Higher Education

The Portable Technical Writer, 1st Edition

  • William Murdick California University of Pennsylvania
  • Jonathan C. Bloemker Compunetix, Inc.
  • ISBN-10: 0395986338  |  ISBN-13: 9780395986332
  • 336 Pages
  • © 2001 | Published
  • College Bookstore Wholesale Price = $59.25



This brief, inexpensive text provides a complete introduction to technical writing in a handy spiral format. The authors establish a fictional telecommunications company as a context for the technical writing tasks taught in the book. In addition to the usual short documents, the book teaches how to design and develop long documents such as manuals and proposals. Professional editing, proofreading, and indexing are presented as part of technical writing.

Table of Contents

I. The Social Contexts for Technical Writing
1. Technical Writing in College
1.1 Technical Writing Defined
1.2 Collaborative Work in College Writing Courses
1.3 Big Project Ideas
1.4 A Writing Process for Big Projects
2. Technical Writing on the Job
2.1 Possibilities for Technical Writers
2.2 A Company Context
2.3 The Technical Writers
2.4 Communicating In-House
2.5 Ethical Concerns for Technical Writers
2.6 Legal Concerns for Technical Writers
2.7 A Theory of Quality
3. Collaborative Writing
3.1 A Writing Process for Long Documents
3.2 The Document Database
3.3 An Object-Oriented Writing Process
3.4 Research
3.5 The Resource Room
3.6 A Writing Process for Short Instructions
II. The Skills of the Technical Writer
4. Rhetoric
4.1 Purpose
4.2 Audience
4.3 Tone
4.4 Point of View
4.5 Content
4.6 Organization
4.7 Methods of Persuasion
4.8 Rhetoric and Cross-Cultural Communication
5. Technical Writing Style
5.1 Clear Style: Sentence-Level Issues
5.2 Clear Style: Word-Level Issues
5.3 Formatting Numbers and Formulas
5.4 Communicating Internationally in IBE Style
5.5 The Promise of Simplified English
5.6 Company Style Guides
6. Tools of the Technical Writer
6.1 Hardware Tools
6.2 Software Tools
6.3 Presentation Tools
7. Visuals
7.1 Generalizations About Visuals
7.2 Visuals That Examine Objects
7.3 Visuals That Show Process
7.4 Visuals That Show Relationships
7.5 Visuals That Symbolize
7.6 Writing Physical Descriptions
III. Technical Documents
8. RFPs and Proposals
8.1 Writing an RFP
8.2 Processing an RFP
8.3 Writing a Proposal
9. Manuals
9.1 Project Planning
9.2 Developing a Full Set of Manuals
9.3 Determining Sections, Page Layout, and Packaging
9.4 Developing Manuals and Guides for the General Public
9.5 Designing Online Documentation
9.6 The Minimalist Approach to Manual Design
10. Testing and Revising
10.1 The Nature of Revision in Technical Writing
10.2 Usability Testing
10.3 Field Testing
11. Editing, Proofreading, and Indexing
11.1 Editing
11.2 Proofreading
11.3 Indexing
IV. Business Documents
12. Marketing Publications
12.1 Principles of Design and Layout
12.2 Flyers, Polybags, and Posters
12.3 Brochures
12.4 Creating Web Sites for Marketing Purposes
13. Letters and Reports
13.1 AMA Letter Format
13.2 Routine Letters
13.3 Report Formats and Organizational Plans
13.4 Routine Short Reports
14. Job Search
14.1 Finding Job Opportunities
14.2 Preparing Your Resume
14.3 Job Search Letters

Meet the Author

Author Bio

William Murdick

William Murdick is Emeritus Professor of English, California University of Pennsylvania. He holds a B.A. in English from SUNY Albany, an M.F.A. in writing from the University of Iowa's Writer's Workshop, and a Ph.D. in English (Rhetoric and Linguistics) from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.William has business experience as co-owner of a computer company and as a consultant who wrote policy-procedure manuals. He is the author of five books: in addition to the two Portable books, he has written two composition books for Jain Publishing (2003 and 2005) and one on word processing (1984). He has also published many technical articles on computer use and scholarly articles, mainly on the teaching of writing.

Jonathan C. Bloemker

Jonathan C. Bloemker is a senior technical writer at Compunetix, Inc., a Pittsburgh-area telecommunications firm. He holds a B.A. in English from California University of Pennsylvania, an M.A. in English from Duquesne University, and a B.S. in computer science from the University of Pittsburgh. Bloemker has extensive experience as a technical communicator for several Pittsburgh area companies. He presently writes documentation for the Government and International Contracts Department at Compunetix.