ASSIGNMENT No. 1
Q.1 What are the standard international communication guideline commonly used
for printed document when designing a site for a professional international audience?
The responsibility of a writer to produce reader-friendly documents extends to layout, design, and organizational elements surrounding the words themselves. If an email or report were simply a wall of undifferentiated text running for several screens or pages, any reader would be daunted by the prospect of having to scale that wall. Fortunately, writers can use document templates that make those design choices for them with established styles so that writing a document becomes a matter of just filling in the blanks; if you work for a company that uses templates for certain documents, of course you will use them also for consistency and your own convenience. Even without templates, however, you can use several techniques to help guide your readers’ eyes across the page or screen to easily find what they’re looking for. Rather than being optional nice-to-haves, such techniques are crucially important to how well your document is received. Almost every document that exists as a standalone unit must have a title that accurately represents its contents in a nutshell. It’s the first thing a reader looks for to understand what a document is all about and should thus be easily found centred at the top of the first page of any small document, and prominently placed on the cover of larger documents. Though some documents represent exceptions to this rule (e.g., business letters lack titles, and many lack subject lines), any document that brings with it the expectation of a title but omits it is like a grotesquely decapitated body; readers just won’t know what to make of it. Even emails and memos have titles in the form of subject lines. In whatever document you find it, a title’s following characteristics make it essential to your reader’s understanding of the whole:
- Topic summary: A title is the most concise summary possible of a topic while still making sense. If you glance at a news website or newspaper, for instance, you can get a reasonably good sense of what’s going on in the world just by reading the headlines because they are titles that, in as few words as possible, summarize the narratives told in the articles that follow.
- Conciseness: Aim for a length in the 2- to 7-word range—something that can be said repeatedly in one short breath. One-word titles are appropriate only for art (e.g., for books, films, songs, albums, etc.), but most other professional documents use a reasonable number of words to give a sense of the topic, albeit streamlined to the point of having no words that don’t absolutely need to be there. In scientific papers, titles can be quite long and carry plenty of detail, though you can expect that their audiences will rarely pronounce the full title.
Headings and subheadings
After the main title of a document, using headings and subheadings as titles for sections and subsections helps guide the reader around a document’s breakdown of topics. Especially in reports, headings and subheadings that stand out in bold typeface flush (or close) to the left margin and follow a consistent numbering system, exactly as you see in this textbook, help a busy reader quickly locate any specific content they seek. Even a routine email that covers a topic in so much detail that it could be internally divided—without being so big that its content should just go into a document attachment—would benefit from bolded headings
If your drafting process follows the guide in this chapter, then you would have already drafted your headings and subheadings (and possibly numbering if necessitated by the size of the document) in your outline. The drafting process of fleshing out that outline may suggest tweaks to those heading and subheading titles. As titles, headings must be properly phrased and capitalized like main titles.
Font selection is an important consideration because it determines how the audience will receive a document. Font involves decisions concerning the style of type, size, and even colour. Consider the following:
Writers considering typeface must choose between two major style categories depending on how they would like to accommodate their reader. Serif fonts like Times New Roman and Garamond have little perpendicular crossline “feet” or “hands” at the ends of letter strokes, as well as variable thickness in the strokes themselves depending on their horizontal/vertical or curving position, which altogether help readers distinguish between similar letters or combinations of letters, such as m and rn, which almost look like the same letter in a non-serif font. Serif fonts are ideal for printed documents, especially those with smallish font sizes such as newspapers. Without serifs, sans-serif fonts like Arial (the one used in this textbook) or Verdana achieve a more clean and modern look, especially on computer screens where serif fonts appear to whither away at the thin part of the stroke and are thus harder to read. In the appropriate format, all the fonts mentioned above make a document look respectable. Comic Sans, on the other hand, is appropriate for documents aimed at children, but undermines the credibility of any professional document, such as when the unfortunate choice to use it when reporting CERN particle physics discoveries became more newsworthy than the discoveries themselves
Size is another important consideration because readers depend on text being an ideal “Goldilocks” size for readability and are frustrated by font sizes that are bigger or smaller than that. In a standard written document, for instance, a 12-point Arial or Times New Roman is the Goldilocks size. If the MS Word default size when you open a blank document is 11-point, it’s worth increasing it for the sake of those who have slight visual impairment.
A choice of colour may also enter into document design considerations, in which case, again, the needs of the reader must be accommodated. Used appropriately, a touch of colour can draw the eye to important text. Colouring your name red at the top of your résumé is effective if few or no other elements in the document are so coloured because your name is essentially the title of your document
Boldface, italics, and underlining
Boldface, italics, and underlining serve various purposes in focusing audience attention on certain words. Boldface type is especially helpful in directing audience eyes towards titles, headings, and keywords as you can see at the beginning of this paragraph and throughout this textbook. Highlighting in this way is especially helpful to anyone who is visually impaired in any degree. Of course, overusing boldface undermines its impact, so it should be used sparingly and strategically.
Single-spaced lines are common to most documents because they accommodate the reader’s need to dart quickly to the next line to continue reading a sentence. The gap between 1.0-spaced lines is just enough to clearly separate one line from another so the hanging elements at the bottom of letters like j and g don’t interfere with the tops of uppercase letters on the line below. Some documents such as academic manuscripts are double-spaced to give readers, who are usually the instructors or teaching assistants grading them, enough space to write comments and editorial marks between the lines. Because doubling the line spacing also doubles the number of pages in a print version, avoid double-spacing documents for audiences who don’t explicitly require it.
Q.2 Ethics has a vital role in technical writing. What ethical points should be considered by a writer in the process of writing a proposal?
In day-to-day life, most people have a sort of sliding scale on what constitutes ethical behavior: they would not tell a direct lie on trivial matters if doing so would hurt someone’s feelings. For example, you might tell your best friend her new haircut looks attractive when in fact you believe that it does not. This lie, though minor, preserves your friend’s feelings and does no harm to her or anyone else. Some might consider the context before determining how to act. For example, you might not tell a stranger that he was trailing toilet paper but you would tell a friend. In a more serious situation, a person might not choose to die to save a stranger’s life, but she might risk dying to save her children’s lives.
Ethical behavior, including ethical technical communication, involves not just telling the truth and providing accurate information, but telling the truth and providing information so that a reasonable audience knows the truth. It also means that you act to prevent actual harm, with set criteria for what kinds and degrees of harm are more serious than others (for example, someone’s life outweighs financial damage to your company; your company’s success outweighs your own irritation). As a guideline, ask yourself what would happen if your action (or non-action) became public. If you would go to prison, lose your friends, lose your job, or even just feel really embarrassed, the action is probably unethical.
Typical Ethics Issues in Technical Writing:
There are a few issues that may come up when researching a topic for the business or technical world that a writer must consider.
Research that does not support the project idea
In a technical report that contains research, a writer might discover conflicting data which does not support the projects’ goal. For example, your small company continues to have problems with employee morale. Research shows bringing in an outside expert, someone who is unfamiliar with the company and the stakeholders, has the potential to impact the greatest change. You discover, however, that to bring in such an expert is cost prohibitive. You struggle with whether to leave this information out of your report, thereby encouraging your employer to pursue and action that is really not feasible.
Suppressing relevant information
Imagine you are researching a report for a parents’ group that wants to change the policy in the local school district requiring all students to be vaccinated. You collect a handful of sources that support the group’s goal, but then you discover medical evidence that indicates vaccines do more good than potential harm in society. Since you are employed by this parents’ group, should you leave out the medical evidence, or do you have a responsibility to include all research, even some that might sabotage the groups’ goal.
Limited source information in research
Thorough research requires that a writer integrates information from a variety of reliable sources. These sources should demonstrate that the writer has examined the topic from as many angles as possible. This includes scholarly and professional research, not just from a single database or journal, for instance, but from a variety. Using a variety of sources helps the writer avoid potential bias that can occur from relying on only a few experts. If you were writing a report on the real estate market in Central Oregon, you would not collect data from only one broker’s office. While this office might have access to broader data on the real estate market, as a writer you run the risk of looking biased if you only chose materials from this one source. Collecting information from multiple brokers would demonstrate thorough and unbiased research. Unlike personal or academic writing, technical and professional writing can be used to evaluate your job performance and can have implications that a writer may or may not have considered. Whether you are writing for colleagues within your workplace or outside vendors or customers, you will want to build a solid, well-earned favorable reputation for yourself with your writing. Your goal is to maintain and enhance your credibility, and that of your organization, at all times.
Quoting the work of others in your writing is fine, provided that you credit the source fully enough that your readers can find it on their own. If you fail to take careful notes, or the sentence is present in your writing but later fails to get accurate attribution, it can have a negative impact on you and your organization. That is why it is important that when you find an element you would like to incorporate in your document, in the same moment as you copy and paste or make a note of it in your research file, you need to note the source in a complete enough form to find it again.
Giving credit where credit is due will build your credibility and enhance your document. Moreover, when your writing is authentically yours, your audience will catch your enthusiasm, and you will feel more confident in the material you produce. Just as you have a responsibility in business to be honest in selling your product of service and avoid cheating your customers, so you have a responsibility in business writing to be honest in presenting your idea, and the ideas of others, and to avoid cheating your readers with plagiarized material.
Q.3 What are the key differences between formal and informal reports in technical writing. Give relevant examples.
Informal reports are typically internal reports, and can go to other members of the department and department heads. They are also used for reports that will circulate throughout the company. They use personal pronouns and contractions. Though the report may be several sections long, it is typically much shorter than a formal report. No contents page is included. Informal reports can even be formatted like a memo.
Your introduction and conclusion are included in the body of the report, and there is no abstract. Include very short headings, if necessary. In the introduction, briefly state the problem, what you have done and your final conclusion. You have a target audience, so speak directly to them in your discussion. State the facts and do not embellish the details, but make sure the report is understandable. Remind the reader what your conclusions were. Your report will be right-justified with a 10- to 12-point font. Include your recommendations and the progress you have made toward solving the problem. Be positive about the expectations and recommendations.
If you are writing a report for upper management or for another organization, you will need a formal report. Formal reports are also used for research papers in higher education. Formal reports are longer and well researched. Formal reports are impersonal, rarely using personal pronouns and contractions. Summaries are located on separate pages and usually have more than one heading. Formal reports may also be preceded by a proposal. Include a contents page if your report is more than five pages long. A cover letter or memo may be required.
Include a cover page that is resembles a book cover. The abstract briefly summarizes the problem, the process of research and final conclusions in one page or less. Your title page will cover the title of the report, the person who compiled the report, the publisher and submission date. Summarize your initial thesis or the purpose of the study, and include all the details that are necessary for your audience to completely understand the question. Include a table of contents and a list of tables and figures. The body of your report will include an introduction, overview of the research and final conclusions and recommendations. End your report with acknowledgements, a list of references where you located your research and any appendices.
Q.4 define memos and describe the major components of memos. Write a memo to inform the authorities about the problem faced by AIOU Computer Centre in the installation of new equipment in the Centre.
A memo (or memorandum, meaning “reminder”) is normally used for communicating policies, procedures, or related official business within an organization. It is often written from a one-to-all perspective (like mass communication), broadcasting a message to an audience, rather than a one-on-one, interpersonal communication. It may also be used to update a team on activities for a given project, or to inform a specific group within a company of an event, action, or observance.
A memo’s purpose is often to inform, but it occasionally includes an element of persuasion or a call to action. All organizations have informal and formal communication networks. The unofficial, informal communication network within an organization is often called the grapevine, and it is often characterized by rumour, gossip, and innuendo. On the grapevine, one person may hear that someone else is going to be laid off and start passing the news around. Rumours change and transform as they are passed from person to person, and before you know it, the word is that they are shutting down your entire department.
Tasks and Resolutions
If the purpose of your memo is to explain the tasks that you will be performing in response to the context, you can say so in the next part of the memo. For example, you can say, “I will be looking into the market research for technology …” This gives the reader an idea of the next steps you are taking.
Supporting Research and Ideas
Some memos call for the inclusion of details. If you need to include statistics, data or market research information, provide these details in a new paragraph. For example, if you were writing about technology market research, you’d might include statistics on customer demand and sales of competitors along with key statistics about the industry. These supporting ideas are known as the discussion portion of the memo.
Conclusion and Further Discussion
Wrap up your memo with a brief conclusion that tells the reader what you hope he gained from reading it. The closing segment should also let the reader know that you welcome questions or comments for discussion. For example, you might encourage the reader to email or call you if they have ideas about potential technological solutions for the company. You could also inform them about a future business meeting on the topic you have planned.
Documents and Other Attachments
If you refer to graphs, charts, policies, reports, minutes or other business documents in your memo, attach them to the back of the memo. For example, you might have a table showing the costs and potential benefits of new technology or a white paper about the innovation. Include on the memo page a note at the bottom that one or more documents is attached.
Q.5 Create a list of five to eight questions about a topic you want to research for each question, indicate the kind of a resource you need (boom, recent article and website).
- How communication skills enhance the career?
- Which type of skills is necessary for human being?
- Which problem faced by the students in listening comprehension while teaching English?
- How can we identify the basic problems faced by the students at graduation level while acquiring English as a second language?
- What are the basic obstacles faced by undergraduate students while learning English language?
- How the students, studying at graduation level can cross the barriers in communication while learning English as second language?
- Why the undergraduate students face embarrassment while communicating in second language?