A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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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.



Building Goodwill   (PDF)

This is chapter two from the 6th Edition of Business and Administrative Communication, developed to teach you how to communicate effectively and improve your written and oral business communication skills. This knowledge will help you in your courses and, more importantly, in your future career. Throughout this text, several pedagogical elements appear to teach readers about all the aspects of business communication. These examples in their many formats are found in every chapter and provide excellent real-world examples to underscore key concepts throughout the text.

Locker, Kitty O. McGraw-Hill (2003). Articles>Rhetoric>Writing


Burkean Invention in Technical Communication   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article supplements existing rhetorical scholarship by returning to the notion of invention as general preparation of the communicator. Although much scholarship about invention in technical communication exists, it consists mainly of heuristics, checklists, ethical considerations, and audience awareness. Part of invention is using basic strategies to prepare the communicator to assess any communication situation and its context and to generate the appropriate discourse. Rhetorician Kenneth Burke s theories of dialectic and rhetoric are a twentieth-century version of this; this article explains important Burkean strategies such as etymological extension, limits of agreement with the thesis, finding the complex in the simple, expanding the circumference, translation or alembication, the four master tropes, and the pentad, and it shows how to apply these in technical communication. The article closes with a classroom assignment that uses Burkean invention strategies.

Todd, Jeff. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2000). Articles>TC>Rhetoric


The C30 Project   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This C30 Project visual essay is a record and interrogation of a process that began in March 2007 and continues into 2008. Building on previous local artists in schools projects, artists David Andrew and Marcus Neustetter collaborated with learners, students and teachers at the P.J. Simelane Secondary School in Dobsonville, Soweto, South Africa, on a series of on-site interventions.

Andrew, David and Marcus Neustetter. Visual Communication (2008). Articles>Education>Visual Rhetoric>Africa


Canadian Society for the Study of Rhetoric

The CSSR's purpose is to promote the study of the theory and practice of rhetoric in all periods and languages, and its relationships with other fields of enquiry and realms of practice.

CSSR. Organizations>Rhetoric>Regional>Canada


Canonical Abstract Prototypes for Abstract Visual and Interaction Design   (PDF)

Abstract user interface prototypes offer designers a form of representation for specification and exploration of visual and interaction design ideas that is intermediate between abstract task models and realistic or representational prototypes. Canonical Abstract Prototypes are an extension to usage-centered design that provides a formal vocabulary for expressing visual and interaction designs without concern for details of appearance and behavior. A standardized abstract design vocabulary facilitates comparison of designs, eases recognition and simplifies description of common design patterns, and lays the foundations for better software tools. This paper covers recent refinements in the modeling notation and the set of Canonical Abstract Components. New applications of abstract prototypes to design patterns are discussed, and variations in software tools support are outlined.

Constantine, Larry L. Constantine and Lockwood (2003). Articles>User Interface>Interaction Design>Visual Rhetoric


The Case for Web Architecture: A Communication Process Approach to Retail Web Site Development   (PDF)

How is commercial Web site development informed by management decisions, marketing needs, business requirements, and consumer behavior and psychology (in short, the complex rhetorical situation surrounding commercial Web site development)? And how can the development process inform the formulation of a more effective Web commerce solution? I argue that the sense of community on the Web is the building block of retail Web commerce. I use a case study to show that using a communication process model can be an effective method of assessing market needs, business requirements, management decisions, and technology in the development of a retail Web solution.

Chu, Steve W. STC Proceedings (1998). Design>Web Design>Information Design>Rhetoric


A Case for Web Storytelling

In our attention to style and technology, we often overlook a vital element in the web design mix: narrative voice.

Cloninger, Curt. List Apart, A (2001). Design>Web Design>Rhetoric


Catching up with Professor Nate: The Problem with Sociolinguisitics in Composition Research   (peer-reviewed)

In Professional Academic Writing, Susan Peck MacDonald makes the observation that recent debates in rhetoric and composition about whether to initiate students into disciplinary practices or 'resist' current practices have frequently been framed in terms of 'accommodation' versus 'resistance,' and adds that 'these may be destructive dichotomies for us to be working with' particularly 'given the lack of close rhetorical and linguistic scrutiny we have spent on describing the nature, variation, or effects of textual practices in the humanities and social sciences'. When a field finds itself trapped in a particular dichotomy, it's time to re-examine research methods and agendas.

Prendergast, Catherine. JAC (1997). Articles>Rhetoric>Writing


Changing the Way the Profession Communicates: A Workshop for Prospective Journal Peer Reviewers   (PDF)

More than 90% of Technical Communication readers are informed practitioners--writers, editors, illustrators, designers, trainers, and project managers. About 10% are teachers and students. They come from diverse backgrounds as well as from technical communication programs.

Hayhoe, George F. STC Orange County (1998). Articles>Rhetoric>Audience Analysis>Surveys


Characterization of Quack Theories

In this article, I will first list some evidential flaws and then discuss errors in relating evidence to theory. Of necessity, this is a short list that omits most such problems. It is largely biased by what I have seen in newsgroup discussions.

Turpin, Russell. University of Texas (1993). Articles>Rhetoric>Theory>Assessment


Chunking Content: Toward a Rhetoric of Objects   (PDF)

We need to develop a rhetoric of objects to understand the new way in which we must create and deliver content over the Web. We are facing a new multiplicity of audiences—niche groups, and even individuals, to whom we offer customization and personalization. With our new tools and new ways of thinking about what we create, we are inventing informative objects that address the needs of our audiences, letting go of the concept of a document, as we plunge into a world of small chunks of content. In this presentation, I consider how this new approach to technical communication affects our ideas of audience, invention, arrangement, style, delivery, memory, and character—the canons of traditional rhetoric.

Price, Jonathan R. STC Proceedings (2003). Articles>Information Design>Web Design>Rhetoric


Clarifying Abstract Concepts Through Multimedia: Principles for Technical Communicators   (PDF)

Multimedia can sometimes convey meaning in ways that text and graphics alone cannot. This paper offers two principles for understanding how multimedia can clarify abstract concepts. The first principle is that multimedia is excellent for conveying any kind of change, such as change in quantity, size, shape, or relationship. The second principle is that multimedia can help present complex concepts by providing information in both the visual and auditory modes simultaneously. These principles can guide technical communicators in evaluating whether multimedia is a cost-effective way to present their information.

Garb, Rachel and Claudia M. Hunter. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>TC>Multimedia>Visual Rhetoric



Once you have your content, arranged it into a likely architecture, and worked out where it will sit on the page, you're ready to design the display layer.

Hunt, Ben. Web Design From Scratch (2006). Design>Web Design>Writing>Rhetoric


Clarity in Context: Rethinking Misunderstanding   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Technical communicators are well aware of the potential for misunderstanding in their roles as communicators within organizations and as translators of information from technical to lay people. In fact, they spend much of their working lives trying to communicate clearly and avoid misunderstanding. Lack of clarity can lead to delays in completing work, to lost business, and to customer dissatisfaction. It has been blamed for everything from the delay in starting yesterday's meeting to the Challenger space shuttle disaster. If we are to address the problem of misunderstanding and try to avoid it more often, we have to understand what misunderstanding is and why it occurs.

Schneider, Barbara. Technical Communication Online (2002). Articles>Rhetoric


Clashing Technologies: The Legacy of 19th Century Writing Instruction Meets the 21st Century Writing Classroom

In most writing classrooms, the primary activity is not writing per se, but rather the discussion of writing. You know the drill: as teachers, we create a writing assignment, introduce it during class, ask students if they have any questions, and send them off to work on the assignment. When students return to class with a draft of the assignment, we might discuss it as a class or perhaps put the students through a peer review session. But only rarely do we ask our students to actually write during class.

Palmquist, Mike. Lore (2001). Articles>Education>Writing>Rhetoric


Clear as Mud: The Plot Thickens

A lot of the time, management-speak simply seems ridiculous. But campaigners for plain English say there is a more serious side to the issue.

BBC (1998). Articles>Writing>Rhetoric>Minimalism


Clear Writing: Ten Principles of Clear Statement

If you want to test the clearness of your writing, you may wish to consider using a 'fog index.' Fog indexes measure the complexity of writing samples, and often provide a means of calculating the reading or educational level required to understand a particular passage. Some fog indexes are available as computer software programs, or you may do the calculations yourself.

University of Missouri (1973). Articles>Writing>Rhetoric>Minimalism


Review: Clout: The Art and Science of Influential Web Content

Credibility, persuasion, and influence are important characteristics of successful personal relationships and business. They are also important to creating effective web content, says Colleen Jones, regular contributor to UXmatters, principal and founder of Content Science, and now author of her first book titled, Clout: the Art and Science of Influential Web Content.

Dick, David J. Carolina Communique (2011). Articles>Reviews>Rhetoric>Web Design


Cogito Ergo Scribo: Applying Self-Schema Theory to the Composition Classroom

I believe that integrating a writing schema into an already existing self-schema for students is not difficult. The answer lies in WID (Writing in the Disciplines). All students have a possible self that they are trying to attain by majoring in a certain area. What we should do, then, is show students how writing can be relevant to their possible selves.

Cruz, Joshua. Xchanges (2011). Articles>Education>Writing>Rhetoric


Coherence, Context, Relevance: Special Deliverable

There are a lot of things that make deliverables good: coherence, context and relevance hardly constitute a comprehensive list. But by focusing on techniques that achieve coherence, context and relevance, information architects can address the challenges of starting a document, focusing the document and explaining its value.

Brown, Dan. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Articles>Information Design>Rhetoric


Color in Motion

An interactive experience of color communication and color symbolism.

Cortés, Claudia. mariaclaudiacortes.com (2003). Design>Graphic Design>Visual Rhetoric>Color


Color: The Newest Tool for Technical Communicators   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

Asserts that color must be used to make information clear, lucid, powerful—faster; its logical application must be controlled by the editor. Provides a comprehensive checklist to help editors use color effectively.

White, Jan V. Technical Communication Online (2003). Design>Graphic Design>Visual Rhetoric>Color


Comic Books: An Evolving Multimodal Literacy

As comic books have struggled to be considered seriously alongside more conventional forms of literature, the nature of literacy itself has changed. In recent decades, theorists like Gee, Brandt, and Heath have steered away from notions of literacy as a set of fixed skills and proposed an alternative view: literacy as a culturally and contextually situated set of multimodal practices. What complicates our concept of literacy necessarily complicates our concept of literature. A reevaluation of the comic book in relation to new literacy studies is long overdue.

Quimby, Taylor. Xchanges (2010). Articles>Publishing>Visual Rhetoric


Comment Intégrer les Visuels

En matière de visuels, même si la plupart des acquis des médias traditionnels restent valables, tels que les rapports sémiologiques entre le texte et l'image, certaines règles spécifiques devraient pouvoir s'appliquer à Internet.

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


The Common Topoi of STEM Discourse: An Apologia and Methodological Proposal, With Pilot Survey   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In this article, the author proposes a methodology for the rhetorical analysis of scientific, technical, mathematical, and engineering (STEM) discourse based on the common topics (topoi) of this discourse. Beginning with work by Miller, Prelli, and other rhetoricians of STEM discourse—but factoring in related studies in cognitive linguistics—she argues for a reimagining of topoi as basic schema that interrelate texts, objects, and writers in STEM communities. Then, she proposes a topical method as a stable, broadly applicable heuristic that may help fit the rhetorical dynamics of the much-studied research article (RA) into the wider context of written technical discourse—exactly the type of improvement that Gross, Fahnestock, and others have proposed. Finally, as an illustration of this argument, the author performs a pilot topical survey of 18 RAs representing six STEM disciplines. This survey yields a set of 30 topoi used samplewide that can form a starting point for future surveys. She answers challenges to the significance and relevance of a topical method and finishes by sketching some future applications of the method that can move rhetoric of science beyond the RA.

Walsh, Lynda. Written Communication (2010). Articles>Scientific Communication>Rhetoric>Assessment



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