ENGL 2030 Introduction to Technical Writing


Catalog Description

Prerequisite: ENGL 1010. Introduction to the methods of and practice in organizing, developing, and expressing technical information and ideas to a variety of audiences; emphasis on understanding the rhetorical situation and developing a clear style.

Course Description

ENGL 2030, Introduction to Technical Writing, offers instruction in designing effective print and digital technical documents, with particular emphasis on common genres, such as instructions, procedures, definitions, descriptions, specifications, reports, and manuals. In addition, this course provides students with the opportunity to develop further their rhetorical skills and to refine their composing and revision practices and their development of a clear and effective style.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of their own writing processes;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how people read, use and respond to documents;
  • Analyze specific audiences and situations and translate that analysis into effective communication strategies;
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how text organization and the overall design of a document contributes to its effectiveness;
  • Demonstrate techniques for communicating specialist (often technical and scientific) material to non-expert audiences;
  • Demonstrate techniques for improving the clarity and concision of their prose;
  • Write in a variety of genres common in technical writing, such as instructions, procedures, definitions, descriptions, specifications, reports, and manuals
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the writing process as it occurs in professional settings, including:
    • Working collaboratively with experts, editors, and other writers
    • Revising documents in response to feedback from experts, editors, and other writers
    • Testing documents with actual users of those documents
    • Arriving at meetings and submitting work on time
  • Understand and practice principles of ethical communication

Course Outline

  • Understanding the writing process
  • Analyzing audiences for technical documents
    • Primary versus secondary audiences
    • Consumers and other product users
    • Subject matter experts
    • Field support personnel and other technicians
    • Decision-makers, such as stockholders, potential funders, managers
  • Understanding kinds and purposes of technical documents
    • Instructions
    • Procedures
    • Technical definitions and descriptions
    • Specifications
    • White papers
    • Usability tests and test reports
    • Manuals
    • Technical reports, such as feasibility reports and causal analysis reports
  • Writing technical documents
    • Strategies for analyzing the rhetorical situation
    • Strategies for making documents clear and concise
    • Effects of media on documents
    • Effects of new technologies on document design, management, and production processes
    • Conventions of documenting sources in technical documents
    • Upholding principles of ethical communication
  • The principles of technical communications
    • Adjusting writing to different social and cultural contexts
    • Communicating risk and safety-related information
    • Working with subject matter experts
    • Understanding usability

About the Banner: Detail from "Data visualization of Facebook relationships by the third-party app MyFnetwork" (image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_visualization#/media/File:Kencf0618Fac...)