1) Topics– check in
2) Looking at the book/putting it in our own words
3) Activity: Finding our stakeholders
4) Send me your topic!
To start today…
… I just want to see how everyone is feeling about
your potential topics for the report and proposal.
We’re going to spend today sort of modeling how to
use a chapter of the book’s knowledge and info to
shape our work, and it will be helpful if you can start
to think toward your next few submissions as we do
Anderson: Chapter 4
In this chapter, you get a great deal of practical
information to help you to write in a “usable” way.
What I want to do with a large portion of this class is
unpack what Anderson says and make sure we’re
reading and understanding carefully.
POP QUIZ: Someone shout out what the
chapter was about.
Anderson’s Ten Usability Guidelines
What I’m going to do on the next several slides is
give you Anderson’s ten guidelines for writing with a
mind toward usability. He’s added one since your
edition of the book, but really, it’s just presented as a
sub-point of #4 in your book.
As each one pops up, let’s talk about what it means
in your mind, then on the next slide you’ll see MY
Guideline 1: Identify the information your
What he means: this one’s pretty obvious,
right? You need to know what you reader
needs to know… so you can give it to the
Guideline 2: Organize around you reader’s
What he means: As you write, think about
how your readers will USE the text (yes,
using the word to define itself in usability).
Make it easy to scan, place the sections in
the order that they will be expected, etc.
Think like the reader and this will come
Guideline 3: Identify ways to help readers
quickly find what they want
What he means: Numbering. Headings.
Indexes or ToCs for longer documents.
Infographics. When you tell me the report is
about the amount of money spent by the
Business school on recruiting, I should be
able to find numbers– amounts of money–
easily in the document. It should leap out at
Guideline 4: For a complex audience, prepare
a modular communication
What he means: if you’re talking to a really,
really diverse audience, customize. Literally
put the information in modules you can pull
out and reassemble so that you give the best
package to the reader. Quick example: an
offensive football player gets a different
playbook than a defensive player, but the
head coach gets all that content.
That’s the one that is just a sub-point in your
edition of the book. It won’t matter to our
reports– we aren’t writing that diverse. But
it is VERY IMPORTANT to know in terms of
professional writing theory.
Guideline 5: Look for a technical writing
superstructure you can adapt
What he means: don’t re-invent the wheel. If
there’s a structure that works, borrow it and
repurpose it. The key is… repurpose and
rework. Don’t just take an existing form and
drop your info into it.
Guideline 9: Check your plan with your
What he means: If you can, actually ask the
audience. If you can’t– make a document
that talks about your audience and its needs
(hmmm… what might that look like?) then
consult it as you make changes. Know how
they’ll read what you’re writing.
Guideline 10: Ethics: Know the stakeholder
What he means: Do your best to know how
what you say is going to impact the people
you say it about. If you can and it seems
proper, talk to the people you mention. But
mostly– follow your gut. If you think saying
that Miami University is evil for supporting
Coca Cola, make sure the word “Evil” isn’t
going to bother Miami University or Coca
People other than mad scientists, bad guy
wrestlers, some rappers and random world
leaders don’t like being called “evil.”
So try to avoid that word in tech writing.
By now, I hope you’re fairly certain about your
research topic. This would be good, as it will allow us
to work on our demographic case studies. So what I
want us to do, for just a few minutes here, is a little
Yes, I know. We are storming up a great deal of brain.
Write your chosen topic at the top of the page.
Now list the primary audience– describe it in quick but
Once you’ve done that, think of all the STAKEHOLDERS.
Stakeholders are the audience, people you are writing about,
people who depend on the people you are writing about,
people concerned with issues relating to what you’re writing
about, etc. In other words, if it impacts them, they’re
After writing that down…
… it’s commit time. Look at your topic.
How do you feel about it?
If you’re good with it, email it to me with the subject
line “313: Report and Proposal topic”
If you’re not sure, email me what you have with the
subject line “313: Help!”
For next class
Read Anderson, Chapter 5
Remember your instructions, and your usability write-ups
from last class, are due to me via email (as PDF, please) on
Thursday (any time before 11:59:59 p.m.)
If you did your usability stuff in hard copy form, you can hand
those in to me in-class Thursday, but please also send your
final instructions in PDF form.