Professional Technical Writing Course Outline


Below is the table of contents for the Professional Technical Writing course.

About the course
Course overview
Goals and objectives
Computing requirements
Course prerequisites
How do I communicate?
How will I be graded?
How do I start?
Course outline
Getting started
Working with a structured editor
Getting started – the basics
Installing the software
Authoring documents
Saving files
Publishing files
Conducting a search in the course
Using course resources
Writing letters
Thinking critically about letters
Using the “You Attitude”
Focusing on the benefits for the reader
Understanding human nature
Avoiding objectionable expressions
Using a positive tone
Connecting with the reader
Organizing your letter
Salutation
Introductory paragraph (body)
Middle paragraphs (body)
Concluding paragraph (body)
Closing
Writing a persuasive letter
Setting the scene
Center on one action
Capture the reader’s interest
Do not thank in advance
Is there a deadline?
Sample letter
Proofreading
Exercises
Summary
Further reading
Assignment one
Description
Requirements
Grading
Creating the letter
Preparing your files for submission
Step 1 – Create the letter in XMLSpy
Step 2 – Publish the XML file to HTML
Step 3 – Organizing files for submission
Step 4 – Zipping your files
Step 5 – Uploading your assignment
What is technical communication?
Technical communication skills
Principles of technical writing
Technical writing is interpreting
Planning is crucial
Technical writing is not creative writing
Focus on user tasks
Not just manuals
Software for technical writers
Summary
Further reading
Writing technical documents
The Seven Cs
Clarity
Concreteness
Conciseness
Consistency
Coherence
Cohesion
Complete
Active voice
Positive and negative phrases
Reader focus
Parallel form
Tone
Jargon
Gender-neutral words
Chunking
Minimalism
Headings
Descriptive headings
Types of headings
Parallelism in headings
Capitalization for headings
Task-oriented information
Introductory information
Using lists for instructions
Single action in each step
Providing one method of completing a task
Limiting the number of steps
Graphics
Standards for procedures
Results or examples
Quiz
Summary
Further reading
Exercises
Assignment two
Description
Requirements
Grading
Submitting the assignment
Preparing to write a manual
Post your letter
Read the letters
Form a group
Working in a group
Description
Requirements
Submit the manual proposal
Writing process
Stage one – Planning and setup
Stage two – Research
Stage three – Creating an outline
Stage four – Writing the manual
Stage five – Editing
Get started
Understanding the audience
The audience question
What is an audience?
Types of audiences
Write for your audience
Meet your audience’s needs
Be careful about assumptions
Audience analysis
Analyzing multi-faceted audiences
Analyze your audience
Identify the characteristics of the audience
Assess the objectives of the audience
Create a user profile
Using personas
General user characteristics
Focus on the audience
Quiz
Summary
Further reading
Planning a manual
Learning about the product
Preparing an information plan
Defining the project
Describing the audience
Completing a task analysis
Defining the design implications
Creating a project plan
Quiz
Summary
Further reading
Writing a manual
No one wants to read your user manual
Types of manuals
Online vs print manuals
Understanding information types
Reference information
Procedural information
Instructional information
Conceptual information
Combining information types
Planning the manual outline
Creating an outline
Grouping related tasks
Sample manual structure
Writing the manual
Writing modular content
Thinking like a user
Maintaining a consistent style
Writing content
Ensuring retrievability
Usability principles
Table of contents
Glossary
Index
Revising the manual
Editing
Substantive edit
Copyedit
Proofreading
Peer review
Testing for usability
Quiz
Summary
Further reading
Using graphics
Why use graphics?
Graphics in technical documents
Design issues
Choosing your graphic
Captions
Callouts
Types of graphics
Graphs
Diagrams and illustrations
Photographs
Icons
Sources of graphics
Screen capture
Scanning pictures
Graphics in online documents
Pixels in graphics
Image formats
File size
Image maps
Saving graphics from Web pages
Making graphics with irregular shapes
Guidelines for Web graphics
Graphic software
Graphic checklist
Quiz
Summary
Further reading
Assignment three
Description
Requirements
Grading
Writing the manual
Publishing the manual to HTML
Writing tips
Manual checklist
Submitting the assignment
Testing the manual
Verification phase
Usability testing defined
Mental models
The costs of not testing
Usability testing and product quality
A do-it-yourself usability kit
Simplified user testing
Will usability testing help?
Setting up the test
Quiz
Summary
Further reading
Maintaining standards
Why use standards?
Setting standards
Selecting authorities
Determining your writing standards
Setting your tone
Deciding on your writing level
Organizing your material
Capitalizing words
Using foreign words and phrases
Using words consistently
Using bias-free language
Punctuating lists
Deciding on serial commas
Using other punctuation marks
Using bold, italics and underlining
Representing numbers and fractions
Reproducing phone numbers
Setting standards for print
Standards as an editing tool
Sample style guide
Sample writing standards
Sample layout standards
Summary
Further reading
Assignment four
Description
Preparation
Requirements
Grading
Conducting the usability test
Preparing for your usability test
Creating a task list
Conducting the usability test
Writing the usability testing report
Submitting the assignment
Reporting
Purpose of report writing
What is reporting?
Informal reports
Formal reports
Audience
Specialized audience
General audience
Content and evidence
Style
Writing the report
Determining the purpose
Gathering the data
Analyzing the data
Organizing the information
Writing the draft
Revising the content
Formatting your report
Preliminary pages
Summary
Main section
Conclusion
Recommendations
References
Glossary (optional)
Appendix (optional)
Writing effective reports
Summary
Further reading
Designing documents
Design and technical writing
Design for your audience
Design principles
Consistency and emphasis
Balance
Contrast
Size of elements
Page layout
Using grids for page composition
Text organizers
White space
Using color
Integrating text and graphic devices
Design tips
Typography
What is a typeface?
Typeface categories
Type properties
Type alignment
Type size
Emphasis
Monospaced versus proportional fonts
Choosing the right typeface
Developing good design
Summary
Further reading
Assignment five
Description
Requirements
Writing your report
Assessing the quality of online resources
Grading
A note on plagiarism
Submitting the assignment
Writing guide
Paragraphs
Paragraph length
Topic sentence
Paragraph unity and coherence
Consistency of tense and pronoun
Sentences
Sentence structures
Sentence problems
Run-on sentences
Sentence fragments
Dangling and misplaced modifiers
Lack of parallel structure
Lack of sentence variation
Wordiness
Agreement
Unclear pronoun reference
Matters of style
Non-sexist language
Jargon and technical terminology
Passive and active voice
Punctuation
Comma
Semicolon
Colon
Period
Question mark
Hyphen
Dash
Revision checklist
Punctuation quiz
Glossary

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