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What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
What Is Technical Writing?
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What Is Technical Writing?

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  • 1. What is Technical Writing? © 2015 Karen L. Thompson University of Idaho Department of English 1
  • 2. At the University of Idaho • Students may earn a B.A. in English, Professional Writing. • We also offer a minor in Professional Writing. • English 317: Technical Writing is one of our 300-level course offerings in Professional Writing. 2
  • 3. About Professional Writing • The scope of professional writing embraces any written communication— other than that produced or circulated as art-text(s). • Professional writing can be communicated or exchanged between individuals or groups of individuals representing themselves or writing on behalf of public or private organizations; or between organizations and their individual clients or their general publics. • Technical Writing is a category of professional writing. 3
  • 4. Other 300-Level Professional Writing Courses • English 313: Business Writing • English 316: Environmental Writing • English 318: Science Writing • The next slides will explain the difference between these courses and English 317: Technical Writing. 4
  • 5. English 313: Business Writing 5 Business writing emerged from the communication needs of commerce, so it emphasizes interpersonal communication from both within and without a a business or organization. Students who take this course may be majoring in business, finance, and accounting majors, but it is open to all students and attracts a wide variety of other majors. Cotton Exchange by Edgar Degas (1873)
  • 6. English 316: Environmental Writing 6 Environmental writing emerged from the need to express our relationship to our environment and to understand how language shapes this relationship both personally and in terms of public policy. Students who take this course may be majoring in environmental science, natural resources, and wildlife management, but it is open to all students and attracts a wide variety of other majors. Kindred Spirits by Asher Durand (1849)
  • 7. English 318: Science Writing 7 Science writing emerged from the need to communicate the results of scientific research, so it emphasizes disseminating those results to both expert and lay audiences. Students who take this course may be majoring in biology, chemistry, food science, plant science, animal science, and geological science, but it is open to all students and attracts a wide variety of other majors. “Newton Investigating Light,” from the Illustrated London News (1870)
  • 8. English 317: Technical Writing 8 Technical writing emerged from the communication needs of inventing and using technology, so it emphasizes user-centered design and usability. Students who take this course tend to be engineering and technology majors, but it is open to all students and attracts a wide variety of other majors. Edison and Assistants by Dean Cornwell
  • 9. These categories are not mutually exclusive. 9 Technical Writing Science Writing Environmental Writing Business Writing • When a business writer analyzes data and presents it in a report, it is similar to scientific writing. • When a science writer submits a request to purchase software, it is business writing. • When a technical writer gives a presentation to a group of potential investors, it’s business writing. • When an environmental scientist studies how audiences perceive messages about climate change, it is a form of technical writing (usability). • Etc. etc. etc.
  • 10. Today 10 • Technology shapes not only how we write but what we write. • Writing takes place across a wide variety of platforms and media, and for audiences who are culturally diverse. • Successful workplace writers know how to analyze and navigate these writing situations by making effective rhetorical choices. • And that’s why rhetoric is your new best friend.
  • 11. What is rhetoric? 11 The classical definition of rhetoric is the use of language to persuade. Persuasion can be positive or negative, but in common usage, rhetoric has increasingly been defined negatively. And, there’s a reason for that. Plato and Aristotle from School of Athens by Raphael Sanzio (1509)
  • 12. Negative definition of rhetoric. 12 Because the art of persuasion can be used for --- let’s just say—not necessarily noble ends, the word rhetoric has a pejorative (negative) meaning. This negative meaning is often associated with political rhetoric, where language is used to defeat another candidate through distortions, misinformation, or outright lies.
  • 13. Modern definitions of rhetoric. 13 A more modern definition of rhetoric acknowledges that it informs whatever we do with language. It is how we use language to elicit any number of responses from diverse audiences and for a wide variety of purposes. The use of language also includes how we use visuals – visual rhetoric—to graphically represent data or to visualize data in other ways.
  • 14. My teaching goal: to help you become a strong workplace rhetor. A strong workplace rhetor is able to: • analyze and identify the needs of writing situations, including what is at stake for the writer(s) and reader(s). • make effective rhetorical choices to meet the needs and purposes of any writing situation. • interpret dynamic communication situations in order to weigh the possible responses to these situations. • see communication as a problem-solving activity rather than a task to a produce an end-product. • acknowledge that that no single choice in solving a rhetorical is the “right one,” but that rhetorical choices are either more or less effective. 14
  • 15. Don’t take this wrong, but no one in the workplace wants to read what you write. 15
  • 16. Workplace readers need to read what your write to: 16 • Solve problems, • Gain a better understanding of something, • Make effective decisions, • Plan work they and others will do, and • Create a paper trail for business and legal purposes This helps me. What a great writer!

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