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Technical Writing, November 12, 2013


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Technical Writing, November 12, 2013

  1. 1. TODAY 1) Anderson on proposals 2) Dr. Phill on proposals and tech writing 3) The first time you probably made a textual proposal– and now we do it all PW style 4) And for next time…
  2. 2. In Chapter 23 Anderson tells us all about writing proposals. This is one of his most free-form chapters, as he doesn’t offer the usual guidelines. He does, however, offer a very specific super-structure. This superstructure can be of great use to us!
  3. 3. Introduction Problem Objectives Solution Method Resources Schedule Qualifications Management Costs
  4. 4. And from my video… You basically know my rules for proposals. But this is a good point for me to hit my ten commandments for advanced technical writing. Ten things you should always, always remember, particularly with reports and proposals, but with all tech writing.
  5. 5. Guideline 1: Above all, be clear.
  6. 6. In other words, people are people. If there were 10 people in a study and five said the word “taco,” half of them said the word “taco,”etc.
  7. 7. Guideline 2: Anticipate your reader’s needs.
  8. 8. This is always critical, but here’s a quick, easy example. Someone said on the TV here in my world just now, “The KC Chiefs are undefeated, but they haven’t played anyone good.” SHOW ME THE SCHEDULE.
  9. 9. Guideline 3: Stop once you’ve told us what you’re telling us.
  10. 10. I give you page requirements here as suggestions. In technical communication, things are as long as they are. That’s it. The document decides. No employer is going to ask you for a 3 page report that needs to be exactly 3 pages.
  11. 11. Guideline 4: Use formatting to make your points clear, but don’t go crazy.
  12. 12. Because the green word is important. and the indented one is a subpoint. But Rainbows are artsy, not technical.
  13. 13. Guideline 5: Make that document scantastic.
  14. 14. Headings, bold keywords, color for important points. Make my reading experience simple.
  15. 15. Guideline 6: Balance your technical voice.
  16. 16. This week, wrestler John Cena is my punching bag. Good technical sentence: Even when the climate is cold, it is unadvisable to steal another person’s coat. Cena Style: No matter the weather/your boy so hot/you never catch me in the next man’s sweater.
  17. 17. Guideline 7: Stress facts.
  18. 18. Trans fats kill people. Seriously, take a look at The FDA is slowing banning them. They make things delicious, too, and we’ve eaten them for years. They can be bought in stores and are used to fry McDonald’s french fries and chicken nuggets. TRANS FATS KILL PEOPLE.
  19. 19. Guideline 8: Don’t oversell yourself.
  20. 20. Anderson stresses talking about your qualifications to make a proposal. It is good to make your qualifications clear. BUT a good enough qualification is often “hey, I did this research, so now I have compiled all these facts.” Don’t try to also presume that makes you an expert. It doesn’t. It means you found some good facts.
  21. 21. Guideline 9: The biggest part of your job as a technical writer is to make that which isn’t clear as clear as possible.
  22. 22. I am currently working as my game students play Dungeons & Dragons. Someone just said “make a saving throw.” A saving throw is when you roll the dice and compare that number to your own defense number as listed on your character sheet (plus or minus any modifiers based on the scenario). So you roll the dice and either do or don’t get hit.
  23. 23. Guideline 10: Technical communication is home to a different kind of creative, and the language should be dry
  24. 24. That’s not to say that you don’t need to THINK creatively as a technical writer, but you’re not trying to top Herman Melville. Or Stephen King. Or J.K. Rowling. You will have sentences quite frequently that look like this: “The person viewed the thing and thought this.” (with actual content).
  25. 25. Your first proposal I’m guessing, so if you didn’t have this happen to you the first time you ever made a proposal, forgive me. But the first proposal most people write is a Christmas wish list.
  26. 26. Who you are/if you were good There’s stuff you want You wish for Santa to give you the stuff Convince your parents to buy it You make a list, and talk about being good Resources gift list reasons “nice” guidance as to where to locate gifts benefit: a child’s joy!
  27. 27. But now… … we have tech writing skills. So I want you to write a gift list for this Christmas. Use your technical writing skills, as they exist, to make the best possible gift proposal. Once we finish, we’ll share and discuss and see who won Xmas. 
  28. 28. For next class… For Thursday: read: Anderson, Chapter 24 We will look more specifically at how to shape the proposal using your research data. Also, your report final drafts will be due to me via email as PDFs. If you remember to make them PDFs, it makes it like 10 times easier for me to grade in Gmail, so please do that. 