Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tips About Technical Writing by Evan Grant

Technical writing is used in many different ways to help an individual solve a problem. Different forms of technical writing include proposals, manuals, web pages, lab reports and many other professional documents. Technical comes from the Greek word techne, which means skill.

First, establish what kind of documents you plan to create. Some examples include: product descriptions, installation guides, configuration guides, maintenance procedures, online help, error messages, notifications, tooltips. When you are writing tooltips, notifications, or error messages, be clear, concise, and grammatically correct, keeping the format consistent. Finally, decide whether the document will be provided on paper, CD or integrated with the software.

While writing your document, make a list of glossary terms. Research these terms to create your definitions. When your draft is complete, use the spell check and review your work from cover to cover. Send your document to a subject matter expert to review the accuracy of your work. Once your document is in its final stages, ask a friend who has limited knowledge of the subject to review it, ensuring that it is understandable to the average person.

"The Technical Writing Process." Technical Writing Tips for Technical Writers and Managers of Writers. 04 Apr. 2009

"Technical Writing: What is It?" Dennis G. Jerz. 04 Apr. 2009

Friday, April 3, 2009

Informal Reports: When To Use Each One by Andrew Kam

Informal reports have become an everyday facet in our life in the working environment. Whether it is to write a review about your colleague, or to write a memo to the boss updating the progress of a project; determining which type of informal to write will ease communication between organizational layers and smoothen the operation process. In this post, I will explain to you what are the different kinds of informal reports you can write for different circumstances to prevent any confusion!

Trouble Report
Trouble reports are incidents involving personal injuries, accidents, and work stoppages (those caused by equipment failures, worker illnesses) occurring in many industrial and construction settings. The trouble report or also known as the accident report is usually a memo written by the person in charge of the site where the incident occurred because they would have direct insight into the accident.

Investigative Report
Investigative reports are often written in response to a request for information. For example, you might be asked to find the best hotel rates for executives in your company and you will need to conduct a thorough research on the price, location and availability of the hotels. These reports are often prepared as memos if written within an organization and in a letter format if written to outside consultants.

Progress Reports
The purpose of a progress report is to keep management or a client informed of the status of a project. Often, it will include recommendations for changes in procedure or will propose new courses of action. Progress reports are generally prepared when a particular stage of a project is reached. More complicated projects will require more progress reports to keep management abreast of the issues at hand. Every report should end with some conclusion or recommendation.

Periodic Reports
Periodic reports are issued at regular intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually) where employess routinely submit status reports to their supervisors about their ongoing projects. Quarterly and annual reports are usually presented as formal reports. Most other reports are seldom longer than 2 pages. Because the report is written to someone completely familiar with the background details of the projects discussed, the writer can use abbreviated narratives in the letter.

Trip Reports
Trip reports are written by employees of a firm to record their trip activities and provide a permanent record of a business trip. The purpose of this report is to pen down the accomplishments of the trip and also enables employees to benefit from the information that one employee has gained. It is normally written as a memo or an email message and addressed to the immediate supervisor.

Test Reports
Test reports are also called laboratory reports. These are reports on experiments conducted in a laboratory, where researchers write these test reports as part of their work. When writing such a report, accuracy of information is crucial to the reader. Findings need to be stated in clear and straight-forward language. The use of graphs and illustrations are also generally recommended because it will help the readers understand the material. One important to note also is that because a test report is meant to have an objective view, it is better to write in a passive voice, rather than an active voice. A memo format will be used to internal communication and a letter format for outside readers.

Now you know which kind of report to write for each situation, you can have the confidence that you will never have another misstep in writing an informal report!

Oliu, Walter E., Charles T. Brusaw, and Gerald J. Alred. Writing That Works: Communicating Effectively on the Job. 9th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin's.

How To Resign Professionally from a Job

When placed in a situation where you choose to resign from a job the one rule that you always want to stand by is to leave on good terms. You NEVER want to leave on bad terms unless it is unavoidable. What should you do once you have decided to take a job with another employer?

The first thing you should do is write a letter of resignation for your employer. Having this written document allows you to follow and have a set date and responsibilities which you will follow before leaving the company for good. In you letter make sure to include:

  • Positive memories and information from your time spent at the company, you always want to leave on good terms.

  • The intention of quitting the job, give a specific last day of work.

  • Give a reason why you are leaving

  • Make sure to thank your manager, as well as the corporation leaders for the opportunity and experience.

When relocated at the new job, make sure to send a note to the prior employer with all up to date contact information if for new job search contacts.

When thinking about resigning make sure to think of these questions and issues that may arise:

  • Timing: Give enough notice to your employer before leaving. The normal time is between 2-4 weeks.

  • Settlement: Try to talk to your employer and make a deal to collect all outstanding salary, vacation/sick days and commission payments meant for you.

  • Hiring: Offer to help find your new replacement

  • Training: Help the new replacement by teaching them all aspects and skills needed in the position.

  • Make sure to arrive still on time for work, complete all assignments in the up most professional manner, and finish all jobs assigned to you before leaving the company.

Remember, no matter what always leave on a good note!


Randall S. Hansen. Resigning with Class. Retrieved April 2nd 2009, from Quint Careers. Website:

Randall S. Hansen. Job Resignation Do's and Dont's. Retrieved April 2nd 2009, from Quint Careers. Website:

Monday, March 30, 2009

Creating Visuals in Professional Writing by Matt O'Shaughnessy

Clients and readers today expect to see professional graphics in professional documents. This may seem like extra work but this can easily be accomplished and can really spruce up your writing. A picture really is worth a thousand words!!! There are some rules and guidelines that should be followed and your graphics should make your document look nice and smooth.

Graphics make concepts easier to understand.
Color, fonts, and graphics can help the reader comprehend an idea.
Graphics support and emphasize ideas.
Graphics generate interest and attract attention.
Graphics are important and powerful when integrated with text.

There are thousands of different fonts out there today, however some are not suitable to be used in a professional document. With todays computers it is easy to view your work in all the different fonts so hopefully if you follow these simple guidelines you will pick a great font that will make your document stand out but at the same time look professional.
Find out what the reader or company wants or expects.
Consider what will be clear and readable.
Take into account the available space.
Think about the purpose of the document.
Consider the tone you want to use.

Color is expected by today's readers, but it is more expensive and can not always be justified. Take into account the following guidelines when deciding to use color:
Colors should relate to the topic in appropriate ways.
Colors should enhance the company logo.
Dark or textured backgrounds should be used sparingly.
All colors should be tested as to what they will look like when produced in the final report form.

You should observe these guidelines when using any graphic:
Know the purpose of the graphic.
Check to see that the data are correct.
Always refer to graphics in the text.
Consider where to place the graphic in the text.
Place graphics vertically.
Keep graphics simple and uncluttered.
Place titles, source documentation, etc., with the graphic.

Here is a great video on how to turn a boring document into a professional looking one. Unfortunately the embedding option was disabled so I had to paste the URL.

Pfeiffer, William. "Guidelines for Using Charts and Graphs."

How to ask for a Promotion by Cedric Cummings

Asking for a promotion can be one of the most nerve racking and stressful times in the workplace. It is not that you don't feel like you deserve a higher rank. The problem is getting your boss to see the same thing. Do not worry, I'm here with some handy tips on asking for that big promotion.

  • Prepare before approaching your employer: Document your achievements since your last review to show that you are an asset to your company. Also bring copies of the last review and make notes on what has improved or has been implemented on your behalf.

  • Have the right Attitude: Make sure that you are presenting yourself in the most professional and respectable way. Your co-workers and management should have a great view on you as a person. Make sure that they can envision you taking the management position and performing well.

  • Make an appointment: DO NOT just knock on your managers door and blitz them with your promotion situation. Make sure that you schedule a time before hand so you can have their full attention.

  • Deliver your message: When you finally get this meeting, it is time for you to perform perfectly. Make sure that you are clear with your manager and stress on your attributes. Explain why you deserve the position and why you will succeed in it. Do not forget that the well being of the company matters most. Remember the steps that you have taken to get to your current position and use them to keep moving up the ladder.

  • Hope for the best, but expect the worst: If you are denied the promotion, politely ask for a reason if they do not tell you. Then, see what you can improve on to better yourself to fill that position later down the line. Finally, work hard and be the best that you can be at your position. Do not let this affect your performance in your current position.

work cited:

Grace, Elizabeth. "How to Ask for A Promotion." 27 Mar. 2009 .

Citing Your Work; How and Why by Daniel White

As a writer, it is extremely important to document where you obtain your facts, quotes, and ideas whether it be from a book, an email or any other form of media available. By citing your sources, you obtain three important purposes:

• Your readers have the ability to look at where you got your information and facts so that they can then go and find more information on the subject.

• It allows writers to give support to the original writer in their ideas and assertions in documents such as proposals and reports.

• It gives writers credit for their work, thus avoiding plagiarism.

There are many different ways to cite your sources and they differ between each format meaning that there is no ONE correct way of citing your work (Citing a book is different from citing a website for example). In your works cited for each piece of media used, included should be the title of the work, when it was written and who it was written by as a bare minimum.

The best way to ensure precision when citing your work is to use a website that deals purely with citing your work such as This website allows you to select the format you wish to use (MLA or APA etc.), the type of media you are citing (article, website, book, etc.) and various other pieces of information. Then when you are done filling in the certain fields, it will generate an accurate citation based on the information provided.

Works Cited

EasyBib: Free Bibliography Maker - MLA, APA, Chicago citation styles. 30 Mar. 2009 .

Writing That Works: Communicating Effectively on the Job ninth edition (2006). Authors: Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu, and Gerald J. Alred

The Do's and Don'ts of Instant Messaging at Work by Evan Grant

Instant messaging (IM) is practically the text equivalent to a phone call. Nowadays, businesses use IM to collaborate on projects because of the ease of use and the immediate response it brings. However, there are some guidelines that would be wise to follow when using IM at work, so I am going to provide a list of do’s and don’ts when using IM in the workplace.


1. Separate your business contacts from your personal contacts on your buddy list.

- This will eliminate the possibility of a business contact accidently becoming involved in a personal conversation or vice versa.

2. Know that IM’s can be saved.

- Don’t type anything in an IM that you wouldn’t want repeated or read by another party. You may feel secure in making bold statements or making fun of your boss but the recipient can just as easily copy and paste something you wrote. Some IM services automatically archive every conversation you have ever held through each screen name, making what you type very insecure.

3. Be wary of viruses and other potential security risks.

- When collaborating on a paper, file transfers are a very helpful utility but you need to make sure you aren’t being sent a virus. IM file attachments can penetrate firewalls much easier than e-mail file attachments. Be sure to double check the quality of your firewall before accepting file attachments.

4. Know how to keep your messages short and to the point, and know when to say “ttyl.”

- With IM you can easily avoid pleasantries and get right to the point. Just ask your question, get your answer, and go back to work. For example:

managerdude: hey did you finish your TPS report?
whitecollardude: ill have it on your desk by noon.
managerdude: k


1. Don’t communicate confidential or sensitive messages over IM.

- If your business gives advice concerning stocks, medicine, law, or financial information, it would be best to not do so over IM. Better to stick with quick questions and conversations.

2. Don’t share personal information with others over IM.

- NEVER GIVE OUT CREDIT CARD INFORMATION OR PASSWORDS OVER IM. Even if you have complete trust in the person you are talking to avoid it completely. When you send IMs the text is relayed to a server before it gets to the recipient. If an employee from the IM provider or a hacker sees your personal information, it won’t be personal for much longer.

3. Don’t use a confusing user name or status.

- User names should be consistent throughout your company. (ex. Use the first initial, middle initial, and last name, like “emgrant.” Managerdude and whitecollardude should not be used.). Users should also be courteous by updating their status to let others know if they are available or not.

4. Don’t damage the reputation of you or your company.

- Again, be careful about what you say in an IM, but most importantly be sure not to put your company’s reputation in jeopardy. It could cost you your job…

Works Cited:

"10 tips for using instant messaging for business." Microsoft Corporation. 30 Mar. 2009.

"AOL's Third Annual Instant Messenger Trends Survey." Instant Messenger - AIM - Instant Message Your Online Buddies for Free - AIM. 30 Mar. 2009.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Birth of Writing by George Erkvania

One of the most important developments and discoveries of humankind has been writing, but often people do not realize how long and complicated this path has been.

The invention of writing happened in different way in different ancient civilizations, but it followed the same basic fundamental steps of development.
First, to indicate something people used it’s picture or conventional sign:

Later they made it to the phonetic writing system based on the mechanics of the Rebus.Than they went to a syllabic writing and at the end they started alphabetic writings

The Tigris-Euphrates river valley is often called the “Cradle of Civilization,” as it is the place where one of the earliest civilizations and the earliest writing system developed. (Image)
People living in southern Mesopotamia developed one of the earliest writing system in the world. Around 3100 B.C barley was the most important crop in Southern Mesopotamia and farmers needed to record the trades and amounts of received barleys.

Later, tool was used to wedge shapes into clay called cuneiforms. (From the Latin cuneus, meaning "wedge"). Cuneiform writing was developed and was used to express variety of information such as temple activities, business, trade, myths and personal letters.

Today Latin alphabet has become the most used alphabet in the world today. It is used all across Europe and around the world for thousands of different languages.

Reference: British Museum's website.(2001). Mesopotamia covering Sumer, Babylonia and Assyria. Retrieved March 28, 2009 from

Preparing For a Job Search, Finding and Obtaining Employment by Jennifer Flowers

Everyone goes through the same difficulties of finding and obtaining a job. Whether it's trouble with deciding on what type of job to apply for, how to go about applying for a position, or being non productive at all, we all end up in the same place. Unemployed. Following are a list of helpful steps that are encouraged to be followed while applying for a job. The benefits will be shown with the results of a position in a firm or by an employer that you are happy and can become successful with.
  • To start off, the most important thing is to determine the best job for you. You can find this out by:
  • 1. Assessing your skills / what you enjoy doing
  • 2. Your abilities
  • 3. Career goals and values
  • 4. What different areas interest you (for example, helping people, computers, animals, the environment etc.)

Next once you have figured out a few areas that interest you and would be possible candidates for a future job/career start researching via Internet, networking, newspapers/journals and college placement offices on campus. This will allow you to see which job opportunities are available and which you could imagine working as.

Once you have found some good prospective job listings the next step is to send a letter of inquiry or set up an informational interview with the employer to obtain information on the position as well as make a great first impression.

Next produce an accurate resume that tells of all your qualities as well as past work experience and awards or recognitions you have received over time. When preparing to write your resume remember to keep in mind the job you are aspiring to receive and to only include relevant information that will help you get that job!

If these simple steps are followed when preparing for a job search I guarantee you will be one step ahead of everyone else and finding and obtaining employment will be a breeze. Good Luck job hunting!


Writing That Works: Communicating Effectively on the Job ninth edition (2006). Authors: Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu, and Gerald J. Alred