English 2311
Instructor: Brian Still

Next Class:

Read Chapter 3
Answer Question #1 on pg. 36


What is Technical Communication?

"particular purposes in particular situations
at particular points in time"

"Technical Writing is good writing easily understood by a tired man reading in bad light."

It is supposed to be understandable enough that the targeted audience can figure it out and use it.


How is it different from a typical essay?

What characterizes technical communications?


Generally technical in nature, but what is technical to one audience may not be so technical to another. The needs of the audience, then, determine the depth and detail of the information. You have to do your homework (audience analysis) to adjust the information so that it is accurate and appropriate for your audience.



Examples of context?



The audience constructs the meaning of the document whether you want it to or not, so to make sure it constructs the correct meaning, the information you provide must be understandable for that audience.


Information should be logical and accessible, and easy to comprehend and recall


Because many people are visual or can learn and understand, depending on the situation, by way of visuals instead of text, visuals are used to aid in understanding and decision making

Document Design

Typeface, white space, headings, multi-columns, and other document design techniques can contribute to accuracy as well as speed of comprehension and recall of information. Again, it is about audience need and expectations.


The point is that the audience can use the information--that's how it becomes useful knowledge.

To assure that a technical communication document is functional, it is often tested for usability. If testing provides answers for how the document's information can be made easier to understand and use, then the document is revised.

The revision may be ongoing, making the document a living thing that changes its look depending on new information or new audience needs or new situations.

What do we mean by usability? What sorts of
things make a document usable?

Language Conventions

Understanding the audience and the situation are also very important. The language you choose for the document, its complexity, etc., depends on the audience's level of awareness, reading level, need, etc.

What about Constraints?


Professors read school writing to test your knowledge; colleagues, supervisors, clients, and others in the workplace read your writing to use your knowledge.

Examples of Technical Communication?

A Practical Example: Describe a Dime

Faulty writing, whether inaccurate, unclear, or incomplete, can often lead to injury, damage or loss, for which both you and your company can be held liable.

To do it right:

  1. Understand your audience (who will read it)

  2. Understand the situation (what is the subject & purpose--what will be done or should be done and why is it being done)

  3. Gather, organize, and deliver the essential information

  4. Make a persuasive case

  5. Insure that you've satisfied the  4 C's:

Clear, Concise, Correct, & Compelling

How can we make these sentences more clear and concise:

"Power surges are associated, in a causative way, with malfunctions of computers."

"Our test results will be sent to you as soon as verification is completed."

"In View of the fact that the microscope is defective, we expect a refund of our full purchase expenditure."


1st Assignment: Introducing a Classmate