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.




An artifact simply means any product of human workmanship or any object modified by man. It is used to denote anything from a hammer to a computer system, but it is often used in the meaning 'a tool' in HCI or Interaction Design terminology. The term is also used to denote activities in a design process.

Soegaard, Mads. Interaction-Design.org (2006). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


Artistic Distance

If you are passionate about what you create, it is impossible to completely disassociate yourself from your work in order to objectively evaluate and then improve it. But the ability to achieve “artistic distance”—that is, to attain a place that allows you to contemplate your design on its own merits—will enable you to improve your own work immeasurably and, ultimately, to cast off the immature shackles of ego. Learn to let your work shine by letting go of it. Acquire the knack of achieving artistic distance.

Burton, Paul. List Apart, A (2012). Articles>Web Design>Graphic Design


As IE8 Begins To Fall, IE Finally Drops Below 50 Percent Browser Share

It was just two years ago that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer web browser controlled 67 percent of the worldwide market, according to data from web analytics company StatCounter. It has been all downhill from there. According to the the latest data from the company, last month, September 2010, marked the first time IE fell below the 50 percent share mark in the past decade.

Siegler, M.G. TechCrunch (2010). Articles>Web Design>Standards>Web Browsers


As It Was in the Beginning: Distance Education and Technology Past, Present, and Future   (peer-reviewed)

Many features of present-day Distance Education (DE) writing instruction would have been inconceivable when DE was first undertaken: On-demand instruction, nearly instantaneous content delivery, and virtual classrooms capable of facilitating real-time conversations between students on different continents about events that may have taken place only minutes ago, a half a world away. All of these things would have seemed as unlikely to early DE practitioners as holding classes on the moon, yet the many of the primary issues and concerns of twenty-first century DE, particularly with respect to the significance and effects of technology, have persisted throughout the many years of its existence. Now, as DE courses are being developed and carried out by an unprecedented number of university-level educators, it is time to reexamine the long history of DE in hopes of better understanding the ways in which seemingly revolutionary developments such as virtual classroom and e-mail collaborations have more in common conceptually with early iterations of DE than might be supposed. This work represents an attempt to identify some of those commonalities, with respect to both the ways in which DE technology has functioned in particular historical contexts and to their significance to the field of DE in a more global sense. It is hoped that through such investigations we will become better able to shape DE courses so as to take advantage of the functionalities of new technologies without losing the benefits of DE that have traditionally drawn students and teachers to it.

Fishman, T. Kairos (2003). Articles>Education>Online>History


As Simple As Possible

The virtues of simplicity are well-known among experienced systems designers. And many of the things that are 'right' with simpler software systems are also applicable to Web pages and site designs.

Sullivan, Terry. All Things Web (1996). Articles>Usability>Web Design


As the Page Scrolls

Users say they don’t like to scroll. As a result, many designers try to keep their web pages short. But one of the most significant findings of our research on web-site usability is that users are perfectly willing to scroll. However, they’ll only do it if the page gives them strong clues that scrolling will help them find what they’re looking for.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering (1998). Articles>Web Design>Usability


"As we are Both Deceived": Strategies of Status Repair in 19th Century Hudson's Bay Company Correspondence   (PDF)

Little attention has yet been paid to the unique workplace that the Hudson's Bay Company constituted and the unique discursive activity on which that workplace fundamentally depended.

Venema, Kathleen. Rhetor (2004). Articles>Business Communication>History


As We May Think

Professionally our methods of transmitting and reviewing the results of research are generations old and by now are totally inadequate for their purpose.

Bush, Vannevar. Atlantic Monthly (1945). Articles>Collaboration>Research>History


Ask Jeeves and Urinating Canines

First, there were butlers. Then, there were search engines. Today, there is Jeeves, a hybrid less expensive than the former and more user-friendly than the latter. Others have followed in Jeeves's footsteps, but his loafers are hard to fill. While he is no longer an original, he continues to be invaluable for net-novices and net-addicts alike.

Berkowitz, David. WebWord (2000). Articles>Web Design>Search


Ask mb: What the TK?

Confused by wacky mag-world jargon? From the lede to the kicker, with a nut graf in between, here's mb's handy glossary.

Mitchell, Celeste. mediabistro.com (2003). Articles>Language>Publishing>Writing


Ask Your Phone   (PDF)

Grattan introduces Intercom readers to voice portals, an emergent technology that allows phone access to Internet-based information.

Grattan, Naomi. Intercom (2001). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Interface>Voice


Asking for Help is a Productivity Tool

I know some people see asking questions as a sign of weakness or insecurity (and believe others will view them that way), and that asking questions can produce answers we don’t want to hear. Both of those possible results pale in comparison to the potential good that just sitting down and asking questions can produce.

Meloni, Julie. Prof Hacker (2010). Articles>Collaboration>Help>Project Management


Asking for Help is a Productivity Tool

I know some people see asking questions as a sign of weakness or insecurity (and believe others will view them that way), and that asking questions can produce answers we don’t want to hear. Both of those possible results pale in comparison to the potential good that just sitting down and asking questions can produce.

Meloni, Julie. Chronicle of Higher Education (2010). Articles>Collaboration>Help


Asking Questions About Internet Behavior :: UXmatters

What are we to do if we really need, during usability testing, to get some sort of handle on Internet experience? Perhaps for comparison across usability test sessions or for measuring progress in some way?

Jarrett, Caroline. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Usability>Testing>Methods


Asking Questions is Key

I think one of the hardest things in technical writing, especially for new hires, is to be assigned to document a product or feature that you know nothing about.

Technically Speaking (2009). Articles>Interviewing>Technical Writing>SMEs


Asking Your Users, Part 1

We tech writers need to know what our readers need. One of the simplest ways to find out is to just ask the users. However, the most obvious questions aren’t necessarily the best ones. Today, I look at some questions that don’t work as well as you might think.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Interviewing


Asking Your Users, Part 2

To get the most out of a user survey, make sure your users can give you answers which are measurable and actionable. This is, in my experience, the key to a good user survey.

Weber, Kai. Kai's Tech Writing Blog (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Surveys


Aspects of Design Quality

Usability scores for 51 websites show some correlation between navigation, content, and feature quality, but no connections to other usability areas.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2008). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Case Studies


Assemble a Cross-Platform Firefox Extension

XUL is a surprisingly easy way to build cross-platform browser extensions or even stand-alone applications. Discover how to build powerful, flexible Mozilla browser extensions that go beyond the capabilities of other tools like embedded scripting languages or CGI--because they're built right into the user's browser.

Ogbuji, Uche. IBM (2007). Articles>Information Design>XML>Web Browsers


Assertions of Expertise in Online Product Reviews   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In online consumer reviews on Web sites such as Epinions, laypeople write and post their evaluations of technical products. But how do they get readers to take their opinions seriously? One way that online reviewers establish credibility is to assert expertise. This article describes 10 types of assertions that online reviewers used (along with the three broader categories of these types), explaining the method used to test the types for reliability. This testing revealed that the types are reliable. This study lays the groundwork for understanding how reviewers construct expertise and, therefore, credibility and for gauging readers' perceptions of reviews that contain these assertions.

Mackiewicz, Jo M. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2010). Articles>Writing>Technology>Online


Assess Your Publication's Value and Impact

The next time your boss asks you, "So what has the publications done for us lately?", have some of the following measurements to hand over.

Sinickas, Angela D. Sinickas Communications (2000). Articles>Business Communication>Newsletters>Bandwidth


Assessing a Hybrid Format   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

As college instructors endeavor to integrate technology into their classrooms, the crucial question is, 'How does this integration affect learning?' This article reports an assessment of a series of online modules the author designed and piloted for a business communication course that she presented in a hybrid format (a combination of computer classroom sessions and independent online work). The modules allowed the author to use classroom time for observation of and individualized attention to the composing process. Although anecdotal evidence suggested that this system was highly effective, other assessment tools provided varying results. An anonymous survey of the students who took this course confirmed that the modules were effective in teaching important concepts; however, a blind review of student work produced mixed results.

Katz, Susan M. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2008). Articles>Education>Instructional Design>Online


Assessing Assessments: The Inequality of Electronic Testing

Computer and Internet based tests are used for a variety of purposes. From entering education or employment, to improving basic learning, people everywhere are taking electronically formatted tests. With the advancement of testing from traditional paper-based tests to technologically advanced electronic tests, people reap the benefits of easier access to tests, faster response times, and greater reliability and validity of tests. However, persons with disabilities are being left out of the picture and out of many typically-administered tests.

Lyman, Michael, Cyndi Rowland and Paul Bohman. WebAIM (2006). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Assessment


Assessing Excellence: Using Activity Theory to Understand Assessment Practices in Engineering Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In the workplace, communication serves not as an end in itself, with features that are “good” or “bad,” but as a tool for mediating a range of professional activities, and effective documents are presentations are those that achieve their goals. Yet assessment methods in technical and professional communication often continue to rely on an evaluation of features apart from the intended work of the document. In this paper, we use activity theory as a lens to explore both the criteria for effective communication and the degree to which portfolio assessment methods can be applied to effectively assess student learning in this domain.

Paretti, Marie C. and Christine Bala Burgoyne. IEEE PCS (2009). Articles>Scientific Communication>Engineering>Assessment


Assessing Information Needs of Diverse Users to Guide Web Design and Content Development   (PDF)

This paper presents a qualitative study of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's diverse users and their mental models regarding injury-related content. The study employed an innovative modified contextual inquiry method utilizing tailored, in-depth interviews with five distinct user groups. Included in this paper is a detailed description of the background, framework, and method used for this study. Analysis of the full results was still in process at the due date of this paper. The results will be in the presentation's slide set and available from the STC website www.stc.org.

Pettit Jones, Colleen and Susan J. Robinson. STC Proceedings (2004). Articles>Web Design>Scientific Communication>Biomedical



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