Technical Communication Today

Richard Johnson-Sheehan  
Total pages
July 2013
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Technical Communication Today
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Technical Communication Todayremains the only text to fully centralize the computer in the technical workplace, presenting how writers use computers throughout their communication process.

Writers use their computers to help them think, research, compose, design, and edit. Not only is Technical Communication Today firmly rooted in core rhetorical principles, but the text also presents computers as thinking tools that powerfully influence how we develop, produce, design, and deliver technical documents and presentations.

Clear instruction not only describes technical documents, but also guides the reader through the activity of producing them. Technical Communication Today helps communicators draft and design documents, prepare material for print and Web publication, and make oral presentations; by bringing computers to the foreground as thinking tools, it accurately reflects the modern day computer-centered technical workplace.

Technical Communication Today speaks to today's students and how they expect to learn information. Instructional narrative is “chunked,” so that readable portions of text are combined with graphics. Not only does this presentation facilitate learning, but it also models the way today’s technical documents should be designed. Additionally, the chunked presentation integrates an awareness of how documents are read–often “raided” by readers seeking the information they need. By mirroring these processes in its content and structure, Technical Communication Today offers a higher level of accessibility for readers.


  • Each chapter places an emphasis on the activity of producing effective documents by following a process approach that mirrors how professionals communicate in the technical workplace and how students learn in the classroom.
  • An open design facilitates learning by presenting material graphically and in accessible chunks of information.
  • The text incorporates the newest technology-driven changes in workplace communication with in-depth discussions of email, instant messaging, working in virtual teams, making Web sites, blogging, podcasting, incorporating digital audio and visuals in documents, using PDAs, and negotiating ethical situations in electronic communication among many other available strategies and tools.
  • Diagrams that illustrate typical outlines of each genre open Chs. 5-11; these “Quickstarts” display basic elements of each major document type for visual learners and include specific, to-the-point guidance to get students writing.
  • Annotated sample documents throughout show students worthwhile examples of workplace writing, usually on topics of intrinsic interest to a variety of student majors.
  • Case studies at the end of each chapter present situations that students might encounter in the workplace and often involve an ethical dilemma. These are designed to demonstrate the personal, social, political, economic, and environmental issues that shape decisions in the technical workplace.
  • Abundant exercises and projects at the end of each chapter gives students opportunities to work individually or in teams and are designed to challenge students with realistic workplace writing assignments.
  • “At Work” boxes in each chapter feature interviews with working professionals about how they communicate in a variety of workplace situations offering students a glimpse of the challenges faced in real world settings.
  • “Help” boxes in every chapter describe how a specific computer application or related strategy can be used to improve the production and presentation of workplace communication.
  • “At a Glance” information boxes serve as study aids and self-check reviews of major topic discussions for the “raiding” reader.
  • “Take Note” call-outs supplement the main text with tips for understanding concepts and are quick asides to readers who desire more information on a subject.
  • “Go to the Net” icons in the margins throughout the book provide links to the text's extensive Companion Website, which is designed to be used side-by-side with the book. Students are able to view more examples, download worksheets, and learn from other communication-related Web sites. The author of the text is an active presence on the Web site and will answer common questions and provide periodic case studies.
  • An extensive Instructor's Manual offers teaching strategies for each chapter. It will be available online and offer additional material for downloading such as slides and Power Point lectures as well as additional suggestions for assignments and projects.
  • The Ebook within MyTechCommLab increases flexibility for students who prefer studying online.
  • New to this Edition

    • A new chapter on Using Web 2.0 in the Technical Workplace discusses how job seekers can use social networking sites to make and advance professional connections as well as how employees can use and contribute to a workplace’s official social networking outlets (Ch. 23).
    • New “Microgenres” demonstrate how elements of broad genres can be applied to narrower rhetorical situations (e.g., a status update is a microgenre of the activity report, as an elevator pitch is a microgenre of a proposal). Each chapter in Part II features a microgenre that includes a description, example, and writing activity to provide students with informal opportunities to play with and stretch genre conventions.
    • Genre chapters have been moved to the front of the text to get students writing earlier in the semester (Part 2).
    • Chapters on Email, Letters, and Memos have been combined to better reflect how email has become more common in the workplace and how letters and memos are increasingly delivered within email messages (Ch. 5).
    • Coverage of doing research, evaluating sources, and writing with sources has been expanded into two chapters to better help students manage and work effectively with information (Chs. 14, 15).
    • New chapters on Using Strategic Planning (Ch. 12) and Developing a Persuasion Strategy (Ch. 13) pull apart the third edition’s Ch. 6 so that each topic is treated discretely and provides expanded instruction.
    • Updated examples throughout offer new discussions of how we use the latest technological tools to invent, plan, collaborate, draft, revise, and deliver technical communication in the workplace. Included are new Help boxes, new end-of-chapter case studies, and new At Work mini-profiles.
    • The chapter on Technical Definitions has been telescoped into the chapter on Technical Descriptions and Specifications as most definitions of technical terms exist not as stand-alone documents but within precise documents such as technical descriptions, patents, specifications, experiments, and field observations (Ch. 6).
    • The new APA guidelines are reflected in Appendix C to give students the most current citation guidance available.