Technical Communicator Track

In ENGL 2311: Technical and Business Writing, you study the principles, techniques, and skills needed in scientific, technical, or business writing. The course includes instruction in the writing of reports, letters, and other exercises applicable to a wide range of disciplines and careers, along with emphasis on clarity, conciseness, and accuracy of expression. Research techniques, information design, effective use of graphics, and preparation and presentation of oral reports is also covered.

Technical and Business Writing is a writing-intensive course; be ready to produce writing projects every weeks and a lot of reading and practice in between. As a 12-week course, this course is particularly brisk. Whenever possible, try to work ahead of the schedule.

This is the special technical communicator track. The other tracks are the entrepreneur track and the scientist/technologist track.
Semester/year Fall 2017
Instructor David McMurrey
Class meetings Online class
Office & hours Tuesday and Thursday: Northridge Campus 4225 12:00pm-3:30pm (Always call 512.223.4804 to ensure I'm there.)
Phone 512.223.4804 (Northridge Campus)
E-mail davidm@austincc.edu


September 25: Technical Communication: Overview
In this first week, find out about the course and get going on the first unit, which is resumes and application letters. You can start this week getting ready to write the resume and application letter.
Introductions & startup. Let's find out who we are and what this class is all about.
Activities Watch the course overview. (ACCstudent is the password.)
Note: You may need to click the Full Screen button to be able to see better and be ready to click the Pause button if things go too fast. This video is from last year; a few things have changed for this year's course.
Go through the list of startup activities to get going in this course.
due—Sept. 27
Overview of technical communication. Read about what you may be getting yourself into.
Readings Use the overview of technical communication to get an overview of the range of documents that technical writers produce not just for the computer industry but for many other areas as well, and not just for print but for online, audio, and video as well.
Writing project Use the directions in technical communication to summarize what you have found out about the technical communication profession. due—Oct. 8
Grammar, usage, punctuation review. Use the following exercises and learn to recognize and correct some of the most common errors in writing projects in this course.
Writer's bootcamp No matter how good your writing projects in this course, the errors listed above will be devastating to your grade. Keep in mind that you must complete these exercises before your writing assignments will be accepted. due—Oct. 8

October 2: More Overview; Technical Writing Style and Graphics
Writing style and graphics. Get some practice writing clearly, specifically, and succinctly. Also get geared up for creating, adding, and formatting graphics for your technical documents.
Readings & practice Use the study guide on technical writing style to get some practice with standard guidelines for numbers, symbols, abbreviations, acronyms, and hyphens.
Use the study guide on graphics to get a preview of developing, incorporating, and formatting graphics in technical documents.
due—Oct. 15

October 9: Headings and Lists; Writing Project
Formatting for readability. Headings (distinct from headers) and vertical lists (numbered, bulleted, nested) are critical tools used in technical documents.
Readings & practice Use the study guide on headings to learn the standard design and style guidelines for one of the most important tools of the technical writer—headings.
Use the study guide on lists. to learn the standard guidelines and format for another important technical-writer tool—bulleted, numbered, and other types of lists.
due—Oct. 18
Readings & quizzes Read chapter 1 in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "So What's a Technical Writer?" and take the quiz.
Read chapter 2 in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "The Technical Writing Process" and take the quiz.
due—Oct. 18
Writing practice Use the study guide for writing practice to see the options, requirements, and guidelines for this project. due—Oct. 22

October 16: Special Notices and Highlighting
Special formatting. You see lots of highlighting (bold, italics, color, alternate fonts) in technical documents. When it becomes too much and therefore too busy, special notices are used instead.
Readings & practice Use the study guide on notices to learn some common standards and format for warning, cautions, dangers, and notes—specially formatted text that alerts readers to potential problems or special points or exceptions.
Use the study guide on highlighting to learn some of the common industry-standard styles for using bold, italics, alternate colors and fonts, and other such typographical effects. Practice applying existing highlighting schemes as well as designing your own.
due—Oct. 24
Readings & quizzes Read chapter 3 in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "Very Necessary Evils—doc plans and outlines" and take the quiz.
Read chapter 4 in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "The Technical Writer's Toolbox" and take the quiz.
due—Oct. 29

October 23: Writing Project 1—Instructions

Instructions. And now we get to instructions, the bread and butter of the technical writer. Here, all your studies of writing style, graphics, headings, vertical lists, notices, highlighting come into play. And, instructions are at the core of user guides, one of which you will write in a few weeks.
Writing project Use the project page for instructions and write a brief set of instructions, testing out what you've learned about headings, lists, and notices along with the basics of procedure writing. due—Nov. 5
Readings & quizzes Read chapter 5 in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "Getting Information" and take the quiz.
Read chapter 6 in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "Finally—it's time to start writing" and take the quiz.
due—Nov. 1

October 30: Tables, Charts, Graphs

Don't forget! Your writing practice was due yesterday.
Other formatting. Tables, charts, and graphs are more the province of the science-based technical writers.
:w!
Readings & practice Use the study guide on tables, charts, graphs to learn and practice the basic guidelines for designing tables by critiquing other tables and creating your own from raw data. due—Nov. 8
Readings & quizzes Read chapter 7 in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "Writing Task-Oriented Information" and take the quiz.
Read chapter 8 in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "Visual Communication" and take the quiz.
due—Nov. 8

November 6: Writing Project 2.User Guide

Don't forget! Your instructions are due at the of this week.
Readings & practice Read chapter 9 in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "The Importance of Being Edited" and take the quiz. due—Nov. 15

November 13: Writing Project 2—User Guide

User guides. If you have studied all of the units to this point in this course, you are ready to write some sort of user guide. It goes by various names, not just user guide but also names such as getting started guide and quick-start guide.
Readings & practice Read chapter 10 in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "Indexing" and take the quiz.
Read chapter 11 in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "Final Preparation—Production Editing" and take the quiz.

Note: Although we do not use chapters 12, 13, and 14 in this course, read through them—especially chapter 13, which is likely to be in your technical writing future.

due—Nov. 22
Writing project Follow the directions for user guide. In a longer set of instructions, apply what you've learned not only about headings, lists, and notices but also about highlighting, tables, graphics, and technical-writing style.
Consider sending in a first draft Nov. 27
due—Dec. 3

November 20: Writing Project 2—User Guide

User guides. Keep working on that user guide. due—Dec. 3

November 27: Tools for Professional Careers

Resumes. You've gotten a good hearty glimpse of technical writing to this point. You can now develop your resume and include information about what you've studied, what you've wrtitten.
Readings & practice Read appendix A in Pringle and O'Keefe, Technical Writing 101: A Real-World Guide to Planning and Writing Technical Content, "Getting Your First Job as a Technical Writer" and take the quiz. due—Dec. 6
Writing project Follow the directions for technical writer resumes. due—Dec. 10
Portfolios. Along with a resume, it's a good idea to start a portfolio which includes your resume and provides description and links to your writing projects.
Writing project Follow the directions for technical writer portfolios. due—Dec. 17

December 4: Tools for Professional Careers

Resumes and portfolios. Keep working on these two items. due—Dec. 17

December 11: Tools for Professional Careers

Resumes and portfolios. Revise these two items as necessary. due—Dec. 17

Maintained by davidm@austincc.edu.