A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Allowing for Personal Choice -- HTML or Text E-Mail

When you ask readers whether they want your e-mail newsletter in HTML or text e-mail, be sure to honor their preference.

Allen, Cliff. Allen.com (2001). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Are You Drowning in E-Mail?

We can't halt the flow of incoming email messages, but we can give you some suggestions that will help you become a better email communicator.

Blicq, Ronald S. TC-FORUM (1999). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Are You Guilty of Sloppy E-mails? It Can Cost You

Some of the nicest people we know send the most thoughtless e-mails. Many are telegraphic, with a smattering of disconnected words and abbreviations, leaving the reader to fill in the blanks. Most are dashed off without review and arrive in their native state: confusing, grammarless and brimful of spelling errors. That's not even to mention lack of logic and transitions.

Canavor, Natalie and Claire Meirowitz. Communication World Bulletin (2006). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


The Art And Science Of The Email Signature

Email signatures are so easy to do well, that it’s really a shame how often they’re done poorly. Many people want their signature to reflect their personality, provide pertinent information and more, but they can easily go overboard. Why are email signatures important? They may be boring and the last item on your list of things to get right, but they affect the tone of every email you write. Email signatures contain alternative contact details, pertinent job titles and company names, which help the recipient get in touch when emails are not responded to.

Neville, Kat. Smashing (2010). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Automated Email From Websites to Customers

Transactional email can be a website's customer service ambassador, but messages must first survive a ruthless selection process in the user's in-box. Differentiating your message from spam is thus the first duty of email design.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2003). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


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


A Beginner's Guide to Effective Email

In a conversation, there is some minimum of shared context. You might be in the same physical location, and even on the phone you have, at minimum, commonality of time. When you generate a document for paper, usually there is some context embedded in the medium: the text is in the proceedings of a conference, written on a birthday card, handed to your professor with a batch of Econ 101 term papers, or something similar. With email, you can't assume anything about a sender's location, time, frame of mind, profession, interests, or future value to you. This means, among other things, that you need to be very, very careful about giving your receivers some context. This section will give specific strategies for doing so.

Sherwood, Kaitlin Duck. Webfoot.com (1998). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Buzz Launch Wasn’t Flawed, Google’s Intentions Are

Last week Google exposed private aspects of Gmail accounts by default in its introduction of Buzz and then backtracked to offer what can only be described as user-hostile instructions to remedy it. It’s ludicrous to think that the Buzz fiasco was simply a result of under-testing. Indeed, it was not an implementation snafu at all, as often described. It was a reflection of the strategy with which Google has decided to capture the enormous territory left up for grabs by the decline of Microsoft.

Kontra. counternotions (2010). Articles>Social Networking>Content Strategy>Email


Can Email Be Responsive?

Building on the principles of responsive web design first codified by Ethan Marcotte, a revolution in email design is giving birth to an experience fast approaching that of the modern web. Subscribers need no longer be subjected to terrible reading experiences, frustrating touch targets, and tiny text.

Rodriguez, Jason. List Apart, A (2014). Articles>Business Communication>Email>Responsive


Changing Uses of Technology: Crisis Communication Responses in a Faculty Strike   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This case study of a faculty strike examines the crisis response strategies of a university and its faculty union and the changing uses of technology to communicate to key stakeholders. An analysis of the types of crisis response strategies reveals that both the university and the faculty union used defensive and ingratiation strategies to build their cases and protect their reputations. The university also used denial to argue that the strike was not disrupting operations. The university and the union both relied on e-mails, Web sites, and press releases to update their constituencies. The difference was that for the union in particular, technology both expanded the options for sending information and accelerated the flow of information when conditions changed. The case study illustrates that technology has diminished an organization's control of crisis communication by opening numerous communication channels for others to use to explain their positions and build support.

Vielhaber, Mary E. and John L. Waltman. JBC (2008). Articles>Business Communication>Email


Collaboration via E-mail and Internet Relay Chat: Understanding Time and Technology   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The purpose of this preliminary study was to structure and begin to study how collaborators working across distance perceive and use e-mail and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) to facilitate their collaborative and decision-making processes. Students from the University of Western Sydney and the University of Minnesota worked in pairs to respond to four decision-making scenarios over a four-week period. Using e-mail, students came to a decision more quickly than when using IRC, and when IRC was slow, students reverted to a series of rapid-fire e-mail messages to facilitate their work. Students appreciated the cross-cultural experience; however, they struggled to create a shared communicative context via the Internet.

Hill Duin, Ann and Ray Archee. Technical Communication Online (1996). Articles>Collaboration>Email


Computer Networks and the Technical Writer   (PDF)

Electronic mail and the computer networks it travels over provide new tools for the fechnical writer to use in researching, composing, and submitting documents. Over these networks, the writer can query authors, seek guidance from other professionals, browse through electronic libraries, and exploit other information resources to aid the writing process.

O'Hara, Frederick M., Jr. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>Business Communication>Email


Configuring Information Rights Management for Messaging in Outlook 2003

Information Rights Management (IRM), a new feature in Microsoft® Office 2003, can help prevent sensitive information from being distributed to or read by people who do not have permission to access the content. In Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003, users can create and send e-mail messages with restricted permission to help prevent messages from being forwarded, printed, or copied and pasted. Microsoft Office 2003 documents, workbooks, and presentations that are attached to messages with restricted permission are automatically restricted as well.

Microsoft (2004). Articles>Software>Email>Security


A Critical Look at E-mail   (PDF)

E-mail usage is so common and popular now that we hardly think about it. Because of its prevalence, many people have written critically about it, compelling us to look at our own usage.

Crawley, Charles R. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Communication>Online>Email


CSS and Email, Kissing in a Tree

Despite prevailing wisdom to the contrary, you can safely deploy HTML emails styled with good old-fashioned CSS. If you're not content to roll over and use font tags in your HTML emails, read on.

Wyner, Mark. List Apart, A (2004). Design>Web Design>CSS>Email


Designing Email Messages for Corporate Readers: a Case Study of Effective and Ineffective Rhetorical Strategies At a Fortune 100 Company   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Within the last 12 years, email has emerged as the most commonly used form of written communication in the corporate workplace. A 1997 study, conducted by Office Team, revealed that a majority of American executives favored face-to-face meetings to any other form of communication; only 34% preferred email (Oh, 2007). By contrast, a 2005 survey sponsored by the Economist Intelligence Unit indicated that two thirds of corporate executives prefer email as a means of business communication compared to the next most popular options—desktop telephones and mobile phones. These are each favored by just 16% of those participating in the study (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2005). More recently, a 2008 study performed by the Pew Internet & American Life Project revealed that 72% of all full-time employees have an email account that they use for work, and 37% of those workers “check them constantly” (Madden & Jones, 2008). Several factors have contributed to the widespread use of email. This form of communication is generally rapid, is more economical than distributing or mailing printed documents, and permits simultaneous communication with large numbers of recipients.

DeKay, Sam. Business Communication Quarterly (2010). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


Does Email Communication Increase Participation in Organizational Decision Making?

One of the main issues crossing the fields of organization theory, communication theory, and information technology is whether email communication does increase participation in decision making. Common sense and some case studies suggest the so-called "democratization argument": since email allows direct (non-filtered) communication between people and identity/status concealment, it enhances more freely and easy participation in decision making.

Biggiero, Lucio. Social Science Research Network (2008). Articles>Collaboration>Organizational Communication>Email


E-mail and Tattoos: A Primer on Netiquette   (PDF)

Rogers and Perri discuss the hazards of e-mail and present five tips for using it properly in a professional environment.

Rogers, David J. and Monica C. Perri. Intercom (2000). Articles>Technology>Software>Email


E-Mail in the Classroom Workplace   (PDF)

E-mail usage creates special concerns in education, and teachers must learn how to make e-mail a more effective tool. Students must be taught how to use e-mail for purposes other than informal communication and to evaluate sources of information gathered through correspondence. Although e-mail presents problems in how and what students learn, it also can foster international learning experiences, provide some students with a clearer method of expressing their ideas, and increase collaboration.

Porter, Lynnette R. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Education>Online>Email


E-Mail is Dead

What did the kids say? Email is dead. It's hanging on as a mode of communication for adults (that's us) and within businesses. Kids will even use it to communicate with adults. But for the majority of kids, email has been replaced by two things: text messaging and social networks.

Lentz, Michelle. Write Technology (2007). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


E-Mail Notifications: Making Unsubscription Easy

Unsubscribing email newsletters and other email notification services can be an unpleasant and time-consuming experience. Most unsubscribe problems can be avoided by making the subscribers email visible and linking to an unsubscribe page in all emails.

Bohmann, Kristoffer. Bohmann Usability (2001). Articles>Usability>Email


E-tiquette: Rules of the Road   (PDF)

Hay-Roe presents nine rules for writing clear, concise e-mail messages.

Hay-Roe, Hugh. Intercom (2001). Articles>Business Communication>Correspondence>Email


The Effect of Typeface on the Perception of Email

This study investigated the effect that a font has on the reader's perception of an email. Based on a previous study by Shaikh, Chaparro, and Fox (2006), a sample email message was presented in three fonts (Calibri, Comic Sans, and Gigi). The three chosen fonts represented a high, medium, and low level of congruency for email messages. The least congruent typeface (Gigi) resulted in different perceptions of the email document and its author. However, no significant differences were found between the moderately and highly congruent fonts.

Shaikh, A. Dawn, Doug Fox and Barbara S. Chaparro. Usability News (2007). Design>Typography>Online>Email


Email Feedback Mechanisms for Online Help

Email has become a universal conversation mechanism for business to business notification, customer to business communication, you name it. If you’re not doing so already, you can add email links so that readers can send emailed feedback to your technical documentation team. With advanced mailto markup you can automatically enter a subject line, indicate who the email will go to, as well as enter courtesy copies and blind courtesy copies to additional people. Your inbox should not be overwhelmed with feedback emails, but a link should give customers the feeling that their comments are collected and concerns addressed. This is conversational documentation at its simplest.

Gentle, Anne. Just Write Click (2010). Articles>Documentation>Help>Email


Email in the Workplace: Employees Perceive Email Differently than Employers

Argues that employees' misunderstanding of email in the workplace has in part stemmed from employers not being direct about the need to monitor it. By being clear and direct, employers can possibly reduce misuse and ultimately the need for such intrusive email monitoring.

Knox, Jessica. Orange Journal, The (2005). Articles>Workplace>Email>Privacy



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