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.



Avoid Long-Term Strategies

When it comes to information management or content management strategies, particularly at the enterprise level, there is a strong tendency (and desire) to create long-term plans. This briefing will explore some of the issues encountered when creating and executing long-term plans, and will argue for an approach that delivers benefits on a much more frequent basis.

Robertson, James. Step Two (2007). Articles>Content Management>Content Strategy


Avoid Santa Claus Approach to Content Management

The Santa Claus approach to content management creates a content management software wish list. It believes in the magic of technology to sweep away any and every problem. Typically, those who believe in Santa don't believe in defining their processes, or figuring out just why they need a website in the first place.

McGovern, Gerry. New Thinking (2004). Articles>Content Management>Web Design>Technology


Avoid the SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) Documentation Nightmare With These Five Tips

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act has been called the most comprehensive reform of corporate law since the Securities Exchange Act was passed in 1934. The effects of SOX are far reaching. Its provisions govern actions by management, audit committees, and boards of directors of public companies. Like it or not, Sarbanes-Oxley is here to stay. Its impact on IT departments is major and growing. The reaction of many IT groups is to document everything in sight in an attempt to cover themselves. In the end, this can be counter-productive, expensive and wasteful.

D'Amico, Vin. IT World Canada (2006). Articles>Documentation>Regulatory Writing


Avoid the Use of Familiar Phrases and Messages in Your Emails

Sometimes copywriters and content writers write in clichés. To a reader, the line has barely any meaning, and certainly no impact. Why not? Because it is too familiar. Because he or she has read the same phrase so many times before, in too many other places.

Usborne, Nick. Excess Voice (2006). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Avoid the Void

There are plenty of occasions when coding JavaScript events where you simply need to call a function, for which an entire event registration model is too lengthy. The most commonly used method is to bind your event to an anchor link. The user clicks and the onclick event is fired, calling a reference to a function. Because the user isn’t actually visiting a URL, something has to be done with the href attribute.

Reindel, Brian. d'bug (2008). Articles>Web Design>Standards>JavaScript


Avoid Unnecessary Ajax Traffic with Session State

Where possible, creating Web applications -- including Ajax-based applications -- in a RESTful way avoids a large class of bugs. However, a pitfall of REST (REpresentational State Transfer) is sending duplicate data across similar XMLHttpRequests. This tip shows how the moderate use of session cookies can maintain just enough server-side state to significantly reduce client-server traffic, while still allowing fallback to cookie-free operation.

Mertz, David. IBM (2007). Articles>Web Design>Programming>Ajax


Avoiding Bias from the Survivor Effect

Only a few of the survey sites we analyzed in 2000 are still around. We can safely assume that the surviving sites are not a random sample of the original group, but rather that significant differences exist between the sites that made it and those that died. Survival might be due partly to luck, but it is mainly a result of good management and an understanding of Internet fundamentals. Thus, the surviving sites are likely to be disproportionately clued-in about what it takes to run an online business.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2002). Articles>Usability>Methods>Web Design


Avoiding Global Misunderstandings   (PDF)

When we think of miscommunication across national boundaries, the mostmemorable blunders often relate to problems with translation. Butthere are far more subtle pitfalls thatcan occur. Here, Angela Sinickas shares some of the common mistakes that can lead global communications to miss the mark.

Sinickas, Angela D. Sinickas Communications (2004). Articles>Business Communication>International


Avoiding Repetitive-Stress Injuries: A Guide for the Technical Communicator

Writers and editors in particular put in an awful lot of miles at the keyboard every day. One serious problem is the risk of so-called 'repetitive-stress injury' (RSI)--simplistically, any injury that results from overuse of a body part without giving it time to recover. In fact, 'overuse injury' is probably a more immediately obvious term, and given how much time many of us spend using computers, overuse is indeed a risk.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. TECHWR-L (2004). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Ergonomics>RSI


Avoiding Repetitive-Stress Injuries: A Guide for the Technical Communicator

Writers and editors in particular put in an awful lot of miles at the keyboard every day. For example, I commonly spend a solid 8 hours typing. Writers and editors in particular put in an awful lot of miles at the keyboard every day. For example, I commonly spend a solid 8 hours typing. Then there's that darned mouse. W. Wayt Gibbs, writing in the June 2002 Scientific American, used the Mouse Odometer software (www.modometer.com) to monitor his habits and found that in a single 5-day period, he'd recorded 2440 feet of mouse movement and nearly 22 000 mouse clicks. It's no wonder computer users sometimes experience serious physical problems.It's no wonder computer users sometimes experience serious physical problems.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. TECHWR-L (2005). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>Ergonomics>RSI


Avoiding Wrong Turns in the Shrinking Global Village

With the global village growing smaller every year, more and more communication professionals are taking on assignments that span a wide range of countries and cultures. Cross-border responsibilities require that you constantly expand your horizons and learn about new places and people. At the same time, it can be more than a little daunting to get up to speed on each country’s business and social conventions—and when the two do and don’t mix.

Bird, Shelley. Communication World Bulletin (2005). Articles>Business Communication>International>Cultural Theory


Awareness Versus Production: Probing Students’ Antecedent Genre Knowledge

This article explores the role of students’ prior, or antecedent, genre knowledge in relation to their developing disciplinary genre competence by drawing on an illustrative example of an engineering genre-competence assessment. The initial outcomes of this diagnostic assessment suggest that students’ ability to successfully identify and characterize rhetorical and textual features of a genre does not guarantee their successful writing performance in the genre. Although previous active participation in genre production (writing) seems to have a defining influence on students’ ability to write in the genre, such participation appears to be a necessary but insufficient precondition for genre-competence development. The authors discuss the usefulness of probing student antecedent genre knowledge early in communication courses as a potential source for macrolevel curriculum decisions and microlevel pedagogical adjustments in course design, and they propose directions for future research.

Artemeva, Natasha and Fox, Janna. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2011). Articles>Education>Grammar


The Awesome Power of Visualization 2: Death and Taxes 2007

Visuals that provide insights come from 1) a deep understanding of the goal / objectives 2) from thinking beyond what standard trend lines or stacked bar graphs can provide. Something non-normal to grab attention and yet communicate insights (sort of already contain recommendations and action items and not just data).

Kaushik, Avinash. Occam's Razor (2007). Articles>Graphic Design>Technical Illustration>Log Analysis


The Awesomeness Factor: Cameron Gray on Agile and UX

One of the significant challenges with Agile is that the teams are effectively self managing. This can present an issue when you have a significant number of junior team members. At Mindflash.com we do not have layers of management within the development organization so everyone is responsible for ensuring that they are writing code up to the standards of the organization. For the more junior folks, this means they have to ramp up their skills very quickly and work closely with the more senior members of the team. We are definitely heavily weighted on the senior side of things but I think that is generally appropriate for any team as small as ours.

Boersma, Peter. Adaptive Path (2011). Articles>Interviews>Collaboration>Agile


Awful Writer or “Awe”full Writer

If you are reading this article in INDUS, I assume that the majority of you must be technical writers. The peer-review checklist might be firmly etched in your mind. Please make sure this checklist in disabled. If doing so is not possible, just click the X sign at the top-right corner of the screen. Also, if you have no sense of humor, it is mandatory to click the X sign. I make no apologies for the grammatical errors or syntax errors or sentence structure or comma splices or… whew..pant..pant… this ‘or’ is making me breathless. In fact, I am thriving on these errors because my creative skills are running riot. I have expressed my thoughts in an unconventional manner and, believe me, the feeling is exhilarating and invigorating.

Menon, Sangeeta. Indus (2009). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing


Axiomatic CSS and Lobotomized Owls

Managing flow content can get unwieldy—too many class selectors can become a specificity headache, nested styling can get redundant, and content editors don’t always understand the presentational markup. Heydon Pickering offers an unexpected option for handling cascading styles more efficiently: a variation on the universal selector.

Pickering, Heydon. List Apart, A (2014). Articles>Web Design>CSS>Standards


Babelfish: Real-Time Machine Translation on the Internet

On December 9, 1997, Digital Equipment Corporation and SYSTRAN A.G. launched AltaVista Translation Service, the first European language translation service for Web content. For the first time, non-English speaking users can translate information on the predominantly English speaking Web in real time.

Ament, Kurt. TC-FORUM (1998). Articles>Language>Localization>Machine Translation


Baby Boomers May Drive Accessibility

The millions in America who navigate the world with a physical disability are poised to receive a lot of company over the next 20 years. The Baby Boomer generation is about to flood the population and promises to create a future in which centenarians are not at all unusual. With increased longevity comes more frequent occurrence of disabilities, thus demanding increased attention to making accessible technology more widely available.

Patterson, Darby. Simply Raydeen (2009). Articles>Accessibility>Usability>Elderly


Baby Duck Syndrome

What if something neither looks nor quacks like a duck, but users think it is a duck? The cranky user comments on baby duck syndrome and how it can trap users with systems and interfaces that don't really meet their needs.

Seebach, Peter. IBM (2005). Articles>User Interface>Human Computer Interaction>Usability


Baby Steps Can Lead To Giant Leaps In the Way Your Organization Approaches Usability   (PDF)

Until recently, Landmark Graphics’ UNIX Documentation Group had written user documentation based upon information that was gleaned from surveys, fellow workers, and personal experience. We had little contact with our users and little opportunity to see how our users worked. Last year, we expanded our efforts. We talked to User Groups, supervised a booth at the company’s trade show, and began to visit our clients on site. But we didn’t stop there... we reported the results of our study at our yearly developer’s conference, and we developed a company-wide Usability SIG (Special Interest Group). This paper focuses on our experiences.

Stark, Mary Jo and Mary Rio. STC Proceedings (2000). Articles>Usability


Back Off or Show Off

When the news or topic is most serious, understate. When the topic is least serious, exaggerate.

Clark, Roy Peter. Poynter Online (2004). Articles>Writing>Journalism


Back To Basics: How Poor Usability Effects Accessibility

In recent user testing with a range of participants including Visually Impaired (VIP) and Blind users we found that the majority of problems were common across all groups. However the effect of poor usability is more severe for users with visual disabilities. Surprisingly all of the issues are very familiar and are easy to fix so we thought we’d revisit some of the basics of accessible web design.

Frontend Infocentre (2009). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Usability


Back to Fund-amentals: The Business Realities of Funding for Performance Support Projects   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Although electronic performance support systems (EPSSs) sound like exciting projects to technical communicators and instructional designers, many proposed EPSSs stay on the drawing boards because the organizations for whom they were designed choose not to fund them. In general, EPSSs require more up-front investment than traditional documentation and training. That additional expense, sometimes increasing up-front expenses by several times, could be enough to stop a project unless the designers can explain how the organization can benefit from this additional investment. In fact, most often, these organizations decline to fund the proposed EPSSs because the financial benefits of the EPSSs are not explained, and so the proposed EPSS is perceived to exceed the cost of designing and developing it. In other words, the businesses do not perceive that the EPSS is a good investment of their money.

Driscoll, Margaret and Colin Hynes. Technical Communication Online (2002). Articles>Content Management>Proposals


Back to School: Convincing the Boss   (PDF)

Becker discusses how to convince skeptical bosses that allowing technical communicators to enroll in continuing education classes will benefit the entire company.

Becker, Lynn A. Intercom (2000). Articles>Education


Back to the Future: Instructional Practices and Discourse Values   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

When I think of writing-across-the curriculum—especially when asked to look toward the future, I am drawn to looking back to my initial involvement in WAC in the mid-1970's.

Herrington, Anne J. LLAD (1997). Articles>Language>Writing Across the Curriculum



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