Writing for Your Readers

This is the post for the September 4, 2014 class meeting.

Great work in the forums again yesterday. You’ve made some excellent observations about the bio statements you reviewed, and I think you’re prepared to work on your own drafts.

Class Work for September 4

These are the tasks to complete for today’s work:

  • Read about how to adapt your writing to the needs of your readers (chapter 6 of Markel).
  • Post details on the audience(s) and purpose(s) you have chosen for Project 1.

Important Dates

  • Tuesday, Sept 9 by noon: Project 1 Rough Drafts Due for Peer Feedback
  • Thursday,  Sept 11 by 11:55 PM: Project 1: Professional Biography Statement Due
  • Thursday, Sept 18 by 11:55 PM: Project 1: Professional Biography Statement Deadline (end of grace period)

Writing for Your Readers

Chapter 6 of Markel covers strategies for matching the style, tone, and design in technical writing to the people who will read what you write. This advice will help you with all the projects you work on this term. All of the information is important, but I will highlight three areas that can make a big difference:

  • Choosing Effective Organizational Patterns (pp.107–108)
    Be sure to look through the chart in the book that talks about different ways to set up your writing. You may have noticed that some of the bios you examined use chronological order, but other options could work as well. For example, some of the bios also move from “More important to less important” information. Use the chart on these pages this term to remember the options available.

  • Writing Coherent Titles and Headings (pp.108–111)
    The right title can draw someone into your text, and effective headings can chunk the text into manageable sections that increase understanding as they guide people through what you write. Pay particular attention to the Guidelines on p. 111. As you look at the information think about how some of the examples used these strategies to chunk the details in the bios. The examples from “Meet the Team” Pages: Examples and Trends use the person’s name and title as headings, for instance. You might also arrange your informal bio as a kind of Q&A, with the questions as headings.

  • Using Lists (pp.117–120)
    Like headings, lists can make a remarkable difference in readability. Pay attention to the guidelines in this section for examples that show what lists contribute to a piece of technical writing. You may not use lists at all in your bios (though you can if they make sense for what you are doing). Keep the strategy in mind for future projects.

Post Your Plans for Project 1

Once you have read today’s readings, I want you to turn your attention to your own biography statements by completing these tasks:

  1. Go to the Project 1: Professional Biography Statement board in the forums, and start a new topic. Give the topic your name or your username to help keep things organized. For instance, if I were setting up a new topic, I would name it “Traci’s Bio Statements” or perhaps “Tengrrl’s Bios.”

  2. In your new topic, do the following:
    • Post details on the audience(s) and purpose(s) you have chosen for Project 1.
    • Use headings to separate information on the bios if you are writing more than one.
    • Give us enough summary of your plans to understand what you are going to write about.
    • Note that you can plan big. For instance, if you plan to write two bios but only get one done, that’s okay. You are sharing plans, not signing contracts.
  3. Once you have posted about your plan, read the plans of at least two of your classmates and add a reply with advice and encouragement.
    • Find one post that no other student has replied to (so that we can be sure everyone gets a reply).
    • Find a second post that has only one other student reply.
    • Do not count my replies when you are looking for a post that no student has replied to.
  4. Work on the drafts for your bio statement(s). Tuesday by noon, you will post your drafts in your topic in the forums, and give peer review feedback to two other students by 11:55 PM. Project 1 is due on Tuesday, September 11.