A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Rhetoric

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Visual rhetoric is the study of how document design (including the use of illustrations, charts and graphs, typography and layout) communicate, as opposed to aural or verbal messages. Visual rhetoric examines also the relationship between images and writing.

 

276.
#32675

The Magic of Metaphor

Metaphor teaches. Metaphor influences. Are you drawing on its power? Perhaps not, because many major works on writing for interactive products make little mention of it. To help encourage better use of metaphor, this column describes both the usefulness of shallow metaphors and the potential of deep metaphors, while offering tips and examples.

Jones, Colleen. UXmatters (2008). Articles>Writing>Rhetoric

277.
#32060

Make Your Content Work for You: Creating and Promoting Viral Content

With the cost of quality traffic rising and reaching and maintaining top search engine position becoming more and more difficult as EVERYONE is moving to the net, viral content blows up one of the most spouted off cliche of all time… “NOTHING IS FREE”. The exposure and added traffic that an amazing piece of content can generate is free. That’s the beauty… with a truly viral piece of content, everyone else does your promotion for you, letting you sit back and enjoy the ride.

Robbins, Kyle. ReEncoded (2008). Articles>Web Design>Writing>Rhetoric

278.
#31486

Make Your Internal Communications Memorable with Strategic Storytelling

Jean-Paul Sartre said, “We understand everything in human life through stories.” I believe that is true. We comprehend better when a message is related in story form, and we also feel a stronger rapport with the person telling the story. Why not use these memorable stories in your internal communications? When you cram too much information into a communication, training session or presentation, you’re doing a data dump on your listener. Nothing sticks. Yet, if you’ve ever had a supervisor tell a story to illustrate a point, you learned the lesson and probably enjoyed the learning process, too.

Stevenson, Doug. Communication World Bulletin (2004). Articles>Business Communication>Workplace>Rhetoric

279.
#38276

Making Logical Technical Arguments

This PowerPoint file of 25 slides presents a thorough overview of the essentials of technical argument.

conneXions (2008). Articles>Presentations>Rhetoric>Technical Writing

280.
#22259

Making Sense of Step-by-Step Procedures   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Procedural instructions that consist of only a sequence of steps will probably be executable, but nevertheless 'meaningless' to users of technical devices. This paper discusses three features that can make procedural instructions more meaningful: adding functional coordinating information, adding information about the use of the technical device in real life, and adding operational information about how the device works. The research literature supports the effectiveness of the first feature, but offers little evidence that real life elements enhance understanding of instructions. As for operational information, the research suggests that users are willing to read it, and that it contributes to better understanding and performance in the long term, but only if it is closely related to the procedure. As a conclusion, we propose a theoretical framework that assumes three levels of mental representation of instructions: syntactical, semantic, and situational.

Steehouder, Michael F., Joyce Karreman and Nicole Ummelen. ACM SIGDOC (2000). Articles>Documentation>Rhetoric>Technical Writing

281.
#29104

Making Sense of the Visual in Technical Communication: A Visual Literacy Approach to Pedagogy   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

We employ an array of terms to denote the visual; however, we have not yet agreed on a clear framework for understanding the function and relationship between visual concepts. I propose a literacy approach to the visual so that as educators, researchers, students, and practitioners, we acquire more than skills that rely on changing definitions and technologies but an intellectual faculty that provides the knowledge, understanding, and abilities that the visual affords. Through an analysis of arguments for visual instruction, I present the wayS in which scholars justify their claims about the visual. These arguments uncover the breadth and depth of the visual and contribute to a taxonomy of visual terminology.

Portewig, Tiffany Craft. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2004). Articles>TC>Education>Visual Rhetoric

282.
#29539

Making the Strange Familiar: A Pedagogical Exploration of Visual Thinking   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Scholarly conversation within the field of professional communication increasingly has focused on the practice, research, and pedagogy of visual rhetoric. Yet, visual thinking has received relatively little attention within the field. If our programs produce students who can think verbally but not visually, they risk producing writers who are visual technicians but are unable to move fluidly between and within modes of communication. This article examines the literature and pedagogical practices of visually oriented disciplines to identify strategies for helping students develop the ambidexterity of thought needed for the communication tasks of today's workplace.

Brumberger, Eva R. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Education>Graphic Design>Visual Rhetoric

283.
#34881

Making the Strange Familiar: A Pedagogical Exploration of Visual Thinking   (peer-reviewed)

Scholarly conversation within the field of professional communication increasingly has focused on the practice, research, and pedagogy of visual rhetoric. Yet, visual thinking has received relatively little attention within the field. If our programs produce students who can think verbally but not visually, they risk producing writers who are visual technicians but are unable to move fluidly between and within modes of communication. This article examines the literature and pedagogical practices of visually oriented disciplines to identify strategies for helping students develop the ambidexterity of thought needed for the communication tasks of today's workplace.

Brumberger, Eva R. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2007). Articles>Education>Visual Rhetoric>Cognitive Psychology

284.
#35138

Management Consulting and Teaching: Lessons Learned Teaching Professionals To Control Tone in Writing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In working with business executives, engineers, and government officials to improve their writing, I learned that it is much easier to teach clarity than tone. To bolster lessons on tone, I now draw on theory and research from interpersonal communication and social psychology. In the following discussion, I describe one such approach: applying the concept of defensiveness to business and technical writing.

Jameson, Daphne A. Business Communication Quarterly (2009). Articles>Education>Writing>Rhetoric

285.
#22351

Masacre en Madrid

La tragedia del 11 de Marzo en Madrid ha creado una catarata de informaciones (y de emociones) algunas de las cuales se han convertido en representaciones visuales que nos acercan al qué y al cómo de lo que ha pasado en estos días horribles. 

Dursteler, Juan Carlos. InfoVis (2004). (Spanish) Design>Information Design>Visual Rhetoric

286.
#13836

‘May I Have Your Attention?’: Exordial Techniques in Informative Oral Presentations   (PDF)   (members only)

An introduction, even a short one, makes audiences more willing to listen to a speech, think more highly of the speaker, and understand a speech better than when no introduction is given. Two experiments at Delft University of Technology support this conclusion. Subjects viewed videotapes of professional presentations on the topic of Sick Building Syndrome. In one experiment, subjects rated the effectiveness of three introductory or 'exordial' techniques in gaining audience attention: an anecdote, an ethical appeal, and a 'your problem' approach. Results indicate that audiences do respond to exordial techniques, and in a predictable manner. In the second experiment, two speeches with anecdotal openers were tested against one without any introduction. The anecdotes led to significantly higher ratings of the presentation's comprehensibility and interest, as well as the speaker's credibility. The presence of an anecdote also resulted in higher retention scores. Oddly enough, the relevance of the anecdote did not seem to make a difference in the ratings.

Andeweg, Bas A., Jaap C. de Jong and Hans Hoeken. Technical Communication Quarterly (1998). Presentations>Advice>Rhetoric

287.
#31683

Meaning in Organizational Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The authors propose an alternative to the postmodern way of viewing metaphor primarily as an instrumental and functional rhetorical tool designed to influence members of an organization through ideological appeals, a view that depicts rhetoric as merely subjective and manipulable. Our alternative draws from the "aesthetic side of organizational life" and argues that communication exceeds the theoretical reach of the postmodern perspective, which requires a new conceptualization of metaphor as epistemic and capable of signaling meaning that is inseparable from its unique and discrete form.

Hogler, Raymond, Michael A. Gross, Jackie L. Hartman and Ann L. Cunliffe. Management Communication Quarterly (2008). Articles>Rhetoric>Organizational Communication>Tropes

288.
#21213

Measuring the Success of Visual Communication in User Interfaces   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article discusses three key areas of visual communication we address in user interfaces (UIs): conventional—emphasis on imitating generic forms that meet readers' expectations; icon recognition; visual appeal or 'look-and-feel'. The article uses five case histories to demonstrate how usability research has helped the authors evaluate the quality of visual communication in navigation, icon recognition, and look-and-feel. It describes some of the research methodology the authors use, with examples from the case histories. For each of the three topic areas, we discuss the lessons we learned from the case histories about both usability testing methodology and visual communication guidelines. We mention, but do not concentrate on, related topics such as visual clutter.

Rosenbaum, Stephanie L. and J.O. 'Joe' Bugental. Technical Communication Online (1998). Articles>User Interface>Assessment>Visual Rhetoric

289.
#29454

Metaphor-Based Design of High-Throughput Screening Process Interfaces   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

This paper describes work on developing usable interfaces for creating and editing methods for high-throughput screening of chemical and biological compounds in the domain of life sciences automation. A modified approach to metaphor-based interface design was used as a framework for developing a screening method editor prototype analogous to the presentation of a recipe in a cookbook. The prototype was compared to an existing screening method editor application in terms of effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction of novice users and was found to be superior.

Kaber, David B., Noa Segall and Rebecca S. Green. Journal of Usability Studies (2007). Articles>User Interface>Rhetoric>Tropes

290.
#36665

Metaphor, Myth, and Theory Building: Communication Studies Meets the Linguistic Turn in Sociology, Anthropology, and Philosophy   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In accepting rhetoric as a context and tradition, we become more aware that there are alternative ways of truth telling and that we are therefore responsible for the ways we tell our truths. In this sense, the dialectics of discourse accord with the responsibilities of communication. Richard Harvey Brown, 1987, p. 118 For communication scholars who are interested in organizations, these are indeed rewarding times. Putnam and Nicotera’s (2009, the subject of this forum) edited volume bears witness to the fact that there is plenty of creative thinking available to us that sheds considerable light on the crucial role played by communication in bringing organizations into being. If these intellectual riches were not enough though, we are also living through a period when the bread and butter issues that communication scholars deal with are being taken up with alacrity in mainstream management and business journals.

Sewell, Graham. Management Communication Quarterly (2010). Articles>Management>Rhetoric

291.
#23925

Mettre le Contenu en Relief

La difficulté de la lecture à l'écran et le fait que les internautes lisent en diagonale font qu'il est très important, sur Internet, de donner du relief visuel à l'information.

Hardy, Jean-Marc. Redaction (2004). Design>Web Design>Visual Rhetoric

292.
#14533

Mind Mapping: Discovering The Rhetoric Of The Right Brain   (PDF)

Mind mapping is a visual technique of unleashing rightbrain rhetoric. Words and concepts are written down and circled; the circles are joined together into sets and subsets that indicate relationships but not necessarily organization. For the technical communicator, mind maps can improve the writing product by helping to break mental blocks, clarify project focus and connections, collect data without worrying about hierarchy and order, and begin to organize at any given level (detailed or general). Generating a mind map can help improve writing by consciously and deliberately using the right brain and its intuitive rhetoric.

Whalen, Elizabeth A. STC Proceedings (1994). Presentations>Rhetoric

293.
#25847

Minimalism

Links to resources about the Minimalist Model applied to documentation and training.

Ryder, Martin. University of Colorado at Denver (1995). Articles>Language>Rhetoric>Minimalism

294.
#23295

Modeling a New Rhetorical Architecture   (PDF)

Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) and Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) are based in document architectures. They work in part because documents can be defined by type. Yet that basis in types gives us opportunity to free information from those traditional types. But this freedom imposes upon us a need to re-define our approaches to communication models.

Coggin, William O. STC Proceedings (1996). Articles>Rhetoric>Theory

295.
#14050

Modern Rhetorical Theory

With special attention to the rhetor-audience relationship, the course studies history and practice of modern rhetorical theory. The main idea is that you learn the classical elements of rhetoric in some detail and then practice applying them to contemporary texts, whether they are the ones you are writing or analyzing. I think you should use this course so you can better understand not only rhetoric, but other areas of study that you are interested in, whether it be technology, popular culture, or a discipline outside of English. Make this course work for you.

Applen, J.D. University of Central Florida. Academic>Courses>Theory>Rhetoric

296.
#12983

Monitoring Order: Visual Desire, the Organization of Web Pages, and Teaching the Rules of Design   (peer-reviewed)

Monitoring Order looks at two potential sources -- writings about book design and writings about visual arrangement in painting -- for helping teachers of writing think about teaching visual composition for Web pages; both sources are problematic but suggest directions for further study.

Wysocki, Anne Frances. Kairos (1998). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>Visual Rhetoric

297.
#35205

The Most Annoying, Overused Words in the Workplace   (members only)

"Leverage," "interface," and "circle back" are among the most annoying and overused terms in work settings today, according to a new survey of executives.

Musbach, Tom. Yahoo (2009). Articles>Language>Workplace>Rhetoric

298.
#22755

El Movimiento en la Visualización

Desde el principio de la humanidad, la correcta percepción del movimiento ha constituido una rutina importante de la vida cotidiana. También constituye un recurso importante en la visualización.

Dursteler, Juan Carlos. InfoVis (2004). (Spanish) Articles>Usability>Visual Rhetoric>Cognitive Psychology

299.
#24566

Moving Beyond the Moment: Reception Studies in the Rhetoric of Science   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Studies in the rhetoric of science have tended to focus on classic scientific texts and on the history of drafts and the interaction surrounding them up until the moment when the drafts are accepted for publication by a journal. Similarly, research on disasters resulting from failed communication has tended to focus on the history of drafts and the interaction surrounding them up until the moment of the disaster. The authors argue that overattention to the moment skews understanding of what makes scientific discourse successful and neglects other valuable sources of evidence. After reviewing the promises and limitations of studies from historical, observational, and text-analytic approaches, the authors call for studies of responses to research articles from disciplinary readers and argue for studies using a variety of qualitative and quantitative methodologies that will explore the real-time responses of readers to scientific texts, test the effects of rhetorical strategies on readers, and track the course of acceptance or rejection over time.

Paul, Danette, Davida Charney and Aimee Kendall. Journal of Business and Technical Communication (2001). Articles>Scientific Communication>Rhetoric

300.
#31362

Much Ado about Nothing, Part 2: Deconstructing a Page   (PDF)   (members only)

In a continuation of his January column, Hart sheds some light on page layout and design—and gives color to a seemingly “black-and-white” concept.

Hart, Geoffrey J.S. Intercom (2008). Design>Document Design>Visual Rhetoric

 
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