Chapter 1: Introduction to Technical Communications

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ENG-2050 Chapter 1

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  • The main point in this chapter is that all professional writing is done for specific readers
    in specific situations, to communicate information that readers will use. The writer’s primary
    purpose is not to express personal feelings or opinions—or simply to transmit factual
    information; instead, the writer’s purpose is to shape that information for the particular
    uses of a specific audience. In this sense, the notion of “user-friendliness” applies not
    only to computer hardware, software, and documentation but also to any document written
    for its readers’ instrumental use.
    To help students understand that this is not just another composition course, spend time
    discussing the differences between technical and nontechnical writing. You might bring in
    examples of technical writing, such as operating instructions for an electric tool or appliance,
    and examples of nontechnical writing, such as expressive or mood pieces from popular
    magazines, or newspaper feature articles purportedly objective but often dripping
    with sentimentality. Comparing items on the same topic can be especially helpful. The
    tone, style, and format of a government document on fishing catch quotas will be quite
    different from a first-person narrative about a fly-fishing experience published in Field &
    Stream. These types of documents can easily be found on government agency and magazine
    Web sites, making the exercise suitable for online classes as well as in-class sessions.
    Because motivation and attitude are crucial in getting students to improve their writing
    (research shows that students write more effectively when the subject is engaging, and
    when their purpose for writing is clearly defined), you might wish to amplify the section
    on the value of technical skills with quotations from business, industrial, and technical
    magazines, or by providing quotations from faculty in the business, engineering, and science
    departments on your campus.
  • Answers
    1. The exchange of information that helps people interact with technology and solve complex problems.
    2. Which information is relevant to this situation? Can I verify the accuracy of this source? What action does it suggest? How does this information affect me or my colleagues? With whom should I share it? How might others interpret this information?
    3. Our global community shares social, political, and financial interests.
    4. Whatever your job description, expect to be evaluated, at least in part, on your communication skills.
    5. It is 1) reader-centered, 2) accessible and Efficient, 3) often produced by teams, 4) delivered in paper and digital versions
  • Answers (continued)
    6. To inform, to instruct, and to persuade
    7. “How do I prepare the right document for this group of readers and this particular situation?”
    8. 1) Deliver information readers can use, 2) Use persuasive reasoning, 3) Weigh the ethical issues, 4) Practice good team work
  • Chapter 1: Introduction to Technical Communications

    1. 1. Chapter 1 Introduction to Technical Communication Technical Communication, 13th Edition John M. Lannon Laura J. Gurak Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    2. 2. Learning Objectives  Define technical communication  Understand that technical communication has a global reach  Appreciate the role of technical communication in most careers  Identify the main features and aims of technical communication  Recognize a typical technical document  Observe the challenges facing one communicator at work Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    3. 3. What Is Technical Communication?  Technical communication is the exchange of information that helps people interact with technology and solve complex problems.  To interact with technology in so many ways, we need information that is not only technically accurate but also easy to understand and use. Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    4. 4. What Is Technical Communication? (continued)  Technical communication serves various needs in various settings. Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    5. 5. Technical Communication: A Digital and a Human Activity People make information meaningful by thinking critically and addressing such questions as: Which information is relevant to this situation? Can I verify the accuracy of this source? What action does it suggest? How does this information affect me or my colleagues? With whom should I share it? How might others interpret this information? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    6. 6. Technical Communication Reaches a Global Audience  Electronically linked, our global community shares social, political, and financial interests.  To connect with all readers, technical documents need to reflect global and intercultural diversity.  Cultures differ over which behaviors seem appropriate for social interaction, business relationships, contract negotiation, and communication practices. Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    7. 7. Technical Communication Is Part of Most Careers  Whatever your job description, expect to be evaluated, at least in part, on your communication skills.  Most professionals serve as part-time technical communicators.  Full-time technical communicators serve many roles. Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    8. 8. Main Features of Technical Communication Technical communication is: reader-centered accessible and efficient often produced by teams delivered in paper and digital versions Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    9. 9. Purposes of Technical Communication Technical communication serves three purposes that sometimes overlap: to inform: Anticipate and answer your readers’ questions to instruct: Enable your readers to perform certain tasks to persuade: Motivate your readers Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    10. 10. Preparing Effective Technical Documents  The main question you must answer: “How do I prepare the right document for this group of readers and this particular situation?”  The four basic tasks of an effective technical communicator are: 1. Deliver information readers can use 2. Use persuasive reasoning 3. Weigh the ethical issues 4. Practice good team work Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    11. 11. Preparing Effective Technical Documents (continued) This graphic illustrates the four tasks: Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    12. 12. Review Questions 1. What is the definition of technical communication? 2. What are some of the questions a computer can’t answer? 3. Why is global communication important? 4. In what ways is technical communication part of most careers? 5. What are the four main features of technical communication? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.
    13. 13. Review Questions (continued) 6. What are the three purposes of technical communication? 7. What is the main question you must ask when preparing a technical document? 8. What are a workplace communicator’s four basic tasks? Copyright © 2014, 2011, 2008 by Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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