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This Quick Reference guide is intended for first year technical writers at the beginning of their program. If followed successfully, this guide will help the student to remember important ideas and concepts when working on assignment or studying for an exam. Please note that the major terms and ideas in the courses below are not limited to this guide.

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Designing Visual Information

Major Terms

·         White Space: The amount of unused space in a document or other communication.

·         Visual Language: Conveying messages or ideas without the use of words.

·         Persona: The profiling of the intended user/customer.

·         Typography: The font and how well it is integrated into the communication.

Major Ideas

·         Hierarchy: The tiered importance of elements in a communication.

·         Katz: Always bring it to class without fail.

·         Gestalt Principles: Psychological principles which state that people have an innate disposition towards certain imagery and organization. There are five principles at work: Proximity, Similarity, Continuity, Closure, and Connectedness.

Digital Publishing

Major Terms

·         Adobe FrameMaker: The software you will use to design your documents. Amongst other features, FrameMaker enables consistency in formatting, cross-referencing, and page style.

·         Notepad: Your best friend when you need to break text formatting

Major Ideas

·         Removal of Formatting: When copying text, always use notepad to remove any embedded formatting.

Editing I

Major Terms

·         Parallelism: Parallelism is the use of components in a sentence that are grammatically the same; or similar in their construction, sound, or meaning.

·         Subject – Verb Agreement: Ensure that the tense of the very and subject align.

·         Pronouns: A word that substitutes for a noun or noun phrase.

·         Modifiers: A word, phrase, or clause that functions as an adjective or adverb to provide additional information about another word or word group.

Major Ideas

·         Active Voice: Sentences with an action verb, the subject performs the action denoted by the verb.

·         Style Guide(s): A set formatting, grammar, and reference materials. You will need to consistently apply styles to documents you are editing.

·         Collaborative Edit: Working with an editing partner, you will be editing one another’s White Paper using appropriate editing guidelines and a Style Guide.

Information Planning & Management

Major Terms

·         MET/MET Groups: The engineering groups that you will be working with for the rest of the year.

·         GANTT: A chart that identifies major schedule points in a project, along with the length of time for completion.

·         VAC: Value Added Calculation. How much value does a product, service, or idea produce for a situation?

Major Ideas

·         Writing Content Specifications: Converting the technical specifications given to you by the engineers into a more digestible communication.

·         Estimating Resources: A step – by – step elaboration of the resources required for a project.

Selected Topics

Major Terms

·         White Paper: A pre-sales document aimed at potential customers who have not made up their minds to buy a certain product or back a certain technology.

·         Documentation: Manuals, demos, PowerPoint presentations, videos, etc.

Major Ideas

·         Co – op Prep: Write a cover letter and refine your resume to apply to co – op placements.

·         Guest Speakers: Always attend classes with guest speakers. There will often be an assignment attached as well.

Technical Writing I

Major Terms

·         Technical Definition: A breakdown and explanation of the working parts of a product.

·         Purpose Statement: The intent of the document. Why is it being written, and what problems does it address.

Major Ideas

·         Audience Profiling: Understanding the intended audience for your communication.

·         Extended Definition: The simplification and streamlining of concepts or ideas. Intended for the average user.

·         Technical Description: Explains the features of a specific device, like a scientific instrument or computer program.

·         Top – Down Structure: A straightforward, procedural, and logical way of constructing a communication.

Additional Material:

Designing Visual Information

·         Persona Example:

·         Gestalt Design Video:

·         Visual Cognates Video:

Digital Publishing

·         Training videos:

·         Adobe FrameMaker Free Trial:

Editing I

·         Caps & Spelling Game:

·         More Spelling Practice:  

·         Grammar Practice:

Information Planning & Management

·         Content Strategy Maturity Model:

·         TED Talk on Innovation:

·         Disruptive Innovation:

Technical Writing I

·         IEEE Referencing:


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