To: Members of English 202C From: Michelle Kaschak Subject: First Assignment Technical Communication Rhetorical Analysis, or what is technical writing? Technical communication is meant to be used and not just read. Good technical communication communicates information to an audience who will act on that information in a variety of ways: in making hiring decisions, in following technical procedures, in developing research plans, and more. In this assignment, you will evaluate the usability of a piece of technical communication—that is, you will analyze whether the document effectively communicates the necessary information to its audience and where it fails to do so. In this way, the assignment will introduce you to basic elements of technical communication. Your analysis should demonstrate that you understand the basic principles of technical communication discussed in the first chapter of your textbook. The process you will follow in this assignment is relatively straightforward. I will provide you with analysis points based on Markel’s introductory chapter. You will study a document and then determine how well it relies (or doesn’t) on effective technical communication practices. You will then present your analysis in a memo to me. There are three steps to this assignment:

1. Choose a piece of technical communication to analyze. 2. Evaluate your chosen document for usability. This will involve reading the

document carefully, paying attention to the features that enable use. (In other words, how did the author structure the document so that readers could access and use the information effectively and efficiently?) I provide specific points of analysis below.

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3. Write a memo to me that organizes your rhetorical analysis in both a logical and

convincing way. (I am your audience.) Follow the memo format described by Markel in his chapter on writing memos.

a. Be concrete in your analysis. That is, use examples from the document as you make your key points.

b. Be sure to analyze and not just describe the document. This will require you to evaluate—and pass judgment on—both content and design.

c. Be sure your analysis is well organized. I’m looking for a high-quality analysis that shows you can look at a technical document with a critical eye. This should be about three pages in length. Your goal is to fully understand the principles of tech writing and how they are applied to an actual piece of writing. Be ready to discuss your piece and your memo in class.

 

 

Analysis Points Markel offers a set of characteristics for technical communication:

x Addresses a specific audience. x Helps readers solve problems. x Reflects an organization’s goals and culture. x Is produced collaboratively. x Uses design to increase readability. x Has words and graphics. x Is produced using high-tech tools.

Markel also offers Measures of Excellence in Technical Communication.

x Honesty x Clarity x Accuracy x Comprehensiveness x Accessibility x Conciseness x Professional appearance x Correctness

Use these characteristics to organize your analysis. Be sure that your analysis addresses each of these areas. Evaluation Criteria I will evaluate the analyses according to these criteria: – Completeness: The analysis addresses all of Markel’s characteristics of technical

communication. – Organization: The analysis is well organized. It has a clear structure supported by

headings. – Support: The analysis is concrete in that it uses examples from the document to

support major points. – Interpretation: The analysis interprets, analyzes, passes judgment—it does not just

describe. – Style: The analysis is well written. Topic sentences are clear. – Editing: You have minimal to no errors in your document. – AND: The analysis demonstrates that you have learned about the basic elements of

technical communication.

 

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