English
3880

Writing for Business and Industry

Fall
2013

 

Audience readings module list

Week 1 (jump to Week 2)

Title: About technical writing

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Readings

About technical writing

Voice
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Title: Audience

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Readings

Audience

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Title: Writing and rhetoric

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Readings

Rhetoric-PWO

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Required information

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“Required information” is any information the reader needs in order to understand the entire document. The required information will be different depending on the level of the reader. In addition to containing all the required information, good technical writing must contain correct information. That is, the document needs to contain information relative to its purpose.

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Grammar

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Making sure your document is grammatically correct is important because it is courteous to the reader. Just as inappropriate clothing can ruin a good job interview, poor grammar and spelling can ruin good technical writing. It is not only distracting, but indicates that you didn’t even take the time to proofread what you wrote.

However, perfect grammar does not mean the content is worthwhile. It is very easy to create an ureadable and unusable document that is perfectly structured grammatically.

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When the author = audience

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"If the purpose of the communication is to record information for the author's use then there is no target audience." In this case, the audience is the author, which is different from being told to record everything in case someone might want to look at it later.

The audience = author brings up the issues of how poorly most people realize how much they'll remember. You write short notes that make perfect sense now....but when you look at them in 4 months, they make no sense. Even writing for the author as audience requires figuring out what the audience will need.

Can you look at class notes from two semesters ago (in a class outside your main interests) and make sense of them now? They were good enough to study for the test then.

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Week 2

Experts and simply written material

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Think about how much written technical (and business) information focuses solely on the expert level. I often think back to my days in the Biology program at ECU. I read my fair share of technical scientific articles that were full of expert jargon that the average person could not understand. The more articles I read, the more I could interpret them. I often thought of the average person reading the articles and the confusion that would be experienced because of the lack of knowledge of scientific writing. The complex topics in most of the papers could be simply communicated to the average person by using terms that they understood. The scientific articles were designed to pass technical knowledge to the fellow scientist that could understand the terminology. A communication of the same article would break down the complex topics into language that the average person could understand.

If written the other way (using lots of definitions and breaking the material down into too-simple and already known stuff) you would loose the expert readers who are the audience for the article.

It is NOT true that you can write for novice and the expert will understand it too. Well, ok, they will, but they will also have a lower comprehension than of a document written for their level. Basically, it's too simple and they start skipping stuff.

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Title: Audience analysis

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Readings

Audience analysis

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Title: Performing an audience analysis

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The short (8 minute and 58 second), instructional YouTube video” PTC 620 - Lecture 4 - Audience Analysis” provides an informative overview of audience analysis – or systems for developing effective materials for different audiences.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7CP8MirztQ

In the video, the speaker identifies different aspects to consider when identifying the audiences for written documents. The speaker also overviews different approaches or strategies for analyzing one’s audience in order to identify that audience’s expectations related to written documentation. The idea is that an effective analysis of one’s audience provides authors with the information needed to produce effective written documents for that audience. (While the focus of the video is written proposals, consider how the ideas covered in the video can be used for almost any written document.)

As you review this video, consider

1. How the ideas presented in the video compare and contrast with concepts of audience we’ve covered in the class readings thus far

2. Which of the approaches to audience analysis covered in the video you consider to be the most effective and why

3. How you might apply the ideas of audience analysis covered in this video in your own professional communication practices

4. How you might apply the ideas covered in the video when drafting your papers for this class

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