Annemarie Hamlin, Central Oregon Community College
Chris Rubio, Central Oregon Community College
Pub Date: 2016
Publisher: Open Oregon Educational Resources
Read This Book
Conditions of Use
The text covers proposals and progress reports in depth with links to examples of other types of technical writing including resumes and instructions read more
The text covers proposals and progress reports in depth with links to examples of other types of technical writing including resumes and instructions (but no discussion of these forms in depth). The text does not cover multi-cultural audience in any depth and does not consider disabled audiences (including visually impaired audiences). The text does not include an index or glossary.
The book is accurate, error-free, and unbiased.
The text begins with the most common kinds of professional communication, including texts and e-mails, which demonstrates an understanding of current workplace needs. This section may need updating since technology brings changes to workplace communications. The section on research rightly emphasizes electronic sources, and this too, may need updating as library databases and other electronic sources may change. Other sections, like the ones on audience and ethics, will not need updating.
Students would enjoy the bulleted lists and simple, readable prose. The authors provide some excellent, labeled figures and graphics so that students can comprehend the main ideas quickly. The authors do a good job of defining terms, but students will need to read the text to discover the important terms; no sidebars or lists are used to call attention to specialized vocabulary.
The formatting and tone are consistent with good use of numbered sub-topics and bulleted lists in each chapter. The sources provided as links are not consistent with the formatting of the main text. For instance, the link to examples (titled "Online Technical Writing: Contents") uses yellow background and blue lettering, and does not include any explanatory text. This linked resource is not formatted as professionally as the main text. The terminology is internally consistent.
The text is well organized and clearly divided into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course.
Problems with organization: Since the topic of "ethics" is one that applies to all forms of technical writing, it seems out of place as "Chapter 9." It also seems that "Outlines" might be addressed sooner since those could apply to writing proposals as well as progress reports. Finally, it seems odd to separate the chapters on graphics and document design (they are chapters 8 and 10 with the ethics chapter in between them. The overall organization progresses logically from shorter forms of technical writing to longer, more complex ones.
The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems or problems with display.
The authors observe standard conventions of grammar.
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive. The authors could do more to include a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds as part of their discussion of "audience"
The text does an especially good job of explaining how to write proposals and reports in a clear, step-by-step manner.
The text covers all areas that are part of the technical writing curriculum. There is a detailed Table of Contents that lays out the subjects that read more
The text covers all areas that are part of the technical writing curriculum. There is a detailed Table of Contents that lays out the subjects that are covered. There is no index or glossary.
Content is accurate and error-free.
Content is current for the technical market. It covers current topics and concerns, but also includes all the traditional topics expected for Technical Writing courses.
The text gives full explanation of the content.
The text was consistent with its terms.
The text is divided into multiple sections that are each on a different topic or focus so these sections could be easily assigned at different point for a course.
The topics of the text are ordered in a logical way, beginning with topics that should be covered first in a Technical Writing course.
Some of the images are blurry and hard to see. The 2 videos are designed by an instructor for a specific course and reference specific assignments for that course so these are not good choices for this textbook that is meant to be a general source for any Technical Writing course.
The text contains no grammatical errors.
The text is presented in a neutral way with no offensive or insensitive words or examples.
The format of the content is very text heavy in paragraph structure, which is odd for a Technical Writing book because a general rule in Technical Writing is to use shorter, concise paragraphs with more lists, bullets, and tables for easy reading and referencing of the information. In addition, the text needs more real-life example that demonstrate the points being made in each section.
The text covers a good amount of information related to technical writing; some of the sections are more in depth than others. Many sections would read more
The text covers a good amount of information related to technical writing; some of the sections are more in depth than others. Many sections would benefit from further inquiry to assist students with more complex issues in the field of technical writing and communications. While all of the topics are relevant, it sticks to the basics of each topic without exploring innovations and trends in the field. The topics covered are appropriate for a low-level, introductory course in technical writing.
The book is accurate and unbiased. It is a straight-forward text that introduces the basics of technical writing in a clear, error-free format. Each chapter provides references and is accurately cited. The examples are neutral and helpful.
The content is relevant, but not exhaustive. The text does not cover new trends in the field. Many technical writing students, particularly in community college courses, are entering a variety of fields. While this text provides the basics of technical writing, it does not help with a variety of concerns students may face in their chosen fields. The text is arranged in way that will allow for necessary updates moving forward. The text seamlessly incorporates modalities, like video links, that prove helpful as examples. More of these new modalities are desirable as writing and reading moves to the Internet. There are places in the text that could benefit from utilizing new, innovative examples.
The text is written clearly and concisely. Each chapter is divided into sections. The section and chapter headings create parallelism that helps its overall clarity. The table of contents is clear and easy to use. There is not a lot of technical jargon present; the lack of technical writing terminology is one reason the book reads like introductory material.
The text is consistent in its layout. It is easy to use and access. The structural framework of the text is effective for online reading.
The text is not self-referential, but it does reference information only relevant to COCC. The text is divided in a way that feels manageable for students. The downside is the text borders on being too modular. The sections felt purposefully shortened and many chapters left me wanting more information. For instance, visual rhetoric and page layout were lumped together with audience. And in terms of this topic, topics like those deserve their own exploration.
The text works itself through the basics, from small workplace writing tasks like emails and memos, up through more complex writing like proposals and reports. Thought was given to the order of the text and it is logical and predictable.
There were no interface issues as I reviewed the text. i downloaded it as a PDF and also read some parts online.
The text contains no grammatical errors. It was edited well. The grammar is basic and reads at an introductory level reading.
The text remains neutral and uses voice or cartoon like figures in some of the videos. I would have liked to see more examples throughout the text. Visuals and page layout are important features of a lot of technical writing and this text doesn't take advantage of opportunities to incorporate a variety of examples. There are opportunities throughout the book that allow for incorporation of examples from fields of nursing, human services, engineering, computer science, and education.
It should be noted that I am reviewing this text for a 200 level course. At Chemeketa Community College students enter technical writing after completing two-three levels of prerequisite writing courses. Technical writing is the highest level of writing students receive before they enter their professional fields or transfer to four-year universities. The book is well written, clear, useful, and comprehensive for an introductory course, but not for a higher level technical writing course. Much of the focus felt repetitive and covered skills students in technical writing should already possess. There were missed opportunities to expand some of the more relevant topics, like the importance of visual rhetoric in page layout; solicited and unsolicited proposals; and, analytical report writing like feasibility studies.
The text does not include an index or glossary, but does provide a comprehensive table of contents. The text introduces itself as an introductory read more
The text does not include an index or glossary, but does provide a comprehensive table of contents. The text introduces itself as an introductory text to technical writing (or communication), and provides a definition of technical communication that is limited to the types, content, and coverage of texts created. A more comprehensive text would address some of the responsibilities of technical writing as it relates to the technical writer herself: team building and collaboration, intermediary across multiple departments and divisions; and negotiator of meaning in workplace cultures. Also missing from the text are generous examples of document types generated by technical writers, like websites, brochures and flyers, and other types of written communication. The text's focus on report writing seems limiting, and its approach to technical writer as largely autonomous does not accurately reflect the complexity of technical writing workplaces.
The content is up-to-date and appears to be thoroughly accurate. Its authors clearly understand and practice technical communication, and its integration of external tools and links are current, complete, and appropriate to the content of the text itself. Chapters in the text address real-world examples and seek to connect communication techniques to workplace and technical contexts. Of particular importance is the text's approach to communication as audience focused and customized; this reflects theoretical accuracy and currency in technical and professional writing and, more broadly, in rhetoric and communications.
The applicability of this question to a text on technical communication is somewhat misplaced; technical writing handbooks must follow technical advances that will necessarily render older technologies less relevant. For example, the section on texting would not have appeared in earlier editions of this text, while the section on memoranda feels somewhat dated in paper-less or paper-reduced workplaces. As a result, the content will regularly have to be updated as modes and media of communication and writing evolve. This is a problem of all technical writing texts, but it's particularly acute as it relates to an online text, which will likely be expected to be current, relevant, and inclusive of the latest trends in technology and writing.
The text is remarkably approachable to its intended audience, those entering into the field of technical writing or those who will, by virtue of their technical positions, be required to compose technical artifacts. Its prose is clear and specific, and it follows the guidelines for writing technical prose that it presents to reader: clear, concise, and effective.
The field of technical and professional communication tends to use terms somewhat synonymously, so the conflation of certain terms in the text is not unusual in the field. For example, “writing” and “communication” are often used largely synonymously in the field, and that practice is also followed throughout this text. The same is true of “business” and “professional” as it relates to writing and communication. An introductory text should seek to better follow consistency while explaining the issues that exist in the field.
The text is quite modular, to the point that certain parts of it might be combined to keep from creating extremely short chapters or sections. This is especially true of several introductory sections. In general, segments are only a few paragraphs in length, with modules easily excerpted for re-use or revised usage. I could definitely see the potential of a teacher taking certain sections and incorporating them into class notes or as a customized resource. But I also see the value of using the entirety of the text as a stand-alone text; I believe the text’s structure enables both uses with little revision or customization necessary.
The text’s organization is not as clear or logical as I would expect. Given that modules or sections can be reordered on demand, this is not a significant drawback. However, I found the default order of modules confusing, shifting between more general, theoretical approaches (like audience analysis and information literacy) and more specific practical approaches (like proposals and progress reports) without a clear rationale for shifting from one to the other. A more logical structure might be to address the general theory in an opening section that includes examples for illustration, then to include a second section to address specific genres and types of technical writing. The structure is not off-putting, but as someone who might consider teaching from this text, I question the rationale behind the logic but am given little explanation.
The text’s interface is clean and clear. Serif fonts are a little unusual in web documents, but the type style used is quite readable online. Table formats don’t always fit on the page, and this requires left/right scrolling to access some of the columns. The text includes few images; most are linked to accessible PDF versions, which are full-screen and easy to read. Embedded videos appear to function as expected; the interface could benefit from a column-width inline viewer that would keep the video window from being narrower than the text columns. This is likely a result of making the interface mobile responsive, and represents what is often a necessary compromise.
Like its prose, the grammar appears to be clean and normalized to American standard English. The tone can be academic, but that is to be expected from a text used in an introductory classroom. I found no grammatical errors.
I did not encounter ethnicity- or gender-specific language in the text. The examples provided represent a number of different document types and genres, generally focused on the professional workplace or the academic environment. However, no text will free itself completely from ideology; I might like to have seen the text more directly address this issue as it relates to business writing. The text could do more to explore cultural contexts in which technical documents are planned, prepared, and consumed, especially given increasing internationalization of workforces. This may reflect an issue with the field — we tend to classify international communication differently from general technical communication — but a section on writing in the global community and for cross-cultural audiences might be useful.
I did not expect to find an open textbook as useful or well-constructed as this is. While its cover and design are unassuming — which, for a text on technical writing, might be a drawback — its content is erudite and targeted to its primary audience and purpose. I would consider using this text in an introductory technical writing class, with the addition of several notable sections identified elsewhere in this review.
The text clearly focuses on research and report writing in a business context. These are appropriately and adequately covered. The table of contents read more
The text clearly focuses on research and report writing in a business context. These are appropriately and adequately covered. The table of contents is detailed and accessible on each page with a link to each section. The chapters lead students through the steps of producing a formal report including research, proposals, citation, and progress reports. There is a useful section on information literacy and conducting research beyond the first items in a Google search. The importance of keeping readers in mind is stressed throughout. In addition to a link to an audience worksheet, there is a clear explanation of how reports might be used by different readers. Chapter 10 includes a link to a wide variety of examples of technical writing. Missing are sections on topics often included in technical writing: instructions, procedures, descriptions and definitions. These could be easily fit into the overall structure of the text although obviously other sources of information would need to be found.
The principles of professional communication are accurately presented. The authors make the useful point in several places that a business, agency, journal etc. will likely have its own preferences for professional communications but that some aspects, such as avoiding plagiarism, doing proper research, are consistent.
The content is up-to-date since there are not apt to be quick changes to the principles of technical writing nor to the precepts of e-mail, texting etc. and their place in business. Any changes could be quickly made. There are links that are specific to or have comments that are specific to COCC that instructors will probably want to point out and substitute their institution’s or their class policy. Examples are the links in 1.3 and 6.2.
The book is clearly written in an informal, conversational tone that should appeal to students. The terminology is basic without down-writing. Any specialized terms are defined. The link in 8.4 to visuals that need revision is probably not useful for most classes. Figures 1 and 2 are very specialized.
The text is consistently organized. There are clear signals that link each section to the main section. The emphasis is on professional communication throughout so chapters are linked through that context. In section 4.1 there is inconsistency in terminology where “academic” and “scholarly” are used interchangeably.
The book is clearly arranged into chapters with clear titles and headings. The table of contents is linked to each section for quick finding. The pages have ample white space and large readable type.
The book is clearly organized around the perspective of researching and writing a final report. The chapters can easily be rearranged according to an instructor’s preference since the table of contents is linked to each section. However, the book is arranged in a logical progression through the different aspects of research and writing the formal report.
The book is posted in 4 different formats which makes it readily accessible to students. There is an important missing link in 9.2. This link in 4.3 is no longer valid: The Research Cycle derived from A Cycle of Revolving Research by UC Libraries, CC: BY-NC-SA 3.0 Otherwise there are no issues.
There are grammatical errors in section 9 as well as confusing switches in point of view. Grammar errors: 9 “Writers . . . she” 9.3 “. . .your employer to pursue and action” and “the groups’ goal” Point of view First, chapters 1-8 and 10 are written in second person. Chapter 9 is written partly in second person, partly in third person. While some references to “the writer” are logical, it inconsistently directly addresses readers or talks about writers in general. Second, there is inconsistency in an attempt to be gender neutral in the third person. In 9 “she” and “he” are used interchangeably. 9.3 uses “her/himself,” “s/he,” and “his/her.”
The examples in the text and references to writers are neutral. There is nothing to identify a particular culture, race or ethnicity.
The book doesn't completely fit the course in technical writing that I teach but I would consider using if it did. However, I do have some problems with Chapter 9, ethics in technical writing, that I would like to see addressed. These are in addition to the grammatical issues. In 9.1 General Principles, the authors give examples of ethical dilemmas that range from trivial to life and death. These do more to complicate the subject than clarify it. Part of this is due to the phrasing about the friend’s haircut, “This lie, though minor, preserves . . .” What is “though” doing in this sentence? It signals a contrast which isn’t there. More of a concern though is the phrasing of the third choice of saving lives. The person might “risk [her life] to save her children” but to save the stranger, she would have to “choose to die.” Risk and certainty are not equal choices. The second paragraph concludes that “If you would . . . lose your job. . . the action is probably unethical” oversimplifies -- one can lose a job for being ethical as well. Section 9.2 includes the Challenger disaster as an example of unethical writing. The missing link is vital here since there are definitely different accounts of the underlying causes beyond the O rings. The authors speculate about possible motives of the engineers with no source information to support their conjectures. They make statements about the priority of information in the engineers' report which imply that they are in a position to make that judgment. I suggest deleting or re-writing this section of the book.
The book appears to be written for a course designed around a specific major project that asks students to write a proposal for a technical report read more
The book appears to be written for a course designed around a specific major project that asks students to write a proposal for a technical report and then to research and write the report itself. Those sections are adequate, but I would like to see more content in general. In particular, I would like information on writing instructions and technical descriptions, as well as the finer points of correspondence writing, like strategies for persuasion, or handling negative news, or emphasizing reader benefits. I would also like to see information on team writing—a must for the modern workplace. The book would also benefit from a section on presentations and a broader section on document design. The current section on design is specific only to reports and is really about organization, not design.
The content is accurate. The book sticks to the basic writing principles which don’t change much over time. I especially appreciate the repeated emphasis on audience and that while particular elements are expected for particular genres, organization and approach can and should be modified to suit the writer’s purpose and the needs of the audience.
The core principles aren’t likely to go out of date any time soon. The limited scope and lack of discussion about the design expectations of the modern audience does make the book feel dated. Although the concept of linking to examples and additional information is an excellent use of this medium, the choice of links could be improved. For example, many of the linked reports are nearly twenty years old, and while they may demonstrate many of the writing principles that stay constant over time, they do not demonstrate contemporary expectations for design, and the topics are so dated as to make them seem irrelevant to most students.
The authors do an excellent job of adhering to plain language principles. The style is clear, simple, and direct. It reads like the authors are speaking directly to the audience.
As mentioned previously, the book reads as though it were designed for a very specific class. It shifts quite a bit between universal advice about writing for a professional audience and specific advice about writing for an instructor. That’s confusing and limits the book’s applicability.
The book is divided into logical sections that would make it easy to customize for a course if not for the problem previously cited of its being designed around a specific course’s project.
Follows a familiar and standard organization for workplace writing textbooks, beginning with basic correspondence and working towards longer and more complex reports.
Some easily correctable issues here: Many widowed headings (which the text advises to avoid). Figures and tables are not always labeled correctly. The visual weight of “Chapter Attribution Information,” which is currently the same as chapter titles, should be reduced. In some chapters, that information is repeated before every section, which adds visual clutter. There are additional problems in the pdf version that make it the pdf only partially usable: Text boxes tend to exceed the width of the page and cannot therefore be read. Everything is rendered as plain text, which means that table formatting is screwy and all images (including images of example documents) are missing. Citations get embedded directly into the text.
Grammar looks fine.
Deals very little with cultural issues, which is surprising given the global ventures of many companies and the increasingly diverse workforce in the US.
The book has the potential to be quite good, but I don't think it’s yet ready to compete with the for-profit options. I look forward to seeing subsequent editions.
The text provides an adequate overview of the field for beginners in technical writing. read more
The text provides an adequate overview of the field for beginners in technical writing.
The content is accurate and straight forward.
The text is up-to-date and covers the range of topics addressed in introductory technical and professional writing courses.
The information is presented effectively in clear, concise language. Provides accurate definitions and many links to examples for easy understanding.
I found no internal inconsistencies.
Text is user-friendly. Effective use of white space. Employ small chunks of text, bullet point lists, and hyperlinks.
Many technical writing textbooks begin with audience analysis. Hamlin, Rubio, and DeSiva begin with common types of professional communication like email and memo format; doing so provides an effective context for beginning writers. The chapters of the book could be easily reorganized to fit user needs and/or preferences.
The text is free of interface issues. Navigation between and within chapters is smooth. Website links opened easily.
Technical Writing contains no grammatical errors.
The text revolves around professional communication. Does not contain offensive or insensitive material or links.
This text seems like a good fit for students in my Technical Writing for Electrical Engineering Technologists course. Practical information, concise presentation.
Table of Contents
1. Professional Communications
- 1.1 Texting
- 1.2 E-mail
- 1.3 Netiquette
- 1.4 Memorandums
- 1.5 Letters
2. Audience Analysis
- 2.1 Types of audiences
- 2.2 Audience analysis
- 2.3 Adapting your writing to meet your audience’s needs
- 3.1 Some preliminaries
- 3.2 Types of proposals
- 3.3 Typical scenarios for the proposal
- 3.4 Common sections in proposals
- 3.5 Special assignment requirements
- 3.6 Proposals and audience
- 3.7 Revision checklist for proposals
4. Information Literacy
- 4.1 Information formats
- 4.2 The information timeline
- 4.3 The research cycle
- 4.4 Research tools
- 4.5 Search strategies
- 4.6 Evaluate sources
5. Citations and Plagiarism
- 5.1 Citations
- 5.2 Plagiarism
6. Progress Reports
- 6.1 Functions and Contents of Progress Reports
- 6.2 Timing and Format of Progress Reports
- 6.3 Organizational Patterns or Sections for Progress Reports
- 6.4 Other Parts of Progress Reports
- 6.5 Revision Checklist for Progress Reports
- 7.1 Creating and using outlines
- 7.2 Developing the rough outline
8. Creating and Integrating Graphics
- 8.1 Deciding which graphics to include
- 8.2 Other considerations: audience
- 8.3 Other considerations: placement and context
- 8.4 Samples
- 8.5 Guidelines for graphics: a final review
9. Ethics in Technical Writing
- 9.1 General Principles
- 9.2 Presentation of information
- 9.3 Typical Ethics Issues in Technical Writing
- 9.4 Ethics and documenting sources
- 9.5 Ethics, Plagiarism, and Reliable Sources
- 9.6 Professional ethics
10. Document Design
- 10.1 Cover letter
- 10.2 Cover page
- 10.3 Abstract and executive summary
- 10.4 Table of contents
- 10.5 List of figures and tables
- 10.6 Introduction
- 10.7 Body of the report
About the Book
This open textbook offers students of technical writing an introduction to the processes and products involved in professional, workplace, and technical writing. The text is broken up into sections reflecting key components of researching, developing, and producing a technical report. Readers will also learn about other professional communication, designing documents, and creating and integrating graphics. Written especially for an academic setting, this book provides readers with guidance on information literacy and documenting sources. This book was collected, adapted, and edited from multiple openly licensed sources.
About the Contributors
Annemarie Hamlin is an Associate Professor of English at Central Oregon Community College.
Chris Rubio is an Assistant Professor at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, OR.