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Technical Communication


Technical Communication Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Through clear advice and an accessible visual design, Mike Markels Technical Communication models the principles it teaches, offering practical strategies that students can put to use right away. Using a student-friendly voice, Mike Markel shows writers how to tackle the major types of documents and writing situations they will encounter in their professional lives. Excellent and always fresh sample documents and examples demonstrate effective techniques and offer plenty of opportunities for analysis, while interactive cases provide engaging scenarios for writing practice. The new edition incorporates the latest workplace and technology trends, offering new advice for how and why to use social media effectively in technical communication.

About the Author

MIKE MARKEL is director of technical communication at Boise State University, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. The former editor of IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, he is the author of numerous articles and six books about technical communication, including Ethics and Technical Communication: A Critique and Synthesis.

Table of Contents

* New to this edition
Preface for Instructors

Introduction for Writers

PART 1: Understanding the Technical Communication Environment
1.   Introduction to Technical Communication

What Is Technical Communication?

*What Are Your Roles as a Communicator?

Technical Communication and Your Career

Characteristics of a Technical Document

   Addresses Particular Readers

   Helps Readers Solve Problems

   Reflects the Organizations Goals and Culture

   Is Produced Collaboratively

   Uses Design to Increase Readability

   Consists of Words or Images or Both

     -Interactive Sample Document: Studying How Technical Communication Combines Words,   

      Graphics, and Design

A Look at Three Sample Documents

Measures of Excellence in Technical Communication







   Professional Appearance


Writers Checklist


*Case 1: Using the Measures of Excellence in Evaluating a Résumé

2.   Understanding Ethical and Legal Considerations

A Brief Introduction to Ethics

Your Ethical Obligations

   Obligations to Your Employer

   Obligations to the Public

   Obligations to the Environment

Your Legal Obligations

   Copyright Law

     -Guidelines: Determining Fair Use

     -Guidelines: Dealing with Copyright Questions

     -Ethics Note: Distinguishing Plagiarism from Acceptable Reuse of Information

   Trademark Law

     -Guidelines: Protecting Trademarks

   Contract Law

   Liability Law

     -Guidelines: Abiding by Liability Laws

The Role of Corporate Culture in Ethical and Legal Conduct

     -Interactive Sample Document: Linking Values and Conduct

Communicating Ethically Across Cultures

   Communicating with Cultures with Different Ethical Beliefs

   Communicating with Cultures with Different Laws

Principles for Ethical Communication

   Abide by Relevant Laws

   Abide by the Appropriate Professional Code of Conduct

  *Abide by Your Organizations Policy on Social Media

   Take Advantage of Your Employers Ethics Resources

   Tell the Truth

   Dont Mislead Your Readers

   Use Design to Highlight Important Ethical and Legal Information

   Be Clear

   Avoid Discriminatory Language

   Acknowledge Assistance from Others

Writers Checklist


*Case 2: The Ethics of Requiring That Students Subsidize a Plagiarism-Detection Service

3.   Writing Technical Documents


   Analyzing Your Audience

   Analyzing Your Purpose

   Generating Ideas About Your Subject

   Researching Additional Information

   Organizing and Outlining Your Document

     -Tech Tip: How to Use the Outline View

   Selecting an Application, a Design, and a Delivery Method

   Devising a Schedule and a Budget


     -Guidelines: Drafting Effectively

   Using Templates

     -Tech Tip: How to Modify Templates

     -Interactive Sample Document: Identifying the Strengths and Weaknesses of a Commercial   


   Using Styles

     -Tech Tip: How to Use the Styles Group


   Studying the Draft by Yourself

   Seeking Help from Others

     -Ethics Note: Acknowledging Reviewers Responsibly



Writers Checklist


*Case 3: Understanding Why Revision Software Cannot Revise and Edit Your Document

4.   Writing Collaboratively

Advantages and Disadvantages of Collaboration

   Advantages of Collaboration

   Disadvantages of Collaboration

Managing Projects

     -Guidelines: Managing Your Project

Conducting Meetings

   Listening Effectively

     -Guidelines: Listening Effectively

   Setting Your Teams Agenda

     -Guidelines: Setting Your Teams Agenda

     -Ethics Note: Pulling Your Weight on Collaborative Projects

   Conducting Efficient Meetings

   Communicating Diplomatically

     -Guidelines: Communicating Diplomatically

   Critiquing a Team Members Work

     -Guidelines: Critiquing a Colleagues Work

*Using Your Word Processor as a Collaboration Tool

     -Tech Tip: How to Use the Review Tab

     -Interactive Sample Document: Critiquing a Draft Clearly and Diplomatically

*Using Other Electronic Tools in Collaboration

   *Messaging Technologies


     -Guidelines: Participating in a Videoconference

   *Wikis and Shared Document Workspaces

   *Virtual Worlds

    *-Ethics Note: Maintaining a Professional Presence Online

Gender and Collaboration

Culture and Collaboration

Writers Checklist


*Case 4: Accommodating a Team Members Scheduling Problems

PART 2: Planning the Document
5.   Analyzing Your Audience and Purpose

Using an Audience Profile Sheet

Determining the Important Characteristics of Your Audience

   Who Are Your Readers?

   Why Is Your Audience Reading Your Document?

   What Are Your Readers Attitude and Expectations?

   How Will Your Readers Use Your Document?

Techniques for Learning About Your Audience

   Determining What You Already Know About Your Audience

   Interviewing People

 *Reading About Your Audience Online

 *Searching Social Media for Documents Your Audience Has Written

Communicating Across Cultures

   Understanding the Cultural Variables “on the Surface”

   Understanding the Cultural Variables “Beneath the Surface”

   Considering Cultural Variables as You Write

     -Guidelines: Writing for Readers from Other Cultures

     -Interactive Sample Document: Examining Cultural Variables in a Business Letter

Applying What You Have Learned About Your Audience

     -Ethics Note: Meeting Your Readers Needs Responsibly

Using Graphics and Design for Multicultural Readers

Writing for Multiple Audiences

Determining Your Purpose

Gaining Managements Approval

Revising Information for a New Audience and Purpose

Writers Checklist


*Case 5: Reaching Out to a New Audience

6.   Researching Your Subject

Understanding the Differences Between Academic and Workplace Research

Understanding the Research Process

Choosing Appropriate Research Methods

     -Guidelines: Researching a Topic

Conducting Secondary Research

   Understanding the Research Media

   Using Traditional Research Tools

 *Using Social Media and Other Interactive Resources

   Evaluating the Information

     -Guidelines: Evaluating Print and Online Sources

     -Interactive Sample Document: Evaluating Information from Internet Sources

Conducting Primary Research

   Observations and Demonstrations



   Field Research


     -Guidelines: Conducting an Interview



     -Ethics Note: Reporting and Analyzing Data Honestly

Writers Checklist


*Case 6: Revising a Questionnaire

7.   Organizing Your Information

Understanding Three Principles for Organizing Technical Information

   Analyzing Your Audience and Purpose

   Using Conventional Patterns of Organization

   Displaying Your Organizational Pattern Prominently

Using Basic Organizational Patterns


     -Guidelines: Organizing Information Chronologically


     -Guidelines: Organizing Information Spatially

   General to Specific

     -Guidelines: Organizing Information from General to Specific

   More Important to Less Important

     -Guidelines: Organizing Information from More Important to Less Important

   Comparison and Contrast

     -Guidelines: Organizing Information by Comparison and Contrast

     -Ethics Note: Comparing and Contrasting Fairly

     -Interactive Sample Document: Comparing and Contrasting Honestly

   Classification and Partition

     -Guidelines: Organizing Information by Classification or Partition


     -Guidelines: Organizing Information by Problem-Methods-Solution

   Cause and Effect

     -Guidelines: Organizing Information by Cause and Effect

Writers Checklist


*Case 7: Organizing a Document for Clarity—and Diplomacy

PART 3: Developing and Testing the Verbal and Visual Information

8.   Communicating Persuasively

Considering the Context of Your Argument

   Understanding Your Audiences Broader Goals

   Working Within Constraints

Crafting a Persuasive Argument

   Identifying the Elements of Your Argument

   Using the Right Kinds of Evidence

     -Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing Evidence in an Argument

   Considering Opposing Viewpoints

   Appealing to Emotions Responsibly

   Deciding Where to Present the Claim

 *Understanding the Role of Culture in Persuasion

Avoiding Logical Fallacies

Presenting Yourself Effectively

     -Guidelines: Creating a Professional Persona

Using Graphics as Persuasive Elements

     -Ethics Note: Seeming Honest Versus Being Honest in Persuasive Writing

A Look at Several Persuasive Arguments

Writers Checklist


*Case 8: Analyzing the Fitness of Arguments

9.   Writing Coherent Documents

*Reviewing the Whole Document for Coherence

Writing Coherent Titles

Writing Coherent Headings

     -Guidelines: Revising Headings

Writing Coherent Lists

Writing Coherent Paragraphs

   Structuring Paragraphs Clearly

     -Ethics Note: Avoiding Burying Bad News in Paragraphs

     -Guidelines: Dividing Long Paragraphs

   Using Coherence Devices Within and Between Paragraphs

     -Interactive Sample Document: Identifying the Elements of a Coherent Paragraph

Creating a Coherent Design

   Using Headers and Footers to Enhance Coherence

   Using Typefaces to Enhance Coherence

     -Tech Tip: How to Modify and Create Styles

Writers Checklist


*Case 9: Highlighting the Coherence of a Passage

10. Writing Effective Sentences

Structuring Effective Sentences

   Use Lists

     -Guidelines: Creating Effective Lists

     -Tech Tip: How to Create Numbered and Bulleted Lists

   Emphasize New and Important Information

   Choose an Appropriate Sentence Length

   Focus on the “Real” Subject

   Focus on the “Real” Verb

   Use Parallel Structure

   Use Modifiers Effectively

Choosing the Right Words and Phrases

   Select an Appropriate Level of Formality

   Be Clear and Specific

     -Ethics Note: Euphemisms and Truth Telling

   Be Concise

     -Interactive Sample Document: Revising for Conciseness and Simplicity

   Use Inoffensive Language

     -Guidelines: Avoiding Sexist Language

     -Guidelines: Using the People-First Approach

Understanding Simplified English for Nonnative Speakers

Preparing Text for Translation

Writers Checklist


*Case 10: Revising a Document for Nonnative Speakers and for Translation

11. Designing Documents and Web Sites

Goals of Document and Web Design

Understanding Design Principles





Planning the Design of Documents and Web Sites

   Analyze Your Audience and Purpose

   Determine Your Resources

Designing Documents




   Accessing Tools

Designing Pages

     -Tech Tip: How To Set Up Pages

     -Guidelines: Understanding Learning Theory and Page Design

   Page Layout


     -Tech Tip: How to Format Columns


     -Tech Tip: How to Format Fonts

     -Ethics Note: Using Type Sizes Responsibly

     -Tech Tip: How to Modify Line Spacing

     -Tech Tip: How to Modify Justification

   Titles and Headings

   Other Design Features

     -Tech Tip: How to Create Borders and Screens

     -Tech Tip: How to Create Text Boxes

Analyzing Some Page Designs

     -Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing a Page Design

Designing Web Sites

   Create Informative Headers and Footers

   Help Readers Navigate the Site

     -Guidelines: Making Your Site Easy to Navigate

   Include Extra Features Your Readers Might Need

 *Help Readers Connect with Others

   Design for Readers with Disabilities

   Design for Multicultural Audiences

     -Ethics Note: Designing Legal and Honest Web Sites

Designing Web Pages

   Aim for Simplicity

     -Guidelines: Designing a Simple Site

   Make the Text Easy to Read and Understand

     -Guidelines: Designing Easy-to-Read Text

   Create Clear, Informative Links

     -Guidelines: Writing Clear, Informative Links

Analyzing Some Web Page Designs

Writers Checklist


*Case 11: Designing a Flyer

12. Creating Graphics

The Functions of Graphics

The Characteristics of an Effective Graphic

     -Ethics Note: Creating Honest Graphics

     -Guidelines: Integrating Graphics and Text

Understanding the Process of Creating Graphics

   Planning Graphics

   Producing Graphics

    -Tech Tip: How to Insert and Modify Graphics

   Revising Graphics

   Citing Graphics

Using Color Effectively

Choosing the Appropriate Kind of Graphic

   Illustrating Numerical Information

     -Guidelines: Creating Effective Tables

     -Tech Tip: How to Use Tab Stops

     -Tech Tip: How to Create Tables

     -Tech Tip: How to Create Graphics in Excel

     -Guidelines: Creating Effective Bar Graphs

     -Tech Tip: How to Use Drawing Tools

     -Guidelines: Creating Effective Line Graphs

     -Guidelines: Creating Effective Pie Charts

   Illustrating Logical Relationships

     -Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing a Graphic

   Illustrating Process Descriptions and Instructions

   Illustrating Visual and Spatial Characteristics

     -Guidelines: Presenting Photographs Effectively

     -Tech Tip: How to Create and Insert Screen Shots

Creating Effective Graphics for Multicultural Readers

Writers Checklist


*Case 12: Creating Appropriate Graphics to Accompany a Report

13. Reviewing, Evaluating, and Testing Documents and Web Sites

Understanding Reviewing, Evaluating, and Testing

Reviewing Documents and Web Sites



     -Guidelines: Editing the Draft


Conducting Usability Evaluations

Conducting Usability Tests

   The Basic Principles of Usability Testing

   Preparing for a Usability Test

   Conducting a Usability Test

     -Ethics Note: Understanding the Ethics of Informed Consent

     -Interactive Sample Document: Obtaining Informed Consent

   Interpreting and Reporting the Data from a Usability Test

Writers Checklist


*Case 13: Revising a Document for a New Audience

PART 4: Learning Important Applications
14. Writing Correspondence

Understanding the Process for Writing Correspondence

Selecting a Type of Correspondence

Presenting Yourself Effectively in Correspondence

   Use the Appropriate Level of Formality

   Communicate Correctly

   Project the “You Attitude”

   Avoid Correspondence Clichés

   Communicate Honestly

     -Ethics Note: Writing Honest Business Correspondence

Writing Letters

   Elements of a Letter

   Format of a Letter

   Common Types of Letters

Writing Memos

     -Guidelines: Organizing a Memo

Writing E-mails

     -Guidelines: Following Netiquette

     -Interactive Sample Document: Following Netiquette in an E-mail Message

*Writing Microblogs

Writing Correspondence to Intercultural Readers

Writers Checklist


*Case 14: Employing the “You Attitude” in a “Bad News” Letter

15. Writing Job-Application Materials

Understanding the Job-Application Process

Planning the Job Search

Understanding Eight Ways to Look for a Position

Understanding the Risks and Benefits of Social Media and the Job Search

Writing Paper Résumés

    Appearance of the Résumé

    Content of the Résumé

     -Ethics Note: Writing Honest Job-Application Materials

    Elements of the Chronological Résumé

     -Guidelines: Elaborating on Your Education

    Elements of the Skills Résumé

Writing Electronic Résumés

    Content of the Electronic Résumé

    Format of the Electronic Résumé

     -Guidelines: Preparing a Plain-Text Résumé

     -Interactive Sample Document: Preparing a Plain-Text Résumé

     -Guidelines: Preparing a Scannable Résumé

Writing Job-Application Letters

    The Concepts of Selectivity and Development

    Elements of the Job-Application Letter

Preparing for a Job Interview

     -Guidelines: Preparing for a Job Interview

Writing Follow-up Letters or E-mails After an Interview

Writers Checklist


*Case 15: Adding “Social” to “Networking”

16. Writing Proposals

Understanding the Process of Writing Proposals

The Logistics of Proposals

    Internal and External Proposals

    Solicited and Unsolicited Proposals

The “Deliverables” of Proposals

    Research Proposals

    Goods and Services Proposals

Persuasion and Proposals

    Understanding Readers Needs

    Describing What You Plan to Do

    Demonstrating Your Professionalism

     -Guidelines: Demonstrating Your Professionalism in a Proposal

     -Ethics Note: Writing Honest Proposals

Writing a Proposal

The Structure of the Proposal



     -Guidelines: Introducing a Proposal

    Proposed Program

      -Interactive Sample Document: Writing the Proposed Program

    Qualifications and Experience



     -Tech Tip: How to Create a Gantt Chart

*Sample Internal Proposal

Writers Checklist


*Case 16: Revising a Brief Proposal

17. Writing Informational Reports

Understanding the Process of Writing Informational Reports

Writing Directives

     -Interactive Sample Document: Writing a Persuasive Directive

Writing Field Reports

     -Guidelines: Responding to Readers Questions in a Field Report

Writing Progress and Status Reports

     -Ethics Note: Reporting Your Progress Honestly

   Organizing Progress and Status Reports

   Concluding Progress and Status Reports

     -Guidelines: Projecting an Appropriate Tone in a Progress or Status Report

*Sample Progress Report

Writing Incident Reports

Writing Meeting Minutes

Writers Checklist


*Case 17: Writing a Directive About Using Agendas for Meetings

18. Writing Lab Reports

Persuasion and Lab Reports

Understanding the Process of Writing Lab Reports

Understanding the Structure of the Lab Report




     -Guidelines: Writing Equations

   Materials and Methods


     -Ethics Note: Presenting Data Honestly






     -Interactive Sample Document: Evaluating Lab Reports

Understanding the Role of Science and Engineering Articles

Sample Lab Report

Writers Checklist


*Case 18: Introducing the Scientific Method Through a Lab Report

19. Writing Recommendation Reports

*Understanding the Role of Recommendation Reports

Using a Problem-Solving Model for Preparing Recommendation Reports

   Identify the Problem or Opportunity

   Establish Criteria for Responding to the Problem or Opportunity

   Determine the Options

   Study Each Option According to the Criteria

   Draw Conclusions about Each Option

   Formulate Recommendations Based on the Conclusions

     -Ethics Note: Presenting Honest Recommendations

Writing Recommendation Reports

     -Guidelines: Writing Recommendations

Writing the Body of the Report

Writing the Front Matter

     -Tech Tip: How to Format Headers, Footers, and Page Numbers

     -Tech Tip: How to Create a Table of Contents

     -Guidelines: Writing an Executive Summary

     -Interactive Sample Document: Analyzing an Executive Summary

Writing Back Matter

*Sample Recommendation Report

Writers Checklist


*Case 19: Analyzing Decision Matrices

20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions

Writing Definitions

   Analyzing the Writing Situation for Definitions

   Determining the Kind of Definition to Write

     -Guidelines: Writing Effective Sentence Definitions

   Deciding Where to Place the Definition

Writing Descriptions

   Analyzing the Writing Situation for Descriptions

   Indicating Clearly the Nature and Scope of the Description

   Introducing the Description Clearly

   Providing Appropriate Detail

    -Guidelines: Providing Appropriate Detail in Descriptions

   Concluding the Description

   A Look at Sample Descriptions

Writing Instructions

   Designing a Set of Instructions

     -Guidelines: Designing Clear, Attractive Pages

   Planning for Safety

     -Ethics Note: Protecting Your Readers Safety

   Drafting Effective Instructions

     -Guidelines: Drafting Introductions for Instructions

     -Guidelines: Drafting Steps in Instructions

   Revising, Editing, and Proofreading Instructions

   A Look at Sample Instructions

     -Interactive Sample Document: Presenting Clear Instructions

Writing Manuals

Writers Checklist


*Case 20: Balancing Clarity, Conciseness, and Usability in a Description

21. Making Oral Presentations

Understanding the Role of Oral Presentations

Understanding the Process of Preparing and Delivering an Oral Presentation

Preparing a Presentation

   Analyzing the Speaking Situation

   Organizing and Developing the Presentation

     -Guidelines: Introducing a Presentation

     -Guidelines: Concluding a Presentation

   Preparing Presentation Graphics

     -Tech Tip: How to Create a Master Page Design in PowerPoint

     -Tech Tip: How to Set List Items to Appear and Dim During a Presentation

     -Interactive Sample Document: Integrating Graphics and Text on a Presentation Slide

   Choosing Effective Language

     -Guidelines: Using Memorable Language in Oral Presentations

   Rehearsing the Presentation

Delivering a Presentation

   Calming Your Nerves

     -Guidelines: Releasing Nervous Energy

   Using Your Voice Effectively

   Using Your Body Effectively

    -Guidelines: Facing an Audience

Answering Questions After a Presentation

     -Ethics Note: Answering Questions Honestly

Sample Evaluation Form

Writers Checklist


*Case 21: Understanding the Claim-and-Support Structure for Presentation Graphics

22. Connecting with the Public

*Understanding the Role of Connecting with the Public

Persuasion and Connecting with the Public

Presenting Information to the Public


     -Guidelines: Designing an Effective Newsletter

     -Interactive Sample Document: Evaluating the Design of a Newsletter


     -Guidelines: Creating a Brochure

   White Papers

     -Guidelines: Writing a White Paper

     -Ethics Note: Marketing Your Organization Honestly


*Collaborating with the Public Through Social Media

   Discussion Boards

     -Guidelines: Participating in Discussion Boards


     -Guidelines: Being a Responsible Blogger


     -Guidelines: Using and Participating in Wikis Effectively

Writers Checklist


*Case 22: Considering a One-to-Many Model on Your Companys Site

APPENDIX: Reference Handbook

Part A: Skimming Your Sources and Taking Notes



Part B: Documenting Your Sources

   APA Style

   IEEE Style

   MLA Style

Part C: Editing and Proofreading Your Documents

   Grammatical Sentences



   Proofreading Symbols and Their Meanings

Part D: Guidelines for Multilingual Writers (ESL)

   Cultural and Stylistic Communication Issues

   Sentence-Level Issues


Selected Bibliography


Product Details

Markel, Mike
Bedford Books
Composition & Creative Writing
Publication Date:
9.125 x 7.875 in

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