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Class notes

Here's a list of things we've discussed in class that might be on your midterm or final. Let me know if you need help.

Form follows function

Skimmability

Know to new information pattern

Information hierarchy

Grind lines

Strategic use of white space

Action request/purpose

Pacing

All information is divisible

Notes on Technical Information Poster assignment

Technical writing is description, instruction, or a combination of the two. Awareness of which one of these tasks you are doing is critical to your document's success. 

For this assignment, you may choose any one of the above communication tasks, but I recommend the description of a technology for this occasion, simply because instructional/process content is easier to find when you don't have me breathing down your neck. However, the priority is to create what is useful to your client (SME). 

Planning for Usefulness

Provide the exact content your readers need. 

  1. Identify your readers' questions and subquestions. 

  2. Go beyond your readers' questions. 

  3. Find a superstructure that suggests questions your readers will ask. 

  4. Avoid information your readers don't need. 

Organize in a way that helps your readers perform their tasks.

  1. Group together items your readers will use together. 

  2. Organize hierarchically. 

  3. Give the bottom line first. 

  4. Adapt an appropriate superstructure. 

  5. Outline, if helpful. 

Help your readers quickly find what they want. 

  1. Create pathways and signposts that direct readers to the content they want. 

  2. Create a modular design if you have a complex audience. 

Help your readers quickly understand what you are saying. 

  1. Identify the background your readers need about the topic.

  2. Identify the background your readers need about the situation. 

  3. Identify your readers' cultural expectations. 

  4. Plan your graphics.