35451

Analysis of Team Design Review

Every other team meeting, three team members get 30 minutes each to talk about projects they are working on, and they get to demonstrate some of the cool things they are integrating into the project. As a team, we look at the project and both learn from what they’ve done, and make suggestions on how they might improve the project.

Pehrson, Paul. Technically Speaking (2009). Articles>Collaboration>Graphic Design>Assessment

297.
#34966

Analysis of the Behaviour of the Users of a Package of Electronic Journals in the Field of Chemistry   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The purpose of this research is to analyse the behaviour of the users of a package of electronic journals using the data of consumption per IP address. The paper analyses the data of consumption at the University of Barcelona of 31 electronic journals of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in 2003. Data of sessions, articles downloaded and abstracts viewed were analysed.

Borrego, Angel and Cristabal Urbano. Journal of Documentation (2007). Articles>Scientific Communication>User Centered Design

298.
#29057

Analysis of the Communication Components Found Within the Situational Leadership Model: Toward Integration of Communication and the Model   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article identifies and assesses the effectiveness of communicating expectations, listening, delegating, and providing feedback in relation to the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership model. It reviews the correlation between task versus relationship behavior that forms the basis of the Situational Leadership model. Then the article summarizes information found in literature on effective techniques for the four skills stated above. As these techniques are identified, they are discussed in relation to their effective use in the Situational Leadership model. To understand the application of the model in businesses and its impact on managers communication effectiveness, we conducted a study of an operational department of a Fortune 500 financial services company. The results and content analysis of a survey we administered by random selection of the managers in this department indicate that successful use of the Situational Leadership model relies on effectiveness in four communication components: communicating expectations, listening, delegating, and providing feedback. Finally, we recommend areas of future research such as comparison analysis of surveys, interviews, and focus groups with subordinates of managers who have been trained on the Situational Leadership model and those who have not.

Brown, Nicole A. and Randolph T. Barker. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2001). Articles>Business Communication>Management

299.
#37010

An Analysis of the Public Scientific Literacy Study in China   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In March 2006, the State Council of the People's Republic of China issued "The Outline of the Action Plan for Improving Scientific Literacy for All (From 2006--2010 and then 2010--2020)" (the "Scientific Literacy Outline"), in which the official notion of scientific literacy named "Public Scientific Literacy in China" was put forward for the first time in the history of China. Subsequently, the program of "Study on Measurement Indicators of Scientific Literacy of Chinese Citizens and its Demonstration" was funded by the China Association for Science and Technology the following September. However, the notion as well as its measurement indicators still need more clarification. After reviewing some relevant literature and introducing the historical background to the concept of "Public Scientific Literacy in China" along with a detailed interpretation of its connotation, the authors do a closer examination of the measurement indicators established by the Research and Development Center for Science Communication at the University of Science and Technology of China, based on a systematical analysis of the sample surveys.

Chen, Fajun, Yumin Shi and Fei Xu. Public Understanding of Science (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Surveys>China

300.
#30143

Analysis of Virtual Classroom Environments: Survey of Classroom Dynamics in RSVP Courses   (PDF)

Students can earn Master's degrees or continuing education certificates by at tending courses offered live satellite or compressed video or on videotape for delayed viewing. This panel discussion evaluates the effects of the various forms of technology and modes of interaction on the classroom dynamics in a live satellite class offered by Rensselaer Polytechnic institute (RPI).

Brunner, Kirsten, Roger A. Grice, David F: Hans, Teresa L. Hood and Leo J. Smith. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>Education>Online

 
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