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Spring into Technical Writing


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Table of Contents

Preface.I. PLANNING TO WRITE.1. The Quest. Technical Writing Theorems Technical Writing Can Be Creative Tell 'Em The Value of Technical Communication to You Comparing Technical Writing to Engineering and Science2. Audience. General Education Level Experience and Expertise Breadth of Audience Native Language Native Culture Audience Motivation Medium and the Message Becoming the Audience Summary of Audience3. Documentation Plans. Document Specifications (Doc Specs) Doc Specs: Sample Documentation Project Plans Documentation Project Plan: Sample Summary of Documentation SpecificationsII. WRITING: GENERAL PRINCIPLES.4. Words. Jargon Consistency Verbs Adjectives and Adverbs Pronouns: He, She, and They Pronouns: You Pronouns: It and They Fluffy Phrases Commonly Confused Words Summary of Words5. Sentences. Active Voice and Passive Voice Active Voice Is Better When Is Passive Voice Okay? Short = Sweet Causes of Long Sentences One Sentence = One Thought Parenthetical Clauses Summary of Sentences6. Paragraphs and Sections. Sentence Transitions Paragraph Length Paragraph Transitions Sections Summary of Paragraphs and Sections7. Lists. Bulleted Lists Elements in Bulleted Lists The Length of Each Element Numbered Lists Directions Introductions to Lists Parallel Lists Summary of Lists8. Tables. Column Headers Units of Measure Arrangement of Columns and Rows Parallelism in Tables Amount of Text in Cells Rules Shading Captions Summary of Tables9. Graphics Graphics Time Series Extra Detail in Online Graphics Before and After Callouts versus Embedded Text Graphics That Orient Readers Screenshots Color Blindness Block Diagrams Text That Supplements Figures Technical Photography Line Art Enhances Technical Photographs Big Picture First, Then Details Layout: Controlling Focus Layout: Keeping Eyes on the Page Layout: White Space Summary of Graphics10. Professional Secrets. Explanations of Formula-Based Rules Examples Examples by Metaphor Examples for Programming Documentation Question-and-Answer Format Question-and-Answer Format Example In Other Words Tone Pace Footnotes and Other Digressions Beyond the Obvious Precision Descriptions The Hardest Part of Writing Summary of Professional SecretsIII. WRITING: SPECIFIC KINDS OF DOCUMENTS.11. Manuals. Manual Style: Cookbooks Cookbook Example: Installing the Carambola Server Manual Style: Tutorials Tutorial Example: Getting Started with HTML Manual Style: Guides Guide Example: Creating HTML Headers Manual Style: Reference Manuals Reference Example: The pr1me Utility Manual Style: Nonverbal Manuals Online Help: Overview Online Help: Best Practices Online Help Examples Release Notes Release Notes Example: Carambola Web Server Version 3.7 Prefaces Preface Example Glossaries Glossary Example: Tropical Weather Terms Tables of Contents Indexes Indexes: Providing Concise Entries Indexes: Permuting Terms Indexes: Providing Entries for Concepts Summary of Manuals12. Web Sites. Plans Home Page: Specify Purpose and Audience Home Pages: Engage the Reader's Imagination Home Pages: Set the Tone Page Templates Navigators and Search Boxes Hyperlinks in Body Text Secondary Pages Text in Web Sites PDF versus HTML Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Summary of Web Sites13. Proposals. The Proposal before the Proposal Adherence to the Proposal Template Proposal Element: Cover Letters Proposal Element: Biographies Proposal Element: Abstracts Proposal Element: Contingency Plans Proposals for Revolutionary Ideas Research Proposals Research Proposals: Significance Statements Research Proposals: Objectives and Hypotheses Research Proposals: Design and Methods Book Proposals Book Proposal: Example Marketing Section Business Plans Summary of Proposals14. Internal Planning Documents. Business Proposals Business Proposal: Example High-Level Technical Specs High-Level Technical Spec Example Low-Level Technical Specs Low-Level Technical Spec Example Summary of Internal Planning Documents15. Lab Reports. Abstract Introduction Materials Experimental Procedure Results Discussion Conclusion References Summary of Lab Reports16. PowerPoint Presentations. Organizing a Presentation: The Big Picture The Number of Slides The Opening Moments of a Presentation Introductory Slides: The Traditional Approach Introductory Slides: An Alternate Approach Body Slides: Pace and Variety Mechanics: Fonts and Backgrounds Body Slides: Effective Lists Audience: The Theory of Relativity Graphics The Complexity of a Graphic Question-and-Answer Sessions Different Kinds of Learners PowerPoint Speech: The Basics PowerPoint Speech: Lessons from the Pros PowerPoint Speech: Overcoming Fear Summary of PowerPoint Presentations17. E-Mail. The Essence of the E-Mail Problem Before Hitting the Send Button... After the First Miscommunication... Summary of E-MailIV. EDITING AND PRODUCING DOCUMENTS.18. Editing and the Documentation Process. Editing: What Is It Really? Technical Editing a Peer's Work Technical Editing a Superior's Work Copyediting a Colleague's Document Copyediting Your Own Document Media for Technical Editing Bug-Tracking Systems A Process for Editing Beta Tests for Documentation Summary of Editing and the Documentation Process19. Fonts and Typography. Serif and Sans-Serif Fonts Fixed-Width versus Variable-Width Fonts Serif and Sans-Serif in Hard Copy Serif and Sans-Serif in Soft Copy Font Height Italics and Boldface Consistency and Convention True-Type versus PostScript Fonts Summary of Fonts and Typography20. Punctuation. Commas Dashes and Hyphens Semicolons Periods Colons Quotation MarksGlossary.Bibliography.Index.

Promotional Information

The fastest way for professionals to master technical writing!You're a technical professional, perhaps a programmer, engineer, or scientist. You are not a professional writer, but writing is part of your job (specs, manuals, proposals, lab reports, technical presentations, Web content, data sheets, and so on).Welcome. This book is for you. It's all you need to clearly communicate technical ideas to any audience-technical or nontechnical-and motivate them to act. Barry J. Rosenberg organizes every facet of effective technical writing into more than 175 short, concise, fast-paced tutorials. You'll find loads of examples (what to do and what not to do) plus start-to-finish instructions for writing exactly the kinds of documents you need to create.Need specific solutions? This book's bite-size, visual, high-efficiency format delivers them instantly. Dig in, get started, and get results!

  • Make all your documents and presentations clearer, more concise, and more compelling
  • Understand your audience, and target your content appropriately
  • Learn how to write for an international audience
  • Use active voice to communicate with confidence and authority
  • Produce effective lists, tables, and graphics
  • Create useful examples
  • Write effective manuals and release notes
  • Implement solid technical Web sites
  • Develop winning research, business, and book proposals
  • Create and present compelling PowerPoint presentations
  • Write e-mails that don't ignite flame wars
  • Learn how to integrate documentation development into best engineering practices

Downloadable examples are available on the Web.

About the Author

Barry Rosenberg is the author of more than sixty corporate technical manuals, primarily on programming. An experienced instructor, Barry has taught everything from high school physics to weeklong corporate seminars on data structures. Most recently, he spent four semesters at MIT, where he taught advanced technical writing. Barry currently works as the documentation manager at 170 Systems.

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