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.



Apple Didn't Kill Flash, HTML5 Did

For most end-users, the debate over Flash is largely a debate about web video. Yes, Flash is used in other ways — for web-based games and ever-decreasingly in website design — but thanks in large part to YouTube, Flash is most commonly associated with web video. Web video is overwhelmingly encoded in H.264. Not only is the H.264 codec the default encoding setting for practically every video service online, it is also by and large the default codec for raw video from digital video cameras.

Warren, Christina. Mashable (2010). Articles>Web Design>Multimedia>HTML5


Apples and Oranges

Usability and design are two fields that collide more often than not. But why is that? Why can’t we all just get along and center our efforts around delivering a better product, a top-notch Web site or a user-friendly interface. Everybody would benefit from an open-minded, reciprocal understanding. Right?

Hilhorst, Didier P. Digital Web Magazine (2004). Articles>Usability>Design>Collaboration


The Applicability of the ADA to the Internet

As the Internet has increased in prominence in all sectors of society, interested individuals have begun to question whether or not the Internet should be included in the regulations set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Right now there is no explicit reference to the Internet in any of the language of the act.

Bohman, Paul. WebAIM (2000). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Policies and Procedures


The Application of Rhetorical Theory in Managerial Research: A Literature Review   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Recent management research imports rhetorical scholarship into the study of organizations. Although this cross-disciplinarity is heuristically promising, it presents significant challenges. This article interrogates management's use of rhetoric, contrasting it with communication studies. Five themes from management research identify how rhetoric is used as an organizational hermeneutic: The article demonstrates that management research conceptualizes rhetoric as a theory and as an action; as the substance that maintains and/or challenges organizational order; as being constitutive of individual and organizational identity; as a managerial strategy for persuading followers; and as a framework for narrative and rational organizational discourses. The authors argue that organizational researchers who study rhetoric characterize persuasive strategies as managers' most important actions.

Hartelius, E. Johanna and Larry D. Browning. Management Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Management>Research>Rhetoric


Applied Empathy: A Design Framework for Meeting Human Needs and Desires

The design community keeps making a lot of noise about designing for people/users/customers. However, while this notion is well-intentioned and even conceptually correct, I find much of it boils down to empty rhetoric. What exactly are we doing? More user research? More usability testing? Certainly these are valid approaches to finding out about people's needs, but they're only a small part of an optimal solution. Are we using hollow tasks and tools like personas and scenarios? Those approaches typically take design farther away from the people for whom we are designing products rather than closer. How about focusing on usability and the user experience? That gets at only part of the issue and tends to come from the perspective of the product--as opposed to the more universal needs and desires of actual people.

Knemeyer, Dirk. UXmatters (2006). Articles>User Centered Design>Methods


Applying "Mass Customisation" Manufacturing Principles to Solve Technical Communication Problems

This article discusses how organisations can resolve the conflict between the need to produce bespoke, customer-specific, technical communication and the need to re-use as much information as possible. It begins with a description of the conflict and resulting trade-off and then compares it to the field of manufacturing, which has found ways to deal with a similar issue. Universal information modules are introduced as the solution - these allow the manufacturing principle of mass customization to be applied to technical communication. The article ends by outlining the requirements needed for supporting tools in order to adopt this solution.

Rombauts, Yves. Cherryleaf (2005). Articles>Content Management


Applying Agile Methods in Rapidly Changing Environments   (PDF)

The authors (both coming from a heavyweight software development environment) describe their approach to transferring a heavyweight method into a more agile approach. One can argue whether the described result is intermediate or final, the the process described and the choices made are well worth studying.

Kutschera, Peter and Steffen Schafer. Jeckstein.com (2001). Articles>Collaboration>Agile


Applying Audience Invoked Models to Instructional Design Methods

You should know what appeals to and motivates your audience before you approach them with a suggestion for action. The same point is also true for writers. The writer must have a good idea of who the audience is and what motivates them in order to create arguments that will convince his or her audience to not only to read the text, but also to behave in the desired fashion after they have read the text.

Cleman, Kelly A. Orange Journal, The (2001). Articles>Education>Instructional Design


Applying Brand To An Intranet

Brand has become an integral part of the employee communicator's role as organizations recognize the importance of employee behaviors in building brand. When it comes time to integrate brand elements into the intranet or portal, good usability practices and testing can guide that integration, ensuring desired employee behaviors.

Wilson, Stacy and Susan Weinschenk. Communication World Bulletin (2003). Articles>Web Design>Intranets


Applying Computer Analysis and Design Techniques to Document Component-Based Software   (PDF)

Facing the challenges involved in developing documentation for component-based software (for example, object-oriented technology, intelligent agents, and distributed computing) requires a documentation strategy based on the same processes and methodologies used by such technologies. These strategies need to be adapted to meet documentation, rather than coding needs. Developing this strategy now, as component-based technology is still maturing, will help technical communicators keep pace.

Bachmann, Karen L. and Ginger Doherty. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Documentation>Software


Applying Copyleft To Non-Software Information

Copyleft contains the normal copyright statement, asserting ownership and identification of the author. However, it then gives away some of the other rights implicit in the normal copyright: it says that not only are you free to redistribute this work, but you are also free to change the work. However, you cannot claim to have written the original work, nor can you claim that these changes were created by someone else. Finally, all derivative works must also be placed under these terms.

Stutz, Michael. GNU. Articles>Intellectual Property>Copyright>Open Source


Applying Curiosity to Interaction Design: Tell Me Something I Don’t Know

Given just a bit of information, we naturally crave more. Given a puzzle, we have to solve it. So, as interaction designers, how are we using this bit of insight into human behavior?

Anderson, Stephen. Johnny Holland (2009). Articles>User Centered Design>Interaction Design>Cognitive Psychology


Applying Expectancy-Violations Theory to Online Documentation   (PDF)

A person usually expects another person to behave according to accepted norms, but how does a person respond to a message that violates his/her expectations? One theory dealing with violations of expectations is Burgeon and Hale's (1) nonverbal expectancy-violations theory. This theory posits that, under certain circumstances, violations of social norms and expectations may be an effective strategy for communicators to achieve the intended communication purpose. Although the expectancy-violations theory focuses on expectations for nonverbal behavior, such as gaze and conversational distance (2), I believe that this theory can also apply to expectations for humancomputer interaction.

Chiu, Yu-Kwong. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Documentation>Rhetoric>Online


Applying Hypertext and Hypermedia to Scholarly Journals Enables Both Product and Process Innovation   (peer-reviewed)

Early uses of hypertext technologies were associated with scholarly communication. New electronic-only journals have been quick to adopt hypertext/hypermedia technologies. Existing print journals have also started to adopt such technologies as they make the transition to parallel delivery. The widespread uptake of the World Wide Web has enabled journals to improve, enhance and transform what they do. This paper surveys these developments and places them in context.

Treloar, Andrew E. ACM Computing Surveys (1999). Articles>Publishing>Hypertext


Applying Limits to Your Writing

ometimes, your writing can get out of hand. Maybe you’re bedeviled by deadlines and can’t get going. Or maybe you’re writing something, like an article or an essay or a short story or a book, and you just can’t stop writing. It just goes on and on and on. I think we’ve all been in one of those situations at some time or another. There are any number of ways around those problems. One solution that I’ve found to be particularly effective is to apply limits to your writing. What do I mean by applying limits? Deliberately imposing constraints on what you’re writing. Those limits can take any number of forms. I usually apply three limits to my writing. Interested in find out more? Then read on.

Nesbitt, Scott. ScottNesbitt.net (2013). Articles>Writing


Applying Mathematics To Web Design

Because of its beautiful nature, mathematics has been a part of art and architectural design for ages. But it has not been exploited much for website design. This is probably because many of us regard mathematics as being antithetical to creativity. On the contrary, mathematics can be a tool to produce creative designs. That said, you don’t have to rely on math for every design. The point is that you should regard it as your friend, not a foe.

Gupta, Adit. Smashing (2010). Articles>Web Design


Applying Performance Technology Principles to Documentation   (PDF)

Technical writers often produce documentation for products or systems without first determining the best document media or even the necessity for documentation. In some instances, alternatives to documentation may best serve the product or system users. This paper describes the field of Performance Technology and illustrates how to apply principles of Performance Technology to decide when to create documentation.

Hayes, Gabby. STC Proceedings (1996). Articles>Documentation>Technology


Applying the Elaboration Likelihood Model to Technical Recommendation Reports   (PDF)

Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) can help proposal writers identify effective document design techniques and parts of arguments that are critical to persuasion. In addition, ELM has implications for other types of technical communication, including recommendation or feasibility reports. While one would anticipate that decision-makers would be willing and able to evaluate critically all arguments presented in a recommendation report, ELM explains why this is rarely so. Therefore, technical communicators can profit by understanding and using the two routes to persuasion or attitude shift, the central and peripheral routes, explained by ELM.

Engle, Carol. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Business Communication>Reports>Rhetoric


Applying Turing's Ideas to Search

Users hold search to a human standard of understanding that computers cannot as yet achieve. This is more than just a curiosity: The Turing test has something to tell us about how we can better design our website search interfaces today.

Ferrara, John. Boxes and Arrows (2008). Articles>Web Design>Search


Applying Web 2.0 Technologies to Technical Documentation

This article is based on my presentation at the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators' annual conference in October, 2006. Every now and then, there is a change in the value of what technical authors deliver. These are moments when organisations pay attention to technical documentation. This is because they recognise that these changes mean they can create something that will be of real value to the business and to their customers. In recent years, there have been three "waves of interestingness". The first wave was the introduction of Windows Help (WinHelp). The second major wave was the introduction of the Internet and intranets. This was a time when organisations looked at how they could transfer large amounts of information from paper to online. They were faced with issues such as how users could access and understand all this information easily - issues that technical communicators deal with on a day-to-day basis. I believe we're just about to approach the new wave, which we have called "Tech Writing 2.0".

Pratt, Ellis. Cherryleaf (2006). Articles>Web Design>Documentation>Technical Writing


Applying Web 2.0 to Technical Documentation

This article is based on my presentation at the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators' annual conference, in October 2006, on new trends in technical authoring. It covers the application of Web 2.0 technologies to technical documentation.

Windows 7 Help and Resources (2006). Articles>Documentation>Web Design>Social Networking


Applying XSLT to XML Using ASP.NET

This article explains the basics of XSL to transform XML documents using simple examples. We will gradually focus on using ASP.NET to implement XSLT for any XML document and even to database queries. It introduces different ways of implementing XSL from browser's perspective and server's perspective. We will also discuss some tips to generate automated XML from database queries and then transform them to HTML using XSL transformations.

Chaterjee, Jagadish. ASP Free (2004). Articles>Information Design>XSL>ASP


Appreciating Libxslt

The two most well-known XSLT processors are probably the Apache project's Xalan (available in both a Java and C++ version) and the Java-based Saxon, which was written by XSLT 2.0 specification editor Michael Kay. If those are the only two XSLT processors you currently use, it's worth checking out Daniel Veillard's libxslt.

DuCharme, Bob. XML.com (2005). Articles>Information Design>Software>XSL


An Approach to Visually Creating and Editing Nested Compound Document

Currently, visual XML structured authoring applications can typically handle a small number of XML vocabularies. In some cases, they can even handle them in limited nested scenarios. One of the purposes of creating XML documents with compound vocabularies is to present related information on a given topic in different manners (tables, charts, etc). The synchronization of views between objects of different vocabularies in real-time editing helps authors realize this potential. In this presentation we will discuss an approach to visually creating, editing and synchronizing, nested compound XML vocabularies within one document. The open nature of the architecture enables developers to create plug-ins for new vocabularies including the ability to define synchronization. Also this architecture provides simple method to define visualization of a new vocabulary by utilizing plug-ins already developed and activated.

Wake, Nobuaki and Junpei Aoki. IDEAlliance (2004). Articles>Document Design>Information Design>XML


Approaches to Professionalism--A Codified Body of Knowledge   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Professionalism is a recurrent topic of discussion—formally and informally—among technical communication scholars and practitioners. In the diversity among our programs and approaches to technical communication, the difficult issues surrounding certification in technical communication is a professional goal that major stakeholders have typically considered too complex to be addressed. Increasingly, however, many of these stakeholders agree that we can no longer continue to ignore these complex issues. In an earlier article, I have described twelve issues that must be addressed and tasks that must be undertaken to move the profession towards meaningful certification. In that discussion, I also suggest approaches to begin the work on each of these steps. In this present discussion, I address the first of these steps—codification of the bodies of knowledge through the development of an encyclopedia of technical and professional communication. In order to accomplish this, I describe the categories of knowledge in the field and the editorial and organizational structure of the project.

Rainey, Kenneth T. IEEE PCS (2005). Articles>TC>Professionalism>Body of Knowledge



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