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.



Annual Reports That Work   (PDF)

Offers suggestions for creating excellent annual reports.

Worth, Carol. Intercom (2000). Articles>Writing>Reports


Anonymity and Online Community: Identity Matters

While anonymity may allow people to feel more free and disinhibited to discuss otherwise embarrassing or stigmatizing topics, it can also be a community's biggest enemy.

Grohol, John M. List Apart, A (2006). Articles>Web Design>Community Building


Anonymous Cowards, Avatars, and the Zeitgeist: Personal Identity in Flux: Part I

Governments and large organizations, with legal and administrative concerns like taxation and security typically address the practical aspects of identity we experience on a daily basis—issuing IDs and credentials and deciding the mechanisms for their verification. This division of responsibilities for defining and executing the construct of personal identity is nearly as old as the mind/body schism at the heart of Western culture.

Lamantia, Joe. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Web Design>Privacy>Social Networking


Another –ability: Accessibility Primer for Usability Specialists

This paper discusses in depth the relationship between accessibility and usability in product design. It presents a definition of accessibility and introduces the concept of ‘usable accessibility.’

Henry, Shawn Lawton. UIaccess (2002). Articles>Accessibility>Usability


Another Look at HTML 5

It has become evident to me that some of my previous comments about HTML 5 and what is going on in the HTML Working Group are the result of misunderstanding and overreacting on my part. I no longer think things are quite as bad.

Johansson, Roger. 456 Berea Street (2007). Articles>Web Design>Standards>HTML5


Another Usability Tool: Marketing   (PDF)

Discusses how working closely with marketing can improve usability.

Swartz, Andrew. Serco (2005). Articles>Usability>Collaboration>Marketing


Another Year, Another Award

We are proud to announce that, for the seventh year in a row, our online, wiki-based, publication, the Carolina Communiqué, has been awarded an APEX Award of Excellence!

Sapir, Rick. Carolina Communique (2014). Articles


Answering the Call: Toward a History of Proposals   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

While scholars have begun to write a history of reports and instructions, little scholarship exists on the history of proposals. To fill this gap, I analyze proposals written by Dorothy Wordsworth and Anne Macvicar Grant, ca. 1800. My analysis uses contemporary rhetorical theory to determine how they structured their writing and incorporated rhetorical appeals to achieve their goals. My findings show that their texts should be placed on a continuum of the history and development of the proposal genre. Further findings suggest that their use of contemporary rhetorical theories authorized Wordsworth's and Grant's discourse to successfully affect change.

Meloncon, Lisa. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2010). Articles>Grants>Proposals>History


Answering the Critics of Plain Language

Plain language has to do with clear and effective communication -- nothing more or less. It does, though, signify a new attitude and a fundamental change from past practices.

Kimble, Joseph. Plain Language Network (2003). Articles>Writing>Legal>Minimalism


Anthropologists Go Native in the Corporate Village

Anthropologist Elizabeth Briody earned her PhD studying communities of Mexican-American farm workers and Catholic nuns. For the past 11 years, though, she's been studying a different community -- the men and women of General Motors. As GM's 'industrial anthropologist,' Briody explores the intricacies of life at the company. It's not all that different from her previous work. 'Anthropologists help elicit the cultural patterns of an organization,' she says. 'What rules do people have about appropriate and inappropriate behavior? How do they learn those rules and pass them on to others?' Briody is a pioneer in a growing and influential field -- corporate anthropology. What began as an experiment in a handful of companies such as GM has become an explosion. In recent years, some of the biggest names in business have recruited highly trained anthropologists to understand their workers and customers better, and to help design products that better reflect emerging cultural trends. These companies are convinced that the tools of ethnographic research -- minute observation, subtle interviewing, systematic documentation -- can answer questions about organizations and markets that traditional research tools can't.

Kane, Kate A. Fast Company (1996). Articles>Usability>Methods>Contextual Inquiry


Anti-Employer Blogging: An Overview of Legal and Ethical Issues   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Anti-employer blogs, those which criticize companies or their employees, are posing significant legal and ethical challenges for corporations. The important legal issue is the conflict between the employee's legal duty of loyalty to the employer and the employee's right to free speech. Although U.S. and state law describes what an employee may or may not say in a blog, corporations should encourage employees to contribute to the process of creating clear, reasonable policies that will help prevent expensive court cases. The important ethical issue concerning anti-employer blogs is whether an employee incurs an ethical duty of loyalty. In this article, I conclude that there is no such ethical duty. The legal duty of loyalty, explained in a company-written policy statement that employees must endorse as a condition of employment, offers the best means of protecting the legal and ethical rights of both employers and employees.

Markel, Mike. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2009). Articles>Business Communication>Blogging>Ethics


Anticipating the Impact of Content Convergence   (members only)

The nature of content has been undergoing a profound shift in the past several years, beginning with single-sourcing efforts and continues as the need for portable content increases. The portability of content is not a manufactured need, but an extension of the trend to create, manage and deliver content in more efficient ways. In turn, this shift affects content development and delivery, particularly localization, which feels the impact of source-language changes exponentially.

Bailie, Rahel Anne. Multilingual (2009). Articles>Content Management>Single Sourcing>Localization


Anticipatory Search in Context-Sensitive Help

What if online help could be configured to be context-sensitive in a different way than usual? What if, when the user launches the help system, instead of opening to some assigned help topic, it instead runs a preprogrammed search on keywords assigned to that topic?

Minson, Benjamin. Gryphon Mountain (2010). Articles>Documentation>Help>Search


Anticircumvention Rules: Threat to Science

Scientists who study encryption or computer security or otherwise reverse engineer technical measures, who make tools enabling them to do this work, and who report the results of their research face new risks of legal liability because of recently adopted rules prohibiting the circumvention of technical measures and manufacture or distribution of circumvention tools. Because all data in digital form can be technically protected, the impact of these rules goes far beyond encryption and computer security research. The scientific community must recognize the harms these rules pose and provide guidance about how to improve the anticircumvention rules.

Samuelson, Pamela. Science (2001). Articles>Intellectual Property>Copyright



Using patterns has become a well-known design practice and is also considered best practice in the software development community. While UX teams can and should constantly promote best practice, we can also approach tackling poor design practice from the other side: antipatterns. Antipatterns are approaches to common problems that might appear obvious, but are less than optimal in practice.

Hornsby, Peter. UXmatters (2009). Articles>Web Design>User Interface


Anxiety and Public Speaking: What You Ought to Know

You think that you sound terrible but people who don’t know you don’t know that that’s not your normal voice. People who know you well may be able to perceive a slight difference. This is not to say that an audience doesn’t perceive anxiety at all – just that what they perceive is at a much lesser scale than you. The best way to convince yourself of this is to video yourself and then watch yourself.

Mitchell, Olivia. Speaking About Presenting (2010). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric


Anybody Can Do Usability

Usability is like cooking: everybody needs the results, anybody can do it reasonably well with a bit of training, and yet it takes a master to produce a gourmet outcome.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2009). Articles>Usability


Anyone Can Write

In today's world, anyone can write and publish on an equal footing with technical communicators. In fact, someone who uses your organization's products and blogs about them can easily acquire a bigger audience than the official technical documentation. Evangelizing for writing excellence and, therefore, content creation as the private domain of trained professionals is probably not going to work. Instead of arguing that others are not worthy/can't write/always forget to spell-check, technical communicators need to focus on bringing value to their organizations. This requires a reassessment of the technical communication responsibilities from the top down; that is, strategically. Most technical communicators are accustomed to thinking tactically.

O'Keefe, Sarah. Intercom (2010). Articles>Writing


Anything Worth Writing Is Worth Writing in XML   (PDF)

Tyson supports the claim of his title with a detailed discussion of three important benefits of XML.

Tyson, Paul H. Intercom (2002). Articles>Writing>Information Design>XML


The Anywhere Office = Anywhere Liability   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The 20th-Century office is dead. According to Telework Trendlines 2009, WorldatWork’s new survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults, the number of Americans working remotely at least once a month jumped 39%, from 12.4 million in 2006 to 17.2 million in 2008. Last year Congress even introduced bills that would encourage and expand telework programs in the federal government. Although the disap- pearing office boundaries caused by technological advances have obvious benefits for employers and employees, something else is dissolving along with those cubicle walls: clear limit lines of employer liability.

Genova, Gina L. Business Communication Quarterly (2010). Articles>Legal>Telecommuting>Workplace


Apocalypse? Not Now: Three Myths of New Media

The Internet explosion has spawned quite a few popular myths, and some Eye readers may not know what to believe. I'd like to offer my dismantling of what may be the top three misperceptions.

Raymond, Eric S. Editorial Eye, The (1996). Articles>Cyberculture>Multimedia


The App World: Are We Too Reliant on Technology?

The field of techcomm is always finding new and more efficient methods of working and relaying information. As a result, we've essentially revolutionized the processes by which people perform even the most mundane tasks. There's an app for everything now--you can board a plane without printing a ticket, access website content geared specifically for your device, control just about every electronic in your home remotely, and even talk into your phone to find the nearest Starbucks.

Dragonette, Laura. Carolina Communique (2014). Articles>Communication


Apparent Feminism as a Methodology for Technical Communication and Rhetoric   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article introduces apparent feminism, which is a new approach urgently required by modern technical rhetorics. Apparent feminism provides a new kind of response that addresses current political trends that render misogyny unapparent, the ubiquity of uncritically negative responses to the term feminism, and a decline in centralized feminist work in technical communication. More specifically, it suggests that the manifestation of these trends in technical spheres requires intervention into notions of objectivity and the regimes of truth they support. Apparent feminism is a methodology that seeks to recognize and make apparent the urgent and sometimes hidden exigencies for feminist critique of contemporary politics and technical rhetorics. It encourages a response to social justice exigencies, invites participation from allies who do not explicitly identify as feminist but do work that complements feminist goals, and makes apparent the ways in which efficient work actually depends on the existence and input of diverse audiences.

Frost, Erin A. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2016). Articles>Rhetoric>TC>Gender


The Appeal of Adobe InDesign

Working with InDesign is interesting. On the one hand, it’s not really a tool built for technical writers. It’s intended for people laying out magazines, brochures, other heavily designed print matter. As such, some things can be confusing. Cross references, figure references, a table of contents — get ready to search the help to figure these out. On the other hand, the power of the InDesign is somewhat captivating. You’re only limited by your own ignorance.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2009). Articles>Document Design>Software>Adobe InDesign


Appearing for Sentence

Commas, semi-colons and colons are the sentence tidiers. Used correctly, they'll give your written language the 'punctuation' that pauses, voice modulations and gestures provide when you speak.

Right Words (2006). Articles>Writing>Style Guides>Grammar



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