Designed and Created Documentation of Data Security Procedures
Warren Wilson College
Missouri Western State University
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Pfeiffer, William S. Technical communication : a practical approach / William Sanborn Pfeiffer, Kaye Adkins. — 8th ed. p. cm. ISBN-13: 978-0-13-278578-5 ISBN-10: 0-13-278578-1 1. English language—Technical English—Problems, exercises, etc. 2. Communication of technical information—Problems, exercises, etc. 3. English language—Rhetoric—Problems, exercises, etc. 4. Technical writing–Problems, exercises, etc. I. Adkins, Kaye E. II. Title. PE1475.P47 2013 808.06’66–dc23 2011041404
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
ISBN 10: 0-13-278578-1 ISBN 13: 978-0-13-278578-5
Editorial Director : Vernon R. Anthony Executive Editor : Gary Bauer Editorial Assistant : Tanika Henderson Director of Marketing : David Gesell Marketing Manager : Stacey Martinez Marketing Assistant : Les Roberts Senior Managing Editor : JoEllen Gohr Senior Project Manager : Rex Davidson Senior Operations Supervisor : Pat Tonneman Creative Director: Andrea Nix
Art Director: Diane Y. Ernsberger Cover Designer : Diane Y. Ernberger Cover Image : iStockPhoto Media Project Manager : Karen Bretz Full-Service Project Management : Peggy Kellar Composition : Aptara/Falls Church Printer/Binder : R. R. Donnelley/Willard Cover Printer : Lehigh/Phoenix Color Hagerstown Text Font : Perpetua Std, 12/14 pt
Deepest thanks go to my family—Evelyn, Zachary, and Katie—for their love and support throughout this and every writing project I take on.
To those who have taught me about technical communication—Dr. Joanna Freeman, the programmers at Phoenix/SSC, TechWhirlers, my colleagues in ATTW and
CPTSC, and my former students who are now practitioners in the field. —Kaye
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Good writing is always a breaking of the soil, clearing away prejudices, pulling up of sour weeds of crooked thinking, stripping the turf so as to get at what is fertile beneath.
—Henry Seidel Canby (1878–1961), “Cultivate Your Garden”
Most writers agree with Henry Seidel Canby that writing is hard work, but well-crafted writing makes the effort worthwhile. Clear writing, of the kind we call technical writing or technical communication, helps businesses run more smoothly, helps government run more effectively, and helps all of us accomplish our goals.
To help you become an effective technical communicator, all editions of this book have stressed one simple principle: You learn to write well by doing as much writing as possible. This eighth edition adds new features that make it even more usable, without changing what has made the book work in all editions—updated models and references, clear explanations of the writing process, advice for using technology, and a new organi- zation that emphasizes the technical communication process in the workplace context.
The eighth edition continues the use of M-Global, the fictional company that serves as the basis for many examples and assignments. M-Global provides a complex case that runs throughout the book, with examples of technical communication practices in a vari- ety of professional fields. It reflects the communication experience of people at all stages of their careers, providing students with an insight into situations they will find as they start their careers, as well as introducing them to the kinds of communication challenges they will face as they advance professionally. The M-Global case also gives students a rich context for assignments. Students are welcomed to M-Global in the first chapter, and they learn more about the organization throughout the book, just as new employees are introduced to an organization with orientation and an employee handbook and then learn more about the organization and their colleagues as time passes.
At the start of our classes, we sometimes ask students to describe their professional goals for the next 10 years. As you might expect, they hope to rise to important positions in the workplace and make genuine contributions to their professions. Such long-term thinking is crucial, keeping you on course in your life.
Yet, ultimately, the way you handle the small details of daily life most influences the contribution you make in the long run. If you do good work, believe in what you do, and communicate well with others—both interpersonally and in writing—success will come your way. The author Robert Pirsig put it this way in his 1974 classic, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: “The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands, and then work outward from there.”
We believe—and this book tries to show—that clear, concise, and honest writing is one of the most powerful tools of your heart, head, and hands.
Kaye Adkins, Professor of English/Technical Communication Missouri Western State University
William S. Pfeiffer, President Warren Wilson College
>>> New Features of Technical Communication: A Practical Approach, Eighth Edition
Technical communication is a rapidly changing field that helps users adapt to advances in technology. At the same time, technical communicators must recognize the changes in how users access and use information about technology. Throughout this edition, you will find revisions and new information to reflect the changing field of technical communica- tion. First of all, the chapters have been reordered and grouped to reflect how writing is created and used in today’s workplace.
■ Part 1 , Introduction to Technical Communication, defines technical commu- nication as a practice. It helps students understand how they can apply what they have learned about the writing process in an academic setting to a workplace setting. The chapter on collaboration has been moved to this section to reflect its integral role in workplace writing.
■ Part 2 , Effective Workplace Documents, introduces students to the elements of all workplace documents, including organization and document design. It also includes a chapter on the most common form of workplace writing—correspondence.
■ Part 3 , Common Technical Communication Genres, explains the common genres traditional in technical communication—definitions, descriptions, process explanations, and instructions. These genres may serve as building blocks for larger documents, or they may stand by themselves.
■ Part 4 , Presenting Research, focuses on workplace research. The chapter on re- search has been moved so that it is the first chapter in this section, with an emphasis on the research processes common to technical communication. Although research is the basis of articles in professional journals, it is also the foundation for most reports, proposals, and white papers.
■ Part 5 , Alternatives to Print Text, brings together chapters that will help students present information in formats other than print text. As users access more information through digital and visual formats, alternatives to print text become more important.
■ Part 6 , Communicating a Professional Image, comprises two chapters to help students begin and succeed in professional careers.
Through all of the chapters, you will find a number of other changes as well. Chap- ters now open with a list of objectives, and the chapter summaries are presented as easy- to-read lists of key points from the chapter. Assignments at the end of the text are now clearly marked as Analysis or Practice exercises, and assignments placed in the context of M-Global are clearly identified. New and revised figures and models also appear in every chapter. Throughout the text, there is an increased emphasis on the use of computers in technical communication.
New and revised material in each chapter includes the following:
■ Chapter 1 now emphasizes the importance of context as an influence on the writing process and written documents. The information about M-Global, the fictional company
that is the basis for cases and examples throughout the book, is now collected in a model employee orientation document at the end of the chapter.
■ Chapter 2 includes an expanded discussion of how software tools are used in the writing process.
■ Chapter 3 has been moved in this edition to emphasize that collaboration is a writ- ing process, and that it is central to most workplace writing. The chapter has been expanded and now includes a section on writing in a Content Management System (CMS) environment.
■ Chapter 4 includes an expanded discussion of modular writing and new information about organizing digital documents for easy access by users.
■ Chapter 5 now treats document design as a whole, including navigation elements, color, fonts, and consistent design. It includes a new section on designing digital docu- ments for a variety of platforms and an increased emphasis on the role of computers in the document design process.
■ Chapter 6 now emphasizes the qualities that make all forms of business correspond- ence effective. Correspondence is now categorized by its purpose and content. The chapter includes expanded discussion of how context and purpose lead writers to choose among e-mail, letters, and memos.
■ Chapter 7 has expanded the discussion of definitions and descriptions, including new ABC guidelines for organizing each. The discussion of definitions has been expanded to include the importance of definitions of abstract concepts in daily life.
■ Chapter 8 has expanded the discussion of process explanations and instructions, includ- ing new ABC formats for each. The discussion of process explanations now includes a discussion of script formats and the use of scripts, flowcharts, and lists in process expla- nations. The chapter also includes a new section on point-of-use documentation.
■ Chapter 9 has been revised and reorganized to explain how and why research is con- ducted by professionals in the workplace. It explains the importance of literature re- views as the foundation of any research. It now introduces quantitative and qualitative research, including new information about research with human subjects. The chapter clearly distinguishes between primary and secondary sources. Discussion of online tools for research has been expanded. New sections in the chapter include an ABC for- mat for presenting technical research and usability testing as a form of research.
■ Chapter 10 now puts all of the information about informal and formal document formats in one chapter, removing redundancy from previous editions. The chapter in- cludes a new discussion of how to format documents to suit their context and purpose.
■ Chapter 11 now emphasizes two main purposes for reports—for information and for analysis. Informative reports are explained as a means of conducting daily opera- tions and record keeping in organizations. The chapter introduces guidelines and ABC formats for four types of informative reports: activity reports, progress reports, lab reports, and regulatory reports—a type of report new to this edition. Analytical re- ports are explained as a resource for problem solving in organizations. The chapter
introduces guidelines and ABC formats for four types of analytical reports: problem analyses, recommendation reports, feasibility studies, and equipment evaluations.
■ Chapter 12 now classifies proposals in three ways—as unsolicited or solicited, and as grant proposals (new to this edition). The chapter includes guidelines and ABC formats for these three types of proposals. Also new to this edition is a discussion of white papers, a type of document that is important to many organizations. The chap- ter includes two new models: a grant proposal and a white paper.
■ Chapter 13 includes new and updated discussion and examples. It includes two new sets of guidelines—for photographs and for screen captures. Included in the chapter is a discussion of how to take and use screen captures in documents.
■ Chapter 14 has been revised to emphasize the dynamic nature of Web pages and Web sites, and to focus on the importance of developing content with the user in mind. As Web sites have become increasingly complex, the role of technical com- municators in creating and maintaining Web sites has changed. The chapter has been revised to reflect those changes. The chapter includes three new models with sample Web pages from Web sites—a professional Web site and two student Web sites.
■ Chapter 15 includes a new section on poster sessions, with information about design- ing and printing posters.
■ Chapter 16 includes new information on the role of networking in the job search proc- ess. The chapter also includes a new section on portfolios for technical communicators.
■ Chapter 17 has expanded the discussion of sample sentence revisions. The section on sexist language has been revised to address multiple varieties of language bias. The chapter includes new discussion of the role of style sheets and style guides in work- place writing.
■ The information for speakers of English as a second language (ESL) has been moved from the Handbook to a separate appendix, to make it easier to access.
■ A new appendix has been added with suggestions for Further Reading . This bibliography includes all sources cited in the textbook, as well as additional readings, organized by general chapter topic.
>>> Core Features of Technical Communication: A Practical Approach
Chapter 1 Technical Communication in the Workplace
In this chapter, students will
■ Be introduced to the key characteristics of technical communication
■ Learn how workplace writing differs from academic writing
■ Learn the effect of organizational culture on workplace communication
■ Be introduced to communication challenges in the global economy
■ Learn basic ethical principles for use in the workplace
■ Be introduced to the M-Global case that is used throughout the book
>>> Chapter Objectives
Photo © Robnroll/Dreamstime.com
This edition continues the emphasis on the practi- cal aspects of technical communication in a work- place context.
Focus on Process and Product in a Workplace Context This book has students practicing writing early ( Chapter 1 ). The text immerses them in the proc- ess of technical writing while teaching practical formats for getting the job done.
163 Types of Messages in Correspondence
Any delay gives readers the chance to wonder whether the news will be good or bad, thus causing momentary confusion. On the left is a complete outline for positive correspondence that corresponds to the ABC format.
M-Global Case Study for a Positive Letter As a project manager at M-Global’s Houston office, Nancy Slade has agreed to complete a foundation investigation for a large church about 300 miles away. There are cracks in the basement floor slab and doors that do not close, so her crew needs a day to analyze the problem (observing the site, measuring walls, digging soil borings, taking samples, etc.). She took this small job on the condition that she could schedule it around several larger (and more profitable) projects in the same area during mid-August.
Yesterday, Nancy received a letter from the minister (speak- ing for the church committee), who requested that M-Global change the date. He had just been asked by the regional head- quarters to host a three-day conference at the church during the same time that M-Global was originally scheduled to complete the project.
ABC Format: Positive Correspondence
■ ABSTRACT Puts correspondence in the context of an ongoing professional relationship by referring to previous communication related to the subject
■ Clear statement of good news you have to report
■ BODY: Supporting data for main point mentioned in abstract
■ Clarification of any questions reader may have
■ Qualification, if any, of the good news
■ CONCLUSION: Statement of eagerness to continue relationship, complete project, etc.
■ Clear statement, if appropriate, of what step should come next
A Simple ABC Pattern for All Documents The “ABC format”— A bstract, B ody, and C onclusion—guides students’ work in this course and throughout their careers. This underlying three-part structure pro- vides a convenient handle for designing almost every technical document.
Chapter 6 Correspondence168
By taking an extra minute to check the style and tone of your message, you have the best chance of sending an e-mail that will be well received.
>> E-mail Guideline 1: Use Style Appropriate to the Reader and Subject E-mail sent early in a relationship with a client or other professional contact should be somewhat formal. It should be written more like a letter, with a salutation, closing, and complete sentences. E-mail written once a professional relationship has been estab- lished can use a more casual style. It can resemble conversation with the recipient on the phone. Sentence fragments and slang are acceptable, as long as they contribute to your objectives and are in good taste. Most important, avoid displaying a negative or angry tone. Don’t push the Send button unless an e-mail will produce a constructive exchange.
>> E-mail Guideline 2: Be Sure Your Message Indicates the Context to Which It Applies
Tell your readers what the subject is and what prompted you to write your message. If you are replying to a message, be sure to include the previous message or summarize the message to which you are replying. Most e-mail software packages include a copy of the message to which you are replying, as in Model 6–3 . However, you should make sure that you include only the messages that provide the context for your reader. Long strings of forwarded e-mail make it difficult to find the necessary information.
>> E-mail Guideline 3: Choose the Most Appropriate Method for Replying to a Message
Short e-mail messages may require that you write only a brief response at the beginning or end of the e-mail to which you are responding. For complex, multitopic messages, however, you may wish to split your reply by commenting on each point individually ( Figure 6–5 ).
>> E-mail Guideline 4: Format Your Message Carefully Because e-mail messages frequently replace more formal print-based documents, they should be organized and formatted so that the readers can easily locate the information you want to communicate.
■ Use headings to identify important chunks of information.
■ Use lists to display a series of information.
■ Use sufficient white space to separate important chunks of information.
■ Use separators to divide one piece of information from another.
Figure 6–6 illustrates an e-mail message with headings, separators, and white space.
>> E-mail Guideline 5: Chunk Information for Easy Scanning Break the information into coherent chunks dealing with one specific topic, including all the details that a reader needs to get all of the essential information. Depending on
Numbered Guidelines Many sets of short, numbered guidelines make this book easy to use to complete class projects. Each set of guidelines takes students through the process of finishing assignments, such as writing a proposal, doing research on the Internet, constructing a bar chart, and preparing an oral presentation.
478 Chapter 12 Proposals and White Papers
PROJECT 8: Designed and Created Documentation of Data Security Procedures
CLIENT: Kansas Department of Social and Health Services
■ Model 12–6 ■ continued
M-Global Inc | 127 Rainbow Lane | Baltimore MD 21202 | 410.555.8175
Brief Project Description In response to public concerns about the security of private data, the Kansas Department of Social and Health Services undertook a systematic documentation of all security protocols for personal information. Using the recommendations of an Information Systems Audit, M-Global created on-line and print documentation of computer security procedures.
Main Technical Tasks • Identified procedures to be documented • Designed information architecture for procedural documentation • Created on-line help files to be used by computer operators • Created print-format guide to data security procedures
Main Findings or Benefits • Assisted in meeting public expectations of privacy of confidential
information • New documentation contributed to improved security rating in follow-up
audit • Recognized by Kansans for Security and Privacy for contributions to
security of state records.
Daisuke Morita/Photodisc/Getty Images
M-Global, Inc.—A Fictional Company M-Global, Inc., creates a fictional com- pany for the classroom. Not all students have experience working in a professional or technical organization, so M-Global supplies a realistic backdrop for many of the book’s examples and assignments.
“Write About It” Assignments in Each Chapter Each “Communication Challenge” includes a writing as- signment that asks students to analyze and respond to the challenge and the discussion questions.
Chapter 6 Correspondence
over a four-hour period, for a list with almost 200
2. Read through the list of subject lines. Do any of them
seem inappropriate for the M-Global [NEWS] list, given
its users and its history?
3. Are there any subject lines that could be improved?
4. What do you think about Jeannie’s suggestion that all
messages sent to the [NEWS] list be approved before
being posted? What problems do you see with this
approach? What advantages?
5. What do you think of Janet’s decision to assign
the task of creating rules for the [NEWS] list to a
college intern? What benefits does it offer Bart?
What potential problems does he face in completing
Write About It
Assume the role of Bart. Do some research on netiquette
and decide what guidelines might apply to a list like the
employee [NEWS] list. Look over the subject lines and de-
cide what subjects, if any, should be kept off the list. Think
about what advice you might offer about subject lines for
the list. Do you like Jeannie’s idea about messages to the
list requiring approval? What alternatives are there? If
your campus has a similar list (or lists) that go out to ev-
eryone, look at the subjects of that list. Your instructor
may be willing to share the subjects of a day’s worth of
postings to any similar campus lists that she or he is on.
Write a persuasive memo to Janet that responds to Jean-
nie’s request and explains your reasons for your decisions.
Include citations from any sources that you have researched.
General Instructions Each Collaboration at Work exercise applies strategies for
working in teams to chapter topics. The exercise assumes
you (1) have been divided into teams of about three to six
students, (2) use team time inside or outside of class to com-
plete the case, and (3) produce an oral or written response.
For guidelines about writing in teams, refer to Chapter 3 .
Background for Assignment A century ago, business professionals had few opportuni-
ties for communication beyond the formal letter or meet-
ing; today, the range of options is incredibly broad. On one
hand, we marvel at the choices for getting our message
heard or read; on the other hand, the many ways to com-
municate present an embarrassment of riches that can be
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