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DEFINITION: Writing which communicates and interprets specialized information in a way that makes it useful for a reader. Reader-oriented writing which takes the complex and forbidding and makes it friendly, approachable, understandable and penetrable. NOTE: Technical Writing is a specific type of functional writing.
FORMAT AND LAYOUT 5: The writer creates an eye-catching presentation, effectively employing layout, graphics, and typographic devices to make the text as visually appealing as context requires. Editing is thorough.
The layout is attractive, effective, and appropriate. It is balanced, with good use of easy-on-the-eye white space. Key ideas stand out thanks to the writer’s effective use of typographic devices, including: º Boldface º Italics, underlining º Variations in Font style and size The writer uses graphics (illustrations, charts, graphs, etc.) to help the reader interpret data or draw conclusions. The text is carefully edited and free of errors in: º Spelling º Punctuation º Grammar and usage º Paragraphing º Capitalization
The writer creates visually coordinated presentation, with enough attention to layout, graphics, and typographic devices to make the text readable. Text is edited, though still flawed. The layout is appropriate and tends to highlight key areas. It is pleasant to look at and appropriate to purpose and audience. The writer occasionally (but somewhat randomly) makes use of typographic devices, including: º Boldface º Italics, underlining º Variations in Font style and size Use of graphics (illustrations, charts, graphs, etc.) is minimal - or those graphics used are not as clear as the reader would like. The text, though edited, still contains some noticeable errors in: º Spelling º Punctuation
Grammar and usage Paragraphing Capitalization Attention to layout, graphics, and typographic devices is minimal. Editing clearly needs work. The layout is cluttery, visually confusing or simply has a rough draft look. The writer rarely, if never, makes use of typographic devices, even when they would create emphasis or help key points stand out. Graphics are needed but not used - or else they create more confusion than understanding The text contains many noticeable and distracting errors in: º Spelling º Punctuation º Grammar and usage º Paragraphing º Capitalization STYLE, TONE, AND TERMINOLOGY 5: The style and tone reflect an enthusiasm for the topic and concern for the audience. The language is fully appropriate to both topic and audience. The overall message to the reader is, “This is an important, interesting topic; I want you to understand it as well as I do.” The writer’s voice conveys enthusiasm for the topic and a desire to hold the reader’s attention - but is also appropriate for the context. The language is clear and unambiguous; it contributes to the reader’s understanding. Technical terms are used when appropriate and explained or clarified as necessary for the audience. The style and tone reflect the writer’s comfort with the topic, but do not suggest enthusiasm. The language may sometimes be too inflated, jargonistic, technical, or simple for the audience, the topic, or both. The overall message to the reader is, “This is an OK topic; you’ll get the main idea if you hang in there.” The writer’s voice conveys limited enthusiasm for the topic - or it may inappropriate (e.g., too formal, too chatty) for the audience, topic, or both. The language is occasionally unclear or ambiguous; the reader sometimes wishes for more clarification, definition of a term, or just a good, clear example. Technical terms are sometimes used when they’re not needed, or else the language lacks the specificity and precision needed for the content area. The style and tone reflect the writer’s discomfort with and/or apparent indifference to the topic. The language tends to be too general to give the reader the information he/she needs; or else it is so inflated with jargon
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and technical terminology, that it’s virtually impenetrable. The overall message to the reader may be, “This is a confusing topic to me. Not that interesting, either.” OR, it may be, “I understand this, but I doubt if you do.” The writer does not seem to speak to any particular audience, or else the tone and language seem unsuited to the assumed audience. The language is unclear, ambiguous, hard to penetrate, or overly general; the reader may feel buried alive in jargon and technospeak - or may feel that nothing has really been clarified or explained. Technical terminology clutters up the text, or else the language is too general to convey the complexity required. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE 5: Information is presented in a way that is both engaging and informative. The first words capture the reader’s attention and looks at content to come. Main points stand out vividly. Key information is easy to spot. The order of information makes interpretation of the whole message easy. The message ends with information the reader needs to know and remember. Information is presented in a reasonably straightforward manner. The text makes an early connection to the main message. Main points can be inferred, but do not stand out. Key information can be located with a little work. The order of the information is occasionally confusing or puzzling, but still supports a reader’s understanding of the overall picture. The ending provides only limited sense of closure or resolution.
Lack of organization leaves the reader confused about what is most important. It is difficult to connect the opening to any overall purpose or issue. Main points are buried, not highlighted, and may be hard to infer. Key information is difficult to locate. Presentation seems random and does not support the reader’s understanding. The writing lacks a sense of closure or resolution; at the end, nothing stands out as “most important” in the reader’s mind.
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