A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Comparing Powerpoint Experts' and University Students' Opinions About PowerPoint Presentations   (members only)

Technical communication instructors want to help students, as well as professionals, design effective PowerPoint presentations. Toward this end, I compare the advice of academic and industry experts about effective PowerPoint presentation design to survey responses from university students about slide text, visual elements, animations, and other issues related to PowerPoint presentation design and delivery. Based on this comparison, I suggest some topics, such as PowerPoint's Slide Sorter view, that technical communication instructors and other presentation instructors might address when they cover presentations in their classes or seminars.

Mackiewicz, Jo M. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2008). Articles>Presentations>Assessment>Microsoft PowerPoint


A Comparison of Questionnaires for Assessing Website Usability   (PDF)

How well do web site usability questionnaires apply to the assessment of websites? Can a web site questionnaire work well as an adjunct to a usability test, with a relatively small number of users? This is a handy reference I use from time to time when putting together new usability questionnaires. It contains good reminders of best practices.

Tullis, Thomas S. and Jacqueline N. Stetson. Usability Professionals Association (2004). Presentations>Web Design>Usability>Assessment


A Comparison of Three Visual Help Authoring Tools

What Are These Tools? Screen recorders that let you: record a series of screens as frames in a movie – like chaining together screen shots; annotate the frames with text captions, high-lights, and other effects for enhanced learning and explanation; add testing – informally through “dead-end” quizzes or formally using eLearning; publish the result.

Perlin, Neil E. SlideShare (2007). Presentations>Documentation>Software>Help


Complexities Of Usability Testing   (PDF)

Usability testing has proven itself in improving product usability, but actually planning, doing testing, and interpreting results are not always straightforward. Interpretation of the results of usability testing, changes to improves usability, and general inferences to be drawn from specific tests are extremely difficult to make with accuracy. After working through the practicalities and politics of usability testing itself you must then draw conclusions and support them People who have done a lot of testing will find these problems familiar.

Ridgway, Lenore S. STC Proceedings (1994). Presentations>Usability>Methods>Testing


Complexity Theory as a Way of Understanding our Role in the World-Wide Web   (PDF)

Complexity theory offers a way of understanding our role within the World-Wide Web. Postulating a rhetorical object based on object-oriented analysis and design, we can harness a number of ideas from complexity theory to gain a new perspective on the Web. This paper reviews a number of complexity ideas that may help technical communicators grapple with the exponential growth in the volume of inter-related and interacting rhetorical objects on the Web, viewing the rhetorical situation as the result of the law of increasing returns, which has brought us through a phase transition to a new environment, with its own emergent properties, creating new roles for writers, and new work for managers.

Price, Jonathan R. STC Proceedings (1998). Presentations>Web Design>Theory


Concept, Task, Reference: A Practical Guide to Choosing the Right Topic Type

This presentation is for beginning to intermediate users of DITA. It's based on my experience with projects on which I'm project manager, information architect, and writer.

Kunz, Lawrence D. SDI Global Solutions (2009). Presentations>Information Design>XML>DITA


Concrete Methods that Promote Active Learning in Software Manuals   (PDF)

To learn software, passive users prefer to have concepts and procedures clearly spelled out for them, while active learners prefer experimenting with the program. When designing a manual, writers should keep both types of users in mind. Writers at WordPerfect are currently experimenting with minimalist design models that encourage active learning. One such model is an “On Your Own” section which guides users through creating a document. Another model is a visually oriented “Applications” section which provides tips on how to create a document.

Bringhurst, Robert G. STC Proceedings (1993). Presentations>Writing>Documentation


Conducting Surveys Over the World Wide Web   (PDF)

The World Wide Web presents a new medium for conducting user surveys. Using this new medium requires that survey designers pay attention not only to the time honored rules for survey construction and administration, but to new rules stemming from the new web-based technology. This paper will present suggestions and ideas for conducting web-based surveys that are based on actual survey experiences.

Gould, Emilie W., Mark Gurevich and Peter D. Pagerey. STC Proceedings (1998). Presentations>Usability>Methods


Conducting Usability Tests to Upgrade Your Web Sites   (PDF)

Usability testing can be planned and executed at various levels of complexity to enhance your Web site throughout stages of development. Include usability testing in the front-end planning and set Web site usability goals. Test early prototypes and then test again to quantify improvements. Assemble a team to plan the testing even if it is just two people. If you follow a planning and testing checklist, you should be rewarded with valuable data to analyze and upgrade your Web site. The process and outcome can enhance your company¶s reputation or improve your credibility as an information designer or developer.

Lester, Susan M.J. STC Proceedings (1999). Presentations>Web Design>Usability


Conference Humiliation: They're Tweeting Behind Your Back

Conference speakers beware: Twecklers are watching. They're out for blood. And you may be their next victim. The Twitter "back channel" can be a powerful tool to quickly knit a gathering of strangers into an online community, a place where attendees at meetings broadcast bits of sessions, share extra information such as links, and arrange social events. But the same technology can also enable a "virtual lynching." That's the phrase one twitster used to describe what happened at last month's HighEdWeb Association conference, an event that has gone down in social-media history as perhaps the most brutal abuse of the back channel yet.

Parry, Marc. Chronicle of Higher Education (2009). Articles>Presentations>Social Networking>Ethics


Confessions of a Backchannel Queen

I posted some critical comments about a speaker's presentation, and a Microsoft Research employee who I knew only by name called me out on it. He expressed concerns about whether it was "fair" to criticize someone who wasn't there to defend his or herself, and pointed out that we were a scary audience, and should be more generous. While he was right in some ways, the comment had a chilling effect, and it made me reluctant to do the kind of stream-of-consciousness chatter in the channel that I find often sparks the best responses and conversations.

Lawley, Liz. mamamusings (2009). Articles>Presentations>Social Networking>Ethics


Content Management for Single Sourcing   (PDF)

Content management is becoming a critical component of single sourcing. It provides a method for managing our single source materials and ensuring that information can be easily retrieved for reuse. This session explains what a content management system will do for you and how to use it effectively.

Rockley, Ann. STC Proceedings (2001). Presentations>Content Management>Single Sourcing


Contextual Narrative: Rethinking Communication In Our Professions

The rich contextual narrative contained in a story makes it a far more effective way of learning than by reading any procedure, best practice, or most other knowledge transfer media. What makes stories so compelling? While we have been taught that people process information, they actually learn by processing patterns. The patterns held in stories hold far more contextual meaning than we intentionally convey, and stay longer with those being told the stories. Will we ever wean customers from calling the help desk? Should we start our manuals with "once upon a time ...?" Is the answer to usability to create a giant template for all Web applications? Which patterns work, and why don't my patterns ever seem to be ones that stick?

Bailie, Rahel Anne. SlideShare (2007). Presentations>Communication>Rhetoric


Continuity Bugs in Linear Slide Presentations

Whenever you take a non linear media and flatten it (make it linear), you introduce problems of two kinds: 1) Discontinuities in logic. The audience needs to remember what was connected to what, earlier in your presentation, to see the connection logic. 2) Discontinuity in time. As time passes, the audience remembers less and less of what they heard and saw. As a result, the memory fails to reconnect the time-broken strands of a disrupted argument.

When The Scientist Presents (2009). Articles>Presentations>Scientific Communication>Microsoft PowerPoint


Conversation is the New Attention

Baby's got backchannel! If everybody at the conference is staring at their Twitter stream instead of at the person who's doing the speaking, maybe the speaker should meet them halfway. Migrating speaker presentations to the backchannel can empower the audience while enabling the speaker to listen carefully to their responses. The broadcast model of presentations is dead! Long live the conversation model.

Fahey, Christopher and Timothy Meaney. List Apart, A (2011). Articles>Presentations>Social Networking


Converting FrameMaker to HTML   (PDF)

Many FrameMaker users need to publish their documents on the World Wide Web. The best approach is to use a converter, which preserves the format and organization of the original FrameMaker document. Good converters can handle long, complex documents that contain elements such as table of contents, index, line drawings, bitmap graphics, tables, footnotes, and equations. We discuss the benefits of having a single source document for paper and Web, the techniques for creating documents that can be converted easily, and the powerful conversion tools available today.

Jackson, Ken and Sonya E. Keene. STC Proceedings (1998). Presentations>Web Design>Software>Adobe FrameMaker


Convince the Crowd With Presentations and Diagrams

Why just get by with a boring presentation when you can create a dynamite Microsoft Office PowerPoint® presentation or a colorful Microsoft Office Visio® diagram? Get ready to impress the big boss or the new team with simple ideas that go a long way.

Microsoft. Articles>Presentations>Software>Microsoft PowerPoint


Copyright and the Internet   (PDF)

As original content takes on new forms in the rapidly developing and ever-changing digital publishing environment, copyright issues become increasingly important. Publishers that work with those authors who choose to link the information from their printed books to web pages can ensure that copyright violations do not occur.

Lemiski, Karen J. STC Proceedings (2000). Presentations>Intellectual Property>Copyright>Online


Corporate 101   (PowerPoint)

Documentation contributes to customer goodwill and can increase sales.

Graham, Bonni. STC India (2003). Presentations>Management


COTS: The New Challenge of Information Integration   (PDF)

Systems engineering is moving away from specially-designed and built systems to integration of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software. COTS brings new challenges to technical communicators. In the past, we found all our information in-house, now it comes from many sources. We must change our process from pure development to information integration, and we must be part of the COTS selection process.

Lenk, Donald S. Jr. STC Proceedings (1998). Presentations>Information Design>Software


Review: The Craft of Scientific Presentations: Critical Steps to Succeed and Critical Errors to Avoid   (members only)

As the word craft in the title of the book suggests, the ability to give good presentations is not a genetically linked trait but a craft that can be learned.

Armbruster, David L. Technical Communication Online (2004). Articles>Reviews>Presentations>Scientific Communication


Create a Slideshow with the Dreamweaver Timeline

The Dreamweaver Timeline uses layers and JavaScript to create animation and interactivity. To create a series of rotating images, prepare each image at the same size in a graphics program first (i.e., Photoshop, Fireworks, ImageReady, etc.). Then insert a layer on the page. This layer will serve as a placeholder for the rotating images.

Berg, Debbie. WebDeb (2001). Design>Web Design>Presentations>Dreamweaver


Create a Voice Presentation With Impress and Audacity

Building a basic presentation that records and uses voice may be an important tool for communicating information. This project is based on employing two programs, Impress, which is the presentation program with OpenOffice, and Audacity, an easy to use sound editor, for building a voice presentation.

Linux Today (2004). Articles>Presentations>Software>OpenOffice


Creating a Magnetic Sign

An introduction to how to create a magnetic sign for indoor displays.

Hewlett-Packard. Presentations>Document Design>Streaming>Video



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