Strategies for Technical Communication in the Workplace -- Revel Access Code

Laura J. Gurak / John M. Lannon  
March 2018
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Strategies for Technical Communication in the Workplace -- Revel Access Code
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Revel™ is Pearson’s newest way of delivering our respected content. Fully digital and highly engaging, Revel replaces the textbook and gives students everything they need for the course. Informed by extensive research on how people read, think, and learn, Revel is an interactive learning environment that enables students to read, practice, and study in one continuous experience — for less than the cost of a traditional textbook.

For introductory courses in Technical Communication.

Drawn from the strengths of their acclaimed Technical Communication, Gurak and Lannon’s Revel™ Strategies for Technical Communication in the Workplace helps professionals in all fields adapt their communication strategies as they navigate the global marketplace. This innovative book offers a clear and concise writing style, practical applications, numerous sample documents, coverage of technology and global issues, and many useful checklists to prepare for any situation.

The 4th Edition maintains its focus on audience and purpose, while offering many new features — particularly updated discussions and examples of digital communication technologies. And with a fresh new look and brief format, it’s sure to appeal to students of all writing levels.


Hallmark features of this title

  • Organized around 5 essential questions: What needs to be done? What should it look like? How do I do it? What should be avoided? And how well have I done it?
  • Content highlights technical communication as a social transaction involving individuals, teams, companies, and global organizations.
  • Focused on audience and purpose, students will research, summarize and customize information to meet different situations.
  • Students begin by “doing,” first using prior knowledge to draft each chapter’s featured document; then applying new knowledge to refine their draft.
  • Key strategies are summarized in boxes that provide additional pointers for approaching each communication situation and end-of-chapter checklists summarize content and guide self-assessment of drafts.
  • Free download: The Pearson Guide to the 2021 MLA Handbook.

New to this Edition

New and updated features of this title

Provide complete, yet streamlined, coverage

  • UPDATED: Brief but thorough, this concise text includes up-to-date coverage of writing for the Web, text messages, social networks, and online videos, as well as the more traditional letters, memos, proposals, formal reports, and oral presentations.
  • NEW: Updated discussions and examples of digital communication technologies are provided throughout, including topics such as “universal design” of Web pages, a new section on fairness considerations in Web-based communication, personal vs, workplace use of social media, using Instagram on the job, and the legal issues surrounding social media at work.

Emphasize modeling and practice

  • UPDATED: Model documents throughout have been revised or updated. They are accessible, engaging, easy to emulate, and often fully annotated.
  • NEW: Learning Objectives, at the outset of each chapter, are now tied indirectly to the major sections of the chapter.
  • UPDATED: Chapter-ending applications exercises, many of them new, fall into 4 categories: General Applications (for individual practice), Team Applications (for pair or group practice), Global Applications (for highlighting global issues in workplace communication), and Computer/Web-based Applications (for highlighting uses of technology in workplace communication).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


  1. Technical Communication: Global, Collaborative, and Digital
    • What is Technical Communication?
    • Main Features of Technical Communication
      • Focus is on the Reader, Not the Writer
      • Document Design is Efficient and Accessible
      • Writing Style is Clear and Relevant
      • Information is Persuasive, Truthful, and Based on Research
    • Three Primary Purposes of Technical Communication
      • Informational Purpose
      • Instructional Purpose
      • Persuasive Purpose
    • Common Types of Technical Documents
    • Technical Communication is Global, Collaborative, and Digital
      • Technical Communication is Global
    • STRATEGIES for Global Technical Communication
      • Technical Communication is Collaborative
    • STRATEGIES for Organizing a Team Project
      • Running Successful Meetings
      • Identifying and Managing Group Conflicts
    • STRATEGIES for Running a Meeting
    • STRATEGIES for Managing Team Conflicts
      • Reviewing and Editing the Work of Others
    • STRATEGIES for Peer Review and Editing
      • Technical Communication is Digital
    • CHECKLIST for Effective Technical Communication
  2. The Research Process in Technical Communication
    • Thinking Critically about Research
    • STRATEGIES for Thinking Critically about Research
    • Primary versus Secondary Sources
    • Exploring Secondary Sources
      • How to Locate Secondary Sources
      • Types of Secondary Sources
    • STRATEGIES for Finding Credible, Reliable Secondary Sources
    • Exploring Primary Sources
      • Unsolicited Inquiries
      • Informational Interviews
    • STRATEGIES for Informational Interviews
      • Surveys
    • STRATEGIES for Surveys
      • Observations and Experiments
    • CHECKLIST for Doing Research
  3. Providing Audiences with Usable Information
    • Analyze the Document’s Audience
      • Primary and Secondary Audiences
      • Relationship with Audience
      • Audience’s Technical Background
      • Audience’s Cultural Background
    • STRATEGIES for Analyzing Your Audience
    • Determine the Document’s Purpose
      • Primary and Secondary Purposes
      • Intended Use of the Document
    • Know How to Be Persuasive
      • Using Claims as a Basis for Persuasion
      • Connecting with Your Audience
    • STRATEGIES for Persuasion
    • Create a Task Analysis for the Document
    • Consider Other Related Usability Factors
      • Setting
      • Potential Problems
      • Length
      • Format
      • Timing
      • Budget
    • Develop an Information Plan for the Document
    • Write, Test, Revise, and Proofread the Document
    • STRATEGIES for Proofreading
    • CHECKLIST for Usability
  4. Recognizing Ethical Issues in Technical Communication
    • Ethics, Technology, and Communication
    • Types of Ethical Choices
    • How Workplace Pressures Affect Ethical Values
    • Recognizing and Avoiding Ethical Abuses
    • STRATEGIES for Avoiding Ethical Abuses
    • CHECKLIST for Ethical Communication


  1. Structuring Information for Your Readers
    • The Importance of an Understandable Structure
    • Outlining
    • Chunking
    • STRATEGIES for Outlining
    • Sequencing
    • Paragraphing
      • The Topic Sentence
      • Paragraph Unity
      • Paragraph Coherence
    • Clarifying Headings
    • Providing an Overview
    • CHECKLIST for Structuring Information
  2. Writing with a Readable Style
    • The Importance of a Readable Style
    • Writing Clearly
      • Avoiding Ambiguous Pronoun References
      • Avoiding Ambiguous Modifiers
      • Using Active Voice Whenever Possible
      • Using Passive Voice Selectively
      • Avoiding Nominalizations
      • Unstack Modifying Nouns
      • Avoiding Unnecessary Jargon
    • Writing Concisely
      • Avoiding Wordiness
      • Eliminating Redundancy and Repetition
    • Writing Fluently
      • Combining Related Ideas
      • Varying Sentence Construction and Length
      • Using Parallel Structure
    • Writing Personably
      • Adjusting Your Tone
    • STRATEGIES for Deciding about Tone
      • Avoiding Biased Language
    • STRATEGIES for Unbiased Usage
    • CHECKLIST for Style
  3. Using Audience-Centered Visuals
    • The Importance of Using Audience-Centered Visuals
    • When to Use Visuals
      • Using Visuals to Support Text
      • Using Visuals on Their Own
    • Types of Visuals
    • Tables
    • STRATEGIES for Creating Tables
      • Graphs
    • STRATEGIES for Creating Graphs
      • Charts
    • STRATEGIES for Creating Charts
      • Illustrations and Diagrams
      • Photographs
      • Videos
      • Icons and Symbols
    • STRATEGIES for Illustrations, Diagrams, Photographs, Videos, Icons, and Symbols
    • Special Considerations When Using Visuals
      • Selecting Appropriate Visuals
      • Placing, Cross-Referencing, and Presenting Visuals
      • Using Color in Visuals
      • Using Visuals Fairly and Accurately
    • CHECKLIST for Using Audience-Centered Visuals
  4. Designing User-Friendly Documents
    • The Importance of User-Friendly Document Design
    • Characteristics of Well-Designed Documents
    • Specific Design Elements
      • Designing for Consistency and Cohesiveness
    • STRATEGIES for Designing: Consistency and Cohesiveness
      • Designing for Navigation and Emphasis
    • STRATEGIES for Designing: Navigation and Emphasis
    • CHECKLIST for Document Design


  1. Résumés and Other Employment Materials
    • Assessing Your Skills and Aptitudes
    • Researching the Job Market
      • Engage in Active Networking
    • Résumés
      • Parts of a Résumé
      • Organizing Your Résumé
    • STRATEGIES for Creating a Résumé
    • Application Letters
      • Solicited Application Letters
      • Unsolicited Application Letters
    • STRATEGIES for Application Letters
    • Digital versus Print Job Application Materials
    • STRATEGIES for Digital Job Application Materials
    • Dossiers, Portfolios, and E-portfolios
      • Dossiers
      • Portfolios and E-portfolios
    • STRATEGIES for Dossiers, Portfolios, and E-portfolios
    • Interviews and Follow-up Letters
      • Interviews
      • Follow-up Communication
    • STRATEGIES for Interviews and Follow-up Notes
    • CHECKLIST for Résumés
    • CHECKLIST for Job Application Letters
    • CHECKLIST for Supporting Materials
  2. Memos and Letters
    • Memo Basics, Parts, and Format
      • Parts and Format of Memos
    • Memo Tone
    • Types of Memos
      • Transmittal Memo
      • Summary or Follow-up Memo
      • Informational Memo
    • STRATEGIES for Memos
    • Letter Basics, Parts, and Format
      • Letter Parts and Formats
    • Letter Tone
      • Establishing and Maintaining a “You” Perspective
      • Being Polite and Tactful
      • Using Plain English
      • Considering the Needs of International Readers
      • Being Direct or Indirect
    • STRATEGIES for Letters in General
    • Types of Letters
      • Inquiry Letters
    • STRATEGIES for Inquiry Letters
      • Claim Letters
    • STRATEGIES for Claim Letters
      • Sales Letters
    • STRATEGIES for Sales Letters
      • Adjustment Letters
    • STRATEGIES for Adjustment Letters
    • CHECKLIST for Memos and Letters
  3. Definitions
    • Audience and Purpose of Definitions
    • Legal, Safety, and Societal Implications of Definitions
    • Types of Definitions
      • Parenthetical Definitions
      • Sentence Definitions
      • Expanded Definitions
    • Methods for Expanding Definitions
      • Etymology
      • History
      • Negation
      • Operating Principle
      • Analysis of Parts
      • Visuals
      • Comparison and Contrast
      • Required Conditions
      • Examples
      • Using Multiple Expansion Methods
    • Placement of Definitions
    • STRATEGIES for Definitions
    • CHECKLIST for Definitions
  4. Descriptions
    • Audience and Purpose of Descriptions
    • Objectivity in Descriptions
    • Elements of Descriptions
      • Title
      • Introduction
      • Sequence of Topics
      • Visuals
      • Conclusion
    • Product and Process Descriptions
    • A Complex Product Description
    • A Complex Process Description
    • STRATEGIES for Descriptions
    • Specifications
    • STRATEGIES for Specifications
    • CHECKLIST for Descriptions and Specifications
  5. Instructions and Procedures
    • Audience and Purpose of Instructions
    • Types of Instructional Formats
      • User Manuals
      • Quick Reference Materials
      • Assembly Guides
      • Web-based Instructions
      • Online Instructions
    • Safety and Legal Implications
    • Elements of Effective Instructions
      • Title
      • Overview or Introduction
      • Body
      • Conclusion
      • Visuals
      • Notes, Cautions, Warnings, and Danger Notices
    • Content, Style, and Design Considerations
      • Detail and Technicality
      • Style
      • Design
    • STRATEGIES for Readable Instructions
    • STRATEGIES for Accessible Instructions
    • Procedures
      • Audience and Purpose Considerations
      • Types of Procedures
    • Conducting a Usability Survey
    • STRATEGIES for Instructions and Procedures
    • CHECKLIST for Instructions and Procedures
  6. Summaries
    • Audience and Purpose of Summaries
    • Elements of Effective Summaries
      • Accuracy
      • Completeness
      • Conciseness
      • Nontechnical Style
    • Writing Summaries Step by Step
      • Step 1: Read the Original Document
      • Step 2: Reread and Mark Essential Material
      • Step 3: Cut and Paste the Key Information
      • Step 4: Redraft the Information into Your Own Organizational Pattern and Words
      • Step 5: Edit Your Draft
      • Step 6: Compare Your Version with the Original Document
    • Special Types of Summaries
      • Closing Summaries
      • Informative Abstracts
      • Descriptive Abstracts
      • Executive Summaries
    • Summarizing Information for Social Media
    • STRATEGIES for Summaries
    • CHECKLIST for Summaries
  7. Informal Reports
    • Two Categories of Reports: Informational and Analytical
    • Types of Informational Reports
      • Progress Reports
    • STRATEGIES for Progress Reports
      • Periodic Activity Reports
      • Trip Reports
    • STRATEGIES for Periodic Activity Reports
    • STRATEGIES for Trip Reports
      • Meeting Minutes
    • STRATEGIES for Meeting Minutes
    • Types of Analytical Reports
      • Feasibility Reports
    • STRATEGIES for Feasibility Reports
      • Recommendation Reports
    • STRATEGIES for Recommendation Reports
      • Peer Review Reports
    • STRATEGIES for Peer Review Reports
    • CHECKLIST for Informal Reports
  8. Formal Reports
    • Audience and Purpose of Formal Reports
      • Comparative Analysis
      • Causal Analysis
      • Feasibility Analysis
    • Elements of Effective Formal Reports
      • Accurate, Appropriate, and Clearly Interpreted Data
      • Clearly Identified Purpose Statement
      • Understandable Structure
      • Readable Style
      • Audience-centered Visuals
      • User-friendly Design
    • Parts of Formal Reports
      • Letter of Transmittal
      • Front Matter
      • Text of the Report
      • End Matter
    • STRATEGIES for Formal Reports
      • A Sample Formal Report
    • CHECKLIST for Formal Reports
  9. Proposals
    • Audience and Purpose of Proposals
    • Types of Proposals
      • Planning Proposals
      • Research Proposals
      • Sales Proposals
    • Organization of Informal and Formal Proposals
      • Clear Title or Subject Line
      • Background Information
      • Statement of Problem or Situation
      • Description of Solution or Resolution
      • Costs, Timing, and Qualifications
      • Conclusion
    • STRATEGIES for Proposals
      • A Sample Formal Proposal
    • CHECKLIST for Proposals


  1. Email
    • Workplace Email
      • Audience and Purpose of Email
      • Components and Organization of Email
    • Types of Workplace Email
    • STRATEGIES for Choosing and Using Email
    • Appropriate Style for Workplace Email
    • STRATEGIES for Email Style and Tone in the Workplace
    • Copyright and Privacy in Digital Communication
    • CHECKLIST for Email
  2. Blogs, Wikis, and Web Pages
    • Blogs
      • Internal Blogs
      • External Blogs
    • Wikis
      • Internal Wikis
      • External Wikis
    • Web Pages
    • Audience and Purpose of Web Pages
    • Elements of Effective Web Pages
      • Structure
      • Style
      • Visuals
      • Design
    • Web Page Credibility and Privacy Issues
    • STRATEGIES for Blogs, Wikis, and Web Pages
    • CHECKLIST for Blogs, Wikis, and Web Pages
  3. Social Media
    • Considering Audience and Purpose
      • Audience as Contributor
      • Personal versus Workplace Uses of Social Media
    • Social Media in Technical and Workplace Communication
      • Customer Review Sites
      • Facebook
      • Google+
      • Instagram
      • LinkedIn and Other Job Sites
      • Twitter
      • YouTube
      • Other Popular Social Media Sites
    • Credibilty and Legal Issues
    • STRATEGIES for Social Media
    • CHECKLIST for Social Media
  4. Oral Presentations and Video Conferencing
    • Audience and Purpose of Oral Presentations
    • Types of Oral Presentations
      • Informative Presentations
      • Training Presentations
      • Persuasive Presentations
      • Action Plan Presentations
    • Sales Presentations
    • Parts of Oral Presentations
      • Introduction
    • Body
      • Conclusion
    • Preparing Oral Presentations
      • Research and Connect the Topic to Your Audience
      • Create an Outline or Storyboard
      • Determine a Delivery Style
      • Choose Your Technology
      • Plan the Use of Visuals
    • STRATEGIES for Preparing Oral Presentations
      • Practice the Presentation
    • Using Presentation Software
    • Video Conferencing
    • STRATEGIES for Using Presentation Software and Video Conferencing
    • Delivering Oral Presentations
    • STRATEGIES for Delivering Oral Presentations
    • CHECKLIST for Oral Presentations

Appendix A: Documenting Sources

  • What Is Plagiarism?
  • Identifying Sources and Information to be Documented
  • Taking Effective and Accurate Notes
  • STRATEGIES for Taking Notes
  • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing Properly
    • Quoting the Work of Others
  • STRATEGIES for Quoting the Work of Others
    • Paraphrasing the Work of Others
  • STRATEGIES for Paraphrasing the Work of Others
    • Summarizing the Work of Others
  • STRATEGIES for Summarizing the Work of Others
  • Documentation: The Key to Avoiding Plagiarism
    • Why You Should Document
    • What You Should Document
    • How You Should Document
  • MLA Documentation Style
    • MLA Parenthetical References
    • MLA Works Cited Entries
  • APA Documentation Style
    • APA Parenthetical References
    • APA Reference Entries
  • Other Documentation Styles
  • Recognizing Copyright Issues
    • Works in the Public Domain
    • Fair Use
    • The Difference between Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement

Appendix B: A Brief Handbook

  • Grammar
    • Sentence Fragments
    • Run-on Sentences
    • Comma Splices
    • Faulty Agreement–Subject and Verb
    • Faulty Agreement–Pronoun and Referent
    • Faulty Coordination and Subordination
    • Faulty Pronoun Case
  • Punctuation
    • Period
    • Question Mark
    • Exclamation Point
    • Semicolon
    • Colon
    • Comma
    • Apostrophe
    • Quotation Marks
    • Ellipses
    • Brackets
    • Italics
    • Parentheses
    • Dashes
  • Mechanics
    • Abbreviation
    • Hyphenation
    • Capitalization
    • Numbers and Numerals
    • Spelling
  • Usage
  • Transitions
    • Use Transitional Expressions
    • Repeat Key Words and Phrases
    • Use Forecasting Statements
  • Lists
    • Embedded Lists
    • Vertical Lists

Works Cited




About our authors

Laura J. Gurak is professor and founding chair of the Department of Writing Studies at the University of Minnesota, where she teaches courses in technical writing and digital communication. She holds an MS in technical communication and a PhD in communication and rhetoric from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She is the author of 2 books from Yale University Press, one of which was the first book-length study of online social actions. Gurak is also coeditor of several edited collections and author on numerous conference presentations and papers. She is a recipient of the Society for Technical Communication’s Outstanding Article award. Gurak has authored and coauthored 5 textbooks in technical communication, published by Pearson. She has worked as a software developer, technical writer and communications consultant for various companies and organizations.

John Lannon is Professor Emeritus and former Director of Writing at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, where he developed the undergraduate major in professional writing and later codeveloped the MA program in professional writing. He has also taught at Cape Cod Community College, University of Idaho, Southern Vermont College and University of Strasbourg. He has authored and coauthored 5 major textbooks in business communication, rhetoric and technical communication; book reviews; filmstrips; environmental documents and instructional software. He is the recipient of a NDEA Fellowship and Fulbright Lectureship. He holds a BS, MA and PhD from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His initial training and work were in biomedical science and technology with the USAF. He has also served as a communications consultant for various companies and government institutions.