Chapter 7

Organizing Your Information

Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. © 2010 Pearson Education. Upper Saddle River, NJ, 07458. All Rights Reserved.

Group Members

Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. © 2010 Pearson Education. Upper Saddle River, NJ, 07458. All Rights Reserved.

” . . © 2010 Pearson Education. Upper Saddle River. NJ.Michael H. Markel Director of Technical Communication. Boise State University Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. to communicate a body of factual information that will help an audience understand a subject or carry out a task. 07458. All Rights Reserved.What is Technical Writing ? “Technical writing conveys specific information about a technical subject to a specific audience for a specific purpose…The words and graphics of technical writing are meant to be practical: that is.

.  There is no one correct way to move from gathering information to writing early drafts to producing final documents. Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century.  The writing process is sensitive to different contexts and situations. © 2010 Pearson Education.Writing as a Process  Both the Research and Draft phases of the PSA ask writers to strategize about organization. Upper Saddle River. All Rights Reserved. 07458. NJ.

07458. © 2010 Pearson Education. logic. freewriting. and/or clustering  Organize your information  Follows purpose. Upper Saddle River. All Rights Reserved. . audience. NJ. and ethics Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. listing.Predrafting Strategies     Confirm your purpose Analyze your audience Gather your information Develop ideas about the information  By collaboration and discussion.

All Rights Reserved. Upper Saddle River.Organizing Documents  Make your approach explicit  Identify the differences between primary and secondary points of information  Present task-based information in order  Consider how readers will access the information  Organize information in ways that present that information ethically Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. 07458. © 2010 Pearson Education. . NJ.

© 2010 Pearson Education. . NJ.Organizational Strategies          Sequential Chronological Order of Importance General/Specific Division Classification Cause and Effect Comparison and Contrast Spatial Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. Upper Saddle River. 07458. All Rights Reserved.

All Rights Reserved. 07458. then. after. finally  Use guide words for naming parts of the sequence  Phase One. © 2010 Pearson Education.Sequential  Move in a linear fashion through a process or procedure  Use numbered lists  Use transitional words  First. . NJ. Step Two Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. Upper Saddle River. next.

NJ. Upper Saddle River. All Rights Reserved. © 2010 Pearson Education. 07458. . use this approach to relate events to specific times  Use timelines to identify events in order  Use flowcharts to organize information Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century.Chronological  A variation on sequential.

NJ. All Rights Reserved. .Order of Importance  Emphasize or de-emphasize particular information  Use increasing order of importance when you your audience won’t have a printed copy  Use decreasing order to manage numerous points Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. © 2010 Pearson Education. Upper Saddle River. 07458.

General/Specific  Balance abstract ideas and concrete details within the document  Move from general to specific to provide background. scope. Upper Saddle River. and context for the more specific information  Move from specific to general to emphasize details and examples Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. . 07458. All Rights Reserved. NJ. © 2010 Pearson Education.

Division  Divide (or sub-divide) a whole idea. © 2010 Pearson Education. All Rights Reserved. 07458. or phenomenon into various components  Images and lists can help show the reader how parts relate to the whole Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. Upper Saddle River. . NJ. object.

. ideas. © 2010 Pearson Education.Classification  Group items. NJ. or events together according to their similarities  Use in feasibility studies that present multiple solutions to presented problems  Focus on particular keywords to identify the classifications and the rationales behind them Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. phenomena. All Rights Reserved. 07458. Upper Saddle River.

07458. Upper Saddle River.Cause and Effect  Explain relationships between events or reasons that something has happened or will happen  Understand that you are reporting plausible. causes Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. NJ. All Rights Reserved. . not definitive. © 2010 Pearson Education.

© 2010 Pearson Education. NJ.Comparison and Contrast  Compare similarities and differences among possible solutions to a problem  Recognize all the criteria involved  Present the parts of the whole in a way that allows readers to compare and contrast the whole together  Consider ethics — all options should be presented in the same light Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. . 07458. Upper Saddle River. All Rights Reserved.

Upper Saddle River. NJ. . like the path of a hurricane Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. 07458. like a map  Can guide readers through a process using a particular object or piece of equipment  Can also indicate movement. © 2010 Pearson Education. All Rights Reserved.Spatial  Assist readers in navigating information pertaining to physical space or objects  Can provide information about a distance or proximity.

© 2010 Pearson Education. 07458. All Rights Reserved. complex.Outline  Is especially useful for long. NJ. rather than as a rigid mechanism Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. . Upper Saddle River. and detailed documents  Encourages writers to think about:  How information flows logically  How to divide and label parts of the document  How to develop transitions within the document  Is best treated as a guide.

cover image. inside and return addresses. appendices. All Rights Reserved. executive summary/abstract. . and steps  End matter  Conclusions. Upper Saddle River. troubleshooting suggestions. © 2010 Pearson Education. table of contents. NJ. follow-up information Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. data. glossaries. definitions  Body  All the core information conveyed to the reader. date. 07458. including procedures.Parts of a Document  Front matter  Title. indexes.

Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. each effecting the other. and revising are all closely connected. All Rights Reserved. research. generating a strong statement of purpose. © 2010 Pearson Education. Upper Saddle River. .  In the first draft.  Drafting. focus on assembling all parts of the document.A Nonlinear Process  Workplace writers usually piece together bits of information into useful. NJ. and including supporting information. 07458. readable documents.

07458.Drafting the Introduction        Identify the purpose or objective Define the scope State the problem addressed Include relevant background information Define key terms Preview the organization Summarize the whole Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. Upper Saddle River. © 2010 Pearson Education. All Rights Reserved. NJ. .

07458. NJ. © 2010 Pearson Education. begin drafting here Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. . or guides are needed  Length: don't think about it  Work: since the body is where the work of the document gets done.Drafting the Body  Coverage: include all pertinent parts  Organization: try various strategies to determine which best suits your needs  Access: consider whether the organization is selfevident. Upper Saddle River. All Rights Reserved.

.Drafting the Conclusion  Draft the conclusion before the introduction  Offer summaries of information  Provide analytic predictions based on the information in the body  Make recommendations to the reader about how to respond or act  Issue a judgment about the information Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. © 2010 Pearson Education. 07458. All Rights Reserved. Upper Saddle River. NJ.

All Rights Reserved. Upper Saddle River. they can also limit creativity and lead to audience boredom. 07458. . NJ. Many companies often develop their own custom templates for documents.  However. Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century.Electronic Templates and Wizards  A template is a pre-established format for a document.  Wizards are interfaces that lead users through a particular task. © 2010 Pearson Education.  Both are useful for saving time and as shortcuts for those less familiar with document design.

© 2010 Pearson Education. NJ. 07458. .Dobrin / Weisser / Keller: Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century. Upper Saddle River. All Rights Reserved.

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