Technical Writing (English 3305) involves the study of principles and practices of technical writing. Its emphasis is on the style, organization and conventions of technical and research reports, proposals, memoranda, professional correspondence and instructions. Technical Writing is designed to improve the communication skills and career prospects of three groups:
- science and engineering majors preparing for technology-focused careers,
- humanities majors interested in exploring career options in technical communication, and
- students of any major who want to enhance their marketability by learning about workplace writing.
The projects for English 3305 are not like the projects of most university courses. You will produce documents for real clients and real situations. As your professor, I will evaluate your work, but any evaluation will be based on how well your documents meet the needs of your internal and external clients.
What is technical communication?
Technical communication is the relaying of complex information from one party to another. Technical communicators create documents that explain ideas and present arguments for both specialist and non-specialist readers.
Technical communication encompasses a variety of written genres including memos, letters, manuals, proposals, policies, procedures, documentation, and work logs. Technical communication also includes spoken forms of communication: speeches, briefings, consultations, knowledge-transfer sessions, etc.
The scope of technical communication as a field continues to widen as technology changes the way we communicate. Email, online help systems, websites, documentation databases, object-oriented documentation, and other technology-driven genres have provided and continue to provide resources and challenges for technical communicators.
You do not need an extensive background in science, technology, or writing to do well in this course. But you do need to be willing to read, think, and write about technical information.
What will you write?
This semester, you will produce technical documents in response to real-world technical writing situations. These documents will demonstrate your technical, rhetorical, and critical-thinking skills. They will also provide you with an opportunity to compose documents that meet a wide range of readers’ needs. Along the way, you’ll need to consider ethical approaches to document design and communicating technically.
Working individually, in small groups, and as a class, you will produce documents that demonstrate your credentials (such as résumés) and documents that demonstrate your technical and rhetorical proficiencies (such as reports and instructions). Throughout the semester, you will produce a variety of other documents, including training materials and user experience testing.