A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication (and technical writing).

Technical Writing

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Technical Writing, a form of technical communication, is a style of formal writing and business communication, used in fields as diverse as computer hardware and software, chemistry, the aerospace industry, robotics, finance, consumer electronics, and biotechnology. Good technical writing clarifies technical jargon; that is, it presents useful information that is clear and easy to understand for the intended audience.



Introducing a Technical Writing Communication Course into a Canadian School of Engineering   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)

Introducing technical communication into the curriculum of a Canadian engineering school has created its own set of challenges, particularly when some of the engineering professors continue to believe, as Mathes, Stevenson and Klaver suggested in 1979, that the subject is best taught by engineers. Doing so proved to be only modestly successful at my school. Yet, even without the push to use engineering faculty as my assistants, establishing one’s authority as an expert in a non-engineering field can create a very real tension between the insider (the engineer) and the outsider (the technical communication instructor).

Parker, Anne Kennison. WAC Clearinghouse (2009). Academic>Education>Technical Writing>Engineering


Introducing China's First Comprehensive Technical Writing Book: "On Technological Subjects" by Song Yingxing   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

"On Technological Subjects," written and completed by Song Yingxing in 1628, is China's first comprehensive technical writing book intended for a general audience. Its 18 chapters cover nearly all the major technological subjects of its time, such as growing grains, weaving clothes, making sugar and salt, and building ships. The book accommodates various audiences' information needs by combining equipment and material descriptions, process explanations, and task instructions. To help audiences understand his descriptions and to follow his instructions more effectively, the author integrates 100 full-page detailed drawings. Another mechanism that the author uses to help his audiences complete the described tasks is using names (nouns) instead of action-oriented phrases for most of the chapter titles. Song's book embodies several important features in modern technical communication, especially in China's modern technical communication. The book should help international technical communicators understand China's modern technical communication from the perspectives of audience's awareness, organization of information, and use of visuals.

Ding, Daniel D. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2010). Articles>History>Technical Writing>China


Introducing Heuristics of Cultural Dimensions into the Service-Level Technical Communication Classroom   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

A significant problem for practitioners of technical communication is to gain the skills to compete in a global, multicultural work environment. Instructors of technical communication can provide future practitioners with the tools to compete and excel in this global environment by introducing heuristics of cultural dimensions into the service-level classroom. By practicing how to use these heuristics in "real-world" contexts, instructors can prepare students to function as both information architects and symbolic-analytic operators within this global work environment. In this article, I first examine common cultural heuristics as they pertain to business communication. Next, I articulate how technical communicators can benefit from incorporating these heuristics into the classroom. Finally, I offer a pedagogical approach to introducing heuristics of cultural dimensions into the service-level technical communication classroom.

Schafer, Robert. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication (2009). Articles>Education>Technical Writing>International


An Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering Communication Materials

Civil and environmental engineers address local officials, other professionals (meteorologists, geologists, and mechanical engineers), lawyers, lawmakers, citizen groups, public health practitioners, transportation engineers, consultants, contractors, and project managers. All these people and more may read civil and environmental engineers’ reports and proposals. Increasingly, these engineers work with people from other countries and cultures in locations outside the US as well as in the US. Communication instruction in civil and environmental engineering at Rice University prepares students to lead through excellence in communication.

conneXions (2008). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Engineering


An Introduction to Civil and Environmental Engineering Communication Materials

Civil and environmental engineers address local officials, other professionals (meteorologists, geologists, and mechanical engineers), lawyers, lawmakers, citizen groups, public health practitioners, transportation engineers, consultants, contractors, and project managers. All these people and more may read civil and environmental engineers’ reports and proposals. Increasingly, these engineers work with people from other countries and cultures in locations outside the US as well as in the US. Communication instruction in civil and environmental engineering at Rice University prepares students to lead through excellence in communication.

conneXions (2008). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Engineering


Introduction to Professional Writing

English 306 introduces you to the rhetorical principles and theoretical concepts that you will need as a professional writer. These principles and concepts will help you analyze and respond effectively to a variety of workplace writing scenarios. While the course will address some practical skills such as how to write memos, emails, and reports, we will focus most of our attention on theories of rhetoric, language, and information. We will learn how information operates in organizations, theories about information architecture, as well as rhetorical concepts that will allow you to effectively assess and approach any writing situation you might encounter. Additionally, the course will introduce you to the strategies and skills necessary for using various communication technologies in workplace contexts.

Bay, Jennifer. Purdue University (2007). Academic>Courses>Business Communication>Technical Writing


Introduction to Technical Communication

English 2309-Technical Communication-is an introductory course to the kinds of documents produced and used in business, industry, and technology. The assignments and the way they are evaluated reflect different audiences and purposes than those normally addressed in English 1301 & 1302. However, you should be reasonably proficient in the writing skills normally acquired in these two courses. We are a community of writers from various disciplines sharing our work and insights about writing with one another. This course is designed to create an environment in which you can develop and exhibit professional work habits. These habits include meeting deadlines, satisfying all assignment criteria, and attending class on a regular basis.

Chandler, John and Dean Fontenot. Texas Tech University (1995). Academic>Courses>Undergraduate>Technical Writing


Introduction to Technical Writing

Technical Writing is not a grammar class but an applied writing course in which you will learn to: write clearly, concisely, and accurately for intended readers; apply good writing skills to technical documents; write various technical documents common in business and industry; write as a member of a team; and use word processing, electronic mail, and graphics software applications on a personal computer.

Lippincott, Gail. University of North Texas (2003). Academic>Courses>Undergraduate>Technical Writing


Introduction to Technical Writing

An introduction to technical writing, with outlined notes about writing clearly.

Gallagher, Karin. rpbourret.com (2000). Academic>Course Materials>Writing>Technical Writing


Introduction to Technical Writing

This section will focus on both the creation and production of technical writing, particularly concentrating on how using a specific medium to convey information frames how the information is received by the intended audience(s).

Fitzgerald, Devon. Illinois State University (2007). Academic>Courses>Writing>Technical Writing


An Introduction to the Internet for Technical Writers   (PDF)

In spite of all the news and excitement about the Internet, there are still millions of people who are not using it, including many STC members. Email and the ability to do Internet research are now required tools for technical writers. But where do you start when you want to “surf the Net”? What hardware do you need? How do you select an access route to the cyberspace? Once you’re on-line, where do you go? Here are some of the answers. Warning: the Internet changes rapidly. Some of these answers may not be valid by the time you are ready to go on-line.

Lenzo, Thomas J. STC Proceedings (1998). Articles>Internet>Writing>Technical Writing


Introduction to XML for Technical Writers   (PDF)

XML is still the hot technology for technical writing. New XML tools are being delivered at a fast pace Every day, there are new XML initiative being announced. But when you try to learn about this exciting new technology, when you review the many books that are appearing on shelves, or sites popping up on the Web, you'll find that the information that is available is mostly aimed at developers. This session focuses on the value that it brings to technical writers and their users, and will include code samples.

Manning, Steve. STC Proceedings (2002). Design>Web Design>XML>Technical Writing


Is Help Necessary?

Do we need to have an external help system? Why not embed help right into the application? Why not take this a step or two further? Instead of having a separate help system, integrate more useful, more robust, and context-sensitive help into the user interface.

Nesbitt, Scott. DMN Communications (2009). Articles>Documentation>Help>Technical Writing


Is Lone Writing Becoming a Team Sport?   (PDF)   (members only)

Larbi discusses the transition—including advantages—that many lone writers face as globalization becomes more prevalent and individual consultants transform into lone writer teams.

Larbi, Nancy E. Intercom (2008). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Collaboration


Is Technical Writing a Viable Career Option?

Ever thought about what goes into creating the user manuals or instruction brochures of your music system, mobile phones or even the car maintenance guides? Most of us just manage to glance through the item, leave alone going into the technical details.

Jasrotia, Punita. IT People (2002). Careers>Writing>Technical Writing


Is Technical Writing Boring?

While the content of what I write at work is not all that interesting, and even the paradoxes or other conundrums about technical writing sometimes dull, I really get excited about the technology side of my job. New technologies are emerging each day at a rapid rate. It’s like we’re living in the internet era before the dot.com burst. This is a Web 2.0 land, where even Google threatens to become the next operating system. I am really eager to use a wiki to write my next set of documentation.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2007). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Wikis


Is Technical Writing Boring? Tech Writers as Information Architects

Is technical writing boring? We discuss a post that spawned a lot of comments and exchanges. We also talk about an article on information architecture in the Tech Comm journal.

Johnson, Tom H. and Heidi Hansen. Tech Writer Voices (2007). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Podcasts


Is Technical Writing the End of Creativity?

Writing a screenplay requires active sentences that are concise and simple enough to keep an impatient reader flipping pages. Word choice has to be concise and direct enough to keep impatient readers engaged, not what sounds the most poetic in the writer’s mind. Trying to accomplish this level of brevity spawned an inner editor I never knew I had. It’s what helped me cut the flowery, pretentious sentences that dominated my college days. (Like most writers, reading work from ten years ago makes me cringe.) It’s also what makes technical writing so fitting for me.

McGinnis, Matthew. Carolina Communique (2014). Articles>Communication>Technical Writing


Is Your Website Poised to Deal With Its Growth?   (peer-reviewed)

Every webmaster nourishes the dream that his or her website will make it the big way. This is very much human because people carry out any task in ardent hope. What is more human out here is that earthy fellows like us base our aspirations more on speculation rather than specific set of steps undertaken to bring the dream a bit closer to reality. And this is not all, particularly in case of growth of a site which brings newer problems in the wake of its growth. It cannot be disputed that you can probably get some good web hosting on economy price. But if you expect top of the line service on this price, acknowedge gracefully that your are just asking for the moon. Probably you are not catching up with wisdom that business needs decisive investments.

Azam, Rahbre. Amateur Writerz (2008). Articles>Web Design>Hosting>Technical Writing


The Issue of Quality in Professional Documentation: How Can Academia Make More of a Difference?   (PDF)   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

This article recommends strategies academics can use to contribute to an issue of great interest in industry: how best to define, measure, and achieve quality documentation.  These strategies include contextualizing quality definitions, advocating the use of multiple quality measures, conducting research to identify specific heuristics for defining and measuring quality in particular workplace contexts, and partnering with industry to educate upper management about those heuristics and the benefits of promoting technical communicators to the strategic role of organizational “gatekeepers of quality.”

Spilka, Rachel. Technical Communication Quarterly (2000). Articles>Documentation>Collaboration>Technical Writing


Issues in Medical Writing

There is no doubt that medical communications is a very young field. The clearest picture of the issues, problems, and needs of a discourse community with as complex a membership as that of medical communicators comes from the AMWA materials. Drawing boundaries between academic vs. medical professional vs. medical communicator seems pointless because of the nature of the medical communication. It also seems to be an area ripe for study by those interested in power issues in rhetoric and certainly in research in communication systems. Medical communication really is both the most and least specialized area of technical communication.

Taaffe, Maura. Michigan Tech University (1998). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>Biomedical


Issues in Professional and Technical Writing

In this course you will learn the methodology of single sourcing and the technology of a help applications tool (RoboHelp Office X4).

McShane, Becky Jo. Weber State University (2004). Academic>Courses>Writing>Technical Writing


Issues in Technical Writing

Now it is very important to recognize the vital role of a technical writer and services expected to provide to justify the requirements of this profession. Since technical writer is a sub category of technical communication, that involves other categories involved in documentation, like content writer, software configuration manager, technical editor, information designer and many more.

Albing, Bill. KeyContent.org (2005). Articles>TC>Communication>Technical Writing


It's Not the Tool, It's the Writer

This blog post ponders whether or not technical communicators are sometimes too enamoured with the tools, and because of that lose sight of what's best for the reader.

DMN Communications (2008). Articles>TC>Technical Writing>Technology


It's Only Easy If…

We're not just technical writers. We’re also supposed to be advocates for the people who use what we’re documenting. We can’t assume that they know what we know. Not even close.

Nesbitt, Scott. Communications from DMN (2010). Articles>Writing>Technical Writing>SMEs



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