The design of a technical document is a very important part of the development process. If a document is poorly designed, it can be distracting to the reader and even cause the content to lose credibility. Create a flyer (or brochure) using the techniques learned in this week’s reading assignment. Go to page 293 of Technical Communication to locate “Case 11: Designing a Flyer.” Study the “background” purpose and intended audience (pages 85-87).Review Document 11.1. Important: consider what the best organization might be for this information. Note: This document is only available in the online course. It CANNOT be accessed via the MacMillan website mentioned in the textbook.Create a one-page flyer in which you implement the design that you have determined will be most effective for the audience and purpose described on pages 254-255. Assume the target audience has little to no experience with your topic, but the audience would find useful an information summary on graduate school admissions tests. Required: make sure to integrate graphics (minimum of two and a maximum of four) to support the textual information that your flyer conveys. Keep in mind that the layout and balance of visual and textual information are critically important to fulfill the expectations of a multi-cultural audience, thereby conveying your message with clarity. Save your flyer as a PDF document.Submit your flyer as a PDF attachment to your peers through the discussion. Based on your study of selective readings from Chapters 11,12, and 21, include a 250-word analysis of your chosen page layout, columns, typography, titles and headings, and the integration of visual elements to support your text.ATTACHED ARE THE CHAPTERS NEEDED ALONG WITH THE Document 11.1  PLEASE MAKE SURE TO FOLLOW ALL DIRECTIONS. AND DO IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME AND GET IT DONE ON TIME.
Brochure: Design Elements of a Technical Document
Markel, M. (2015). Technical communication (11th ed.).  Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Chapter 11: Designing Print and Online Documents design refers to the physical appearance of print and online documents. For print documents, design features include binding, page size, typography, and use of color. For online documents, many of the same design elements apply, but there are unique elements, too. on a web page, for instance, there are navigation bars, headers and footers, and (sometimes) tables of contents and site maps. The effectiveness of a document depends largely on how well it is designed, because readers see the document before they actually read it. in less than a second, the document makes an impression on them, one that might determine how well they read it—or even whether they decide to read it at all. goals of document design In designing a document, you have five major goals: • to make a good impression on readers. Your document should reflect your own professional standards and those of your organization. • to help readers understand the structure and hierarchy of the information. As they navigate a document, readers should know where they are and how to get where they are headed. They should also be able to see the hierarchical relationship between one piece of information and another. • to help readers find the information they need. Usually, people don’t read every word in a print document, and they don’t study every screen of an online document. In print documents, design elements (such as tabs, icons, and color), page design, and typography help readers find the information they need quickly and easily. In online documents, design elements are critically important because readers can see only what is displayed on the screen; without design elements to help them navigate, they are stranded. • to help readers understand the information. Effective design can clarify information. For instance, designing a set of instructions so that the text describing each step is next to the accompanying graphic makes the instructions easier to understand. An online document with a navigation bar displaying the main sections is easier to understand than an online document without one. • to help readers remember the information. An effective design helps readers create a visual image of the information, making it easier to remember. Text boxes, pull quotes, and similar design elements help readers remember important explanations and passages. understanding design Principles Your biggest challenge in thinking about how to design a document is that, more than ever, readers control how the document appears. Although you can still write a memo, print it on a piece of 8.5 × 11-inch paper, and stick it in an interoffice envelope, that model of print-only communication is becoming increasingly rare. Most of the time, readers encounter your document online. Even if you produced it with a word processor, designed it to fit on a piece of 8.5 × 11-inch paper, and saved it as a PDF to preserve the design, your readers can still zoom in or out, altering what appears on their screen. For documents that are intended to be viewed online, such as websites, apps, and other kinds of programs, readers can control many aspects of the design, including color and the size, shape, and location of objects on the screen. Perhaps the most significant variable that you have to consider is screen size. Some devices on which your readers will use your document will be as large as big-screen TVs, whereas others will be as small as wrist watches. In this chapter, the term print document will be used to refer to documents that are designed to be printed on paper, such as letters, memos, and reports, regardless of whether readers hold pieces of paper in their hands or view the documents online. The term online document will be used to refer to docu- ments that are designed to be used online, such as websites, apps, and other software programs. Because there are so many different types of print and online documents used in so many different environments by so many different people for so many different purposes, it is impossible to provide detailed advice about “how to design” a technical document. Still, there are some powerful and durable principles that can help you design any kind of print or online document. The following discussion is based on Robin Williams’s The Non- designer’s Design Book (2008), which describes four principles of design: proximity, alignment, repetition, and contrast. PrOxiMity The principle of proximity is simple: if two items appear close to each other, the reader will interpret them as related to each other. If they are far apart, the reader will interpret them as unrelated. Text describing a graphic should be positioned close to the graphic, as shown in Figure 11.1. AliGNMeNt The principle of alignment says that you should consciously line up text and graphics along a real or imaginary vertical axis so that the reader can under- stand the relationships among elements. Figure 11.2 on page 253 shows how alignment works to help organize information. rePetitiON The principle of repetition says that you should format the same kind of information in the same way so that readers can recognize consistent pat terns. For example, all first-level headings should have the same typeface, type size, spacing above and below, and so forth. This repetition signals a connection between headings, making the content easier to understand. Other elements that are used to create consistent visual patterns are colors, icons, rules, and screens. Figure 11.3 shows an effective use of repetition. CONtrASt The principle of contrast says that the human eye is drawn to—and the brain interprets—differences in appearance between two items. For example, the principle of contrast explains why black print is easier to read against a white background than against a dark gray background; why 16-point type stands out more clearly against 8-point type than against 12-point type; and why informa- tion printed in a color, such as red, grabs readers’ attention when the informa- tion around it is printed in black. Figure 11.4 shows effective use of contrast. Planning the design of Print and online documents In a typical day at work, you might produce a number of documents without having to worry about design at all. Blog posts, text messages, presentation slides and memos that use standard company templates—these applications and others present no design challenges either because you cannot design them or because you don’t have the authority to design them. You will, however, have a say in the design of many documents you pro- duce or to which you contribute. In a case like this, the first step in design- ing the document is to plan. Analyze your audience and purpose, and then determine your resources. ANAlyze yOUr AUDieNCe AND PUrPOSe Consider factors such as your readers’ knowledge of the subject, their atti- tudes, their reasons for reading, the way they will be using the document, and the kinds of tasks they will perform. For instance, if you are writing a benefits manual for employees, you know that few people will read it from start to finish but that many people will refer to it. Therefore, you should include accessing tools: a table of contents, an index, tabs, and so forth. Think too about your audience’s expectations. Readers expect to see certain kinds of information presented in certain ways. Try to fulfill those expectations. For example, hyperlinks on websites are often underscored and presented in blue type. If you are writing for multicultural readers, keep in mind that many aspects of design vary from one culture to another. In memos, letters, reports, and manuals, you may see significant differences in design practice. The best advice, therefore, is to study documents from the culture you are addressing. Here are a few design elements to look for: • Paper size. Paper size will dictate some aspects of your page design. If your document will be printed in another country, find out about standard paper sizes in that country. • typeface preferences. One survey found that readers in the Pacific Rim prefer sans-serif typefaces in body text, whereas Western readers prefer serif typefaces (Ichimura, 2001). • Color preferences. In China, for example, red suggests happiness, whereas in Japan it suggests danger. • text direction. If some members of your audience read from right to left but others read from left to right, you might arrange your graphics vertically, from top to bottom; everybody reads from top to bottom. Or you might use Arabic numerals to indicate the order in which items are to be read (Horton, 1993). Think, too, about your purpose or purposes. For example, imagine that you are opening a dental office and you want to create a website. The first question is What is the purpose of the site? It’s one thing to provide informa- tion on your hours and directions to the office. But do you also want to direct patients to high-quality dental information? To enable them to set up or change appointments? Ask you a question? Each of these purposes affects the design, whether the document is going to print or online. DeterMiNe yOUr reSOUrCeS Think about your resources of time, money, and equipment. Short, informal documents are usually produced in-house; more-ambitious projects are often subcontracted to specialists. If your organization has a technical-publications department, consult the people there about scheduling and budgeting. • time. What is your schedule? To come up with a sophisticated design you might need professionals at service bureaus or print shops or specialists in online production. These professionals can require weeks or months. • money. Can you afford professional designers, print shops, and online- content developers? Most managers would budget thousands of dollars to design an annual report but not an in-house newsletter. • equipment. Complex designs require graphics and web software, as well as layout programs. A basic laser printer can produce attractive documents in black and white, but you need a more expensive printer for high- resolution color. designing Print documents Before you design the individual pages of a printed document, design the overall document. Decide whether you are creating a document that looks like a book, with content on both sides of the page, or a document that looks like a report, with content on only one side of the page. Decide whether to use paper of standard size (8.5 × 11 inches) or another size, choose a grade of paper, and decide how you will bind the pages together. Decide about the accessing elements you will include, such as a table of contents, index, and tabs. You want the different elements to work together to accomplish your objectives, and you want to stay within your budget for producing and (perhaps) shipping. That is, in designing the whole document, consider these four elements: size, paper, bindings, and accessing aids. Size Size refers to two aspects of print-document design: page size and page count. • Page size. Think about the best page size for your information and about how the document will be used. For a procedures manual that will sit on a shelf most of the time, three-hole 8.5 × 11-inch paper is a good choice. For a software tutorial that must fit easily on a desk while the reader works at the keyboard, consider a 5.5 × 8.5-inch size. Paper comes precut in a number of sizes, including 4.5 × 6 inches and 6 × 9 inches. Although paper can be cut to any size, nonstandard sizes are more expensive. • Page count. Because paper is expensive and heavy, you want as few pages as possible, especially if you are printing and mailing many copies. And there is a psychological factor, too: people don’t want to spend a lot of time reading technical documents. Therefore, if you can design a document so that it is 15 pages long rather than 30—but still attractive and easy to read—your readers will appreciate it. PAPer Paper is made not only in different standard sizes but also in different weights and with different coatings. Heavier paper costs more than lighter paper but provides better resolution for text and graphics. Coated paper is stronger and more durable than non-coated paper and provides the best resolution, but some coatings can produce a glare. To deal with this problem, designers often choose paper with a slight tint. Work closely with printing professionals. They know, for example, about UV-coated paper, which greatly reduces fading, and about recycled paper, which is continually improving in quality and decreasing in price. BiNDiNGS Although the pages of a very short document can be attached with a paper clip or a staple, longer documents require more-sophisticated binding tech- niques. Table 11.1 illustrates and describes the four types of bindings com- monly used in technical communication. ACCeSSiNG AiDS In a well-designed document, readers can easily find the information they seek. Most accessing aids use the design principles of repetition and contrast to help readers navigate the document. Table 11.2 on page 258 explains six common kinds of accessing aids. designing Print Pages In a well-designed printed page of technical communication, the reader can recognize patterns, such as where to look for certain kinds of information. PAGe lAyOUt Every page has two kinds of space: white space and space devoted to text and graphics. The best way to design a page is to make a grid: a drawing of what the page will look like. In making a grid, you decide how to use white space and determine how many columns to have on the page. Page Grids As the phrase suggests, a page grid is like a map on which you plan where the text, the graphics, and the white space will go. Many writers like to begin with a thumbnail sketch, a rough drawing that shows how the text and graphics will look on the page. Figure 11.8 shows thumbnail sketches of several options for a page from the body of a manual. Experiment by sketching the different kinds of pages of your document: body pages, front matter, and so on. When you are satisfied, make page grids. You can use either a computer or a pencil and paper, or you can combine the two techniques. Create different grids until the design is attractive, meets the needs of your readers, and seems appropriate for the information you are conveying. Figure 11.10 shows some possibilities. White Space Sometimes called negative space, white space is the area of the paper with no writing or graphics: the space between two columns of text, the space between text and graphics, and, most obviously, the margins. Margins, which make up close to half the area on a typical page, serve four main purposes: • They reduce the amount of information on the page, making the document easier to read and use. • They provide space for binding and allow readers to hold the page without covering up the text. • They provide a neat frame around the type. • They provide space for marginal glosses. Figure 11.11 shows common margin widths for an 8.5 × 11-inch document. White space can also set off and emphasize an element on the page. For instance, white space around a graphic separates it from the text and draws readers’ eyes to it. White space between columns helps readers read the text easily. And white space between sections of text helps readers see that one section is ending and another is beginning. COlUMNS Many workplace documents have multiple columns. A multicolumn design offers three major advantages: • Text is easier to read because the lines are shorter. • Columns allow you to fit more information on the page, because many graphics can fit in one column or extend across two or more columns. In addition, a multicolumn design enables you to put more words on a page than a single-column design. tyPOGrAPhy Typography, the study of type and the way people read it, encompasses typefaces, type families, case, and type size, as well as factors that affect the white space of a document: line length, line spacing, and justification. typefaces A typeface is a set of letters, numbers, punctuation marks, and other symbols, all bearing a characteristic design. There are thousands of typefaces, and more are designed every year. Figure 11.12 on page 266 shows three contrasting typefaces. Most of the time you will use a handful of standard typefaces such as Times New Roman, Cambria, Calibri, and Arial, which are included in your word-processing software and which your printer can reproduce. type Families Each typeface belongs to a family of typefaces, which con- sists of variations on the basic style, such as italic and boldface. Figure 11.14, for example, shows the Helvetica family. Be careful not to overload your document with too many different mem- bers of the same family. Used sparingly and consistently, these variations can help you with filtering: calling attention to various kinds of text, such as warnings and notes. Use italics for book titles and other elements, and use bold type for emphasis and headings. Stay away from outlined and shadowed variations. You can live a full, rewarding life without ever using them. Case To make your document easy to read, use uppercase and lowercase letters as you would in any other kind of writing (see Figure 11.15). Most people require 10 to 25 percent more time to read text using all uppercase letters than to read text using both uppercase and lowercase. In addition, uppercase letters take up as much as 35 percent more space than lowercase letters (Haley, 1991). If the text includes both cases, readers will find it easier to see where new sentences begin (Poulton, 1968). ETHICS NOTE USiNG tyPe SizeS reSPONSiBly Text set in large type contrasts with text set in small type. it makes sense to use large type to emphasize headings and other important information. But be careful with small type. it is unethical (and, according to some court rulings, illegal) to use excessively small type (such as 6-point or smaller type) to disguise information that you don’t want to stand out. When you read the fine print in an ad for cell-phone service, you get annoyed if you discover that the low rates are guaranteed for only three months or that you are committing to a long-term contract. you should get annoyed. hiding information in tiny type is annoying. don’t do it. line length The line length most often used on an 8.5 × 11-inch page— about 80 characters—is somewhat difficult to read. A shorter line of 50 to 60 characters is easier, especially in a long document (Biggs, 1980). line Spacing Sometimes called leading (pronounced “ledding”), line spacing refers to the amount of white space between lines or between a line of text and a graphic. If lines are too far apart, the page looks diffuse, the text loses coherence, and readers tire quickly. If lines are too close together, the page looks crowded and becomes difficult to read. Some research suggests that smaller type, longer lines, and sans-serif typefaces all benefit from extra line spacing. Figure 11.16 shows three variations in line spacing. Line spacing is usually determined by the kind of document you are writ- ing. Memos and letters are single-spaced; reports, proposals, and similar documents are often double-spaced or one-and-a-half-spaced. Figure 11.17 on page 270 shows how line spacing can be used to distin- guish one section of text from another and to separate text from graphics. Justification Justification refers to the alignment of words along the left and right margins. In technical communication, text is often left-justified (also called ragged right). Except for the first line in each paragraph, which is some- times indented, the lines begin along a uniform left margin but end on an irregular right margin. Ragged right is most common in word-processed text (even though word processors can justify the right margin). In justified text, also called full-justified text, both the left and the right margin are justified. Justified text is seen most often in formal documents, such as books. The following passage (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2002) is presented first in left-justified form and then in justified form: Full justification can make the text harder to read in one more way. Some word processors and typesetting systems automatically hyphenate words that do not fit on the line. Hyphenation slows down and distracts the reader. Left-justified text does not require as much hyphenation as full- justified text. titleS AND heADiNGS Titles and headings should stand out visually on the page because they intro- duce new ideas. titles Because the title is the most-important heading in a document, it should be displayed clearly and prominently. On a cover page or a title page, use boldface type in a large size, such as 18 or 24 points. If the title also appears at the top of the first page, make it slightly larger than the rest of the text—perhaps 16 or 18 points for a document printed in 12 point—but smaller than it is on the cover or title page. Many designers center titles on the page between the right and left margins. headings Readers should be able to tell when you are beginning a new topic. The most effective way to distinguish one level of heading from another is to use size variations (Williams & Spyridakis, 1992). Most readers will notice a 20-percent size difference between an A head (a first-level head- ing) and a B head (a second-level heading). Boldface also sets off headings effectively. The least-effective way to set off headings is underlining, because the underline obscures the descenders, the portions of letters that extend below the body of the letters, such as in p and y. In general, the more important the heading, the closer it is to the left mar- gin: A heads usually begin at the left margin, B heads are often indented a half inch, and C heads are often indented an inch. Indented C heads can also be run into the text. In designing headings, use line spacing carefully. A perceivable distance between a heading and the following text increases the impact of the head- ing. Consider these three examples: Summary in this example, the writer has skipped a line between the heading and the text that follows it. The heading stands out clearly. Summary in this example, the writer has not skipped a line between the heading and the text that follows it. The heading stands out, but not as emphatically. Summary. in this example, the writer has begun the text on the same line as the heading. This run-in style makes the heading stand out the least. Other DeSiGN FeAtUreS Table 11.3 shows five other design features that are used frequently in technical communication: rules, boxes, screens, marginal glosses, and pull quotes. designing online documents The previous discussion of designing printed documents focused on four compo- nents: size, paper, bindings, and accessing aids. Of these four components, size and accessing aids or tools are relevant to websites and other online documents. Size is important in that you can control—to some extent, at least—how much information (text, graphics, animation) you assign to the screen. On all but the smallest screens, you can use multiple columns and vary column width, and you can fill screens with content (and thereby use fewer screens) or leave a lot of white space (and thereby use more screens). As people are increasingly turning to smaller screens for reading online content, you want to pay more attention to designing your information so that it is clear and attractive. You also want to be sure that you design the site so that key information is emphasized and easily accessible to users. In addition, you want to consider audience character- istics such as age (use bigger type for older people) and disabilities (for example, include text versions of images so that people with vision disabilities can use software that “reads” your descriptions of the images). Accessing tools are vitally important, because if your audience can’t figure out how to find the information they want, they’re out of luck. With a print document, they can at least flip through the pages. The following discussion focuses on seven principles that can help you make it easy for readers to find and understand the information they seek: • Use design to emphasize important information. • Create informative headers and footers. • Help readers navigate the document. • Include extra features your readers might need. • Help readers connect with others. • Design for readers with disabilities. • Design for multicultural readers. Although some of these principles do not apply to every type of online docu- ment, they provide a useful starting point as you think about designing your document. USe DeSiGN tO eMPhASize iMPOrtANt iNFOrMAtiON The smaller the screen, the more cluttered it can become, making it difficult for readers to see what is truly important. In documents designed to be viewed on different-sized screens, you want readers to be able to find what they want quickly and easily. As you begin planning a site, decide what types of infor- mation are most essential for your audience, and ensure that that content in particular is clearly accessible from the home screen. Give your buttons, tabs, and other navigational features clear, informative headings. For more guidance on emphasizing important information, see Chapter 9. Once you have determined the information you want to emphasize, adhere to design principles rigorously so that users can easily identify key content. Use logical patterns of organization and the principles of proxim ity, alignment, repetition, and contrast so that readers know where they are and how to carry out the tasks they want to accomplish. Figure 11.22 shows a well-designed screen for a mobile phone. CreAte iNFOrMAtiVe heADerS AND FOOterS Headers and footers help readers understand and navigate your document, and they help establish your credibility. You want readers to know that they are reading an official document from your organization and that it was cre- ated by professionals. Figure 11.23 shows a typical website header, and Figure 11.24 shows a typical footer. helP reADerS NAViGAte the DOCUMeNt One important way to help readers navigate is to create and sustain a consistent visual design on every page or screen. Make the header, footer, background color or pattern, typography (typeface, type size, and color), and placement of the navigational links the same on every page. That way, read- ers will know where to look for these items. Making Your Document Easy To Navigate Follow these five suggestions to make it easy for readers to find what they want in your document. include a site map or index. a site map, which lists the pages on the site, can be a graphic or a textual list of the pages, classified according to logical categories. an index is an alphabetized list of the pages. Figure 11.25 shows a portion of a site map. use a table of contents at the top of long pages. if your page extends for more than a couple of screens, include a table of contents—a set of links to the items on that page—so that your readers do not have to scroll down to find the topic they want. Tables of contents can link to information farther down on the same page or to information on separate pages. Figure 11.26 shows an excerpt from the table of contents at the top of a frequently asked questions (FaQ) page. help readers get back to the top of long pages. if a page is long enough to justify a table of contents, include a “Back to top” link (a textual link or a button or icon) before the start of each new chunk of information. include a link to the home page on every page. This link can be a simple “Back to home page” textual link, a button, or an icon. include textual navigational links at the bottom of the page. if you use buttons or icons for links, include textual versions of those links at the bottom of the page. readers with impaired vision might use special software that reads the information on the screen. This software interprets text only, not graphics. iNClUDe extrA FeAtUreS yOUr reADerS MiGht NeeD Because readers with a range of interests and needs will visit your site, con- sider adding some or all of the following five features: • An FAQ page. A list of frequently asked questions helps new readers by providing basic information, explaining how to use the site, and directing them to more-detailed discussions. • A search page or engine. A search page or search engine enables readers to enter a keyword or phrase and find all the pages in the document that contain it. • resource links. If one of the purposes of your document is to educate readers, provide links to other sites. • A printable version of your site. Online documents are designed for a screen, not a page. A printable version of your document, with black text on a white background and all the text and graphics consolidated into one big file, will save readers paper and toner. • A text-only version of your document. Many readers with impaired vision rely on text because their specialized software cannot interpret graphics. Consider creating a text-only version of your document for these readers, and include a link to it on your home page. helP reADerS CONNeCt With OtherS Organizations use their online documents, in particular their websites, to promote interaction with clients, customers, suppliers, journalists, govern- ment agencies, and the general public. For this reason, most organizations use their sites to encourage their various stakeholders to connect with them through social media such as discussion boards and blogs. Use your online document to direct readers to interactive features of your own website, as well as to your pages on social-media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Figure 11.27 on page 286 shows a portion of NASA’s community page. DeSiGN FOr reADerS With DiSABilitieS The Internet has proved to be a terrific technology for people with disabilities because it brings a world of information to their devices, enabling them to work from home and participate in virtual communities. However, most sites on the Internet are not designed to accommodate people with disabilities. The following discussion highlights several ways to make your online documents easier for people with disabilities to use. Consider three main types of disabilities as you design your site: • vision impairment. People who cannot see, or cannot see well, rely on text- to-speech software. Do not rely on color or graphics alone to communicate information—provide either a text-only version of your document or textual equivalents of all your graphics. Use the “alt” (alternate) tag to create a textual label that appears when the reader holds the mouse over the graphic. For example, if you use a red icon to signal a warning, also use the word warning. Use 12-point or larger type throughout your site, and provide audio feedback—for example, having a button beep when the reader presses it. • hearing impairment. If you use video, provide captions and, if the video includes sound, a volume control. Also use visual feedback techniques; for example, make a button flash when the reader presses it. • mobility impairment. Some people with mobility impairments find it easier to use the keyboard than a mouse. Therefore, build in keyboard shortcuts wherever possible. If readers have to click on an area of the screen using a pointing device, make the area large so that it is easy to see and click on. DeSiGN FOr MUltiCUltUrAl AUDieNCeS About 75 percent of the people using the Internet are nonnative speakers of English, and that percentage continues to grow as more people from develop- ing nations go online (Internet World Stats, 2013). Therefore, it makes sense in planning your online documents to assume that many of your readers will not be proficient in English. Planning for a multicultural website is similar to planning for a multicul- tural printed document: • use common words and short sentences and paragraphs. • Avoid idioms, both verbal and visual, that might be confusing. For instance, don’t use sports metaphors, such as full-court press, or a graphic of an American-style mailbox to suggest an email link. • if a large percentage of your readers speak a language other than english, consider creating a version of your site in that language. The expense can be considerable, but so can the benefits. ETHICS NOTE DeSiGNiNG leGAl AND hONeSt ONliNe DOCUMeNtS you know that the words and images that you see on the internet are covered by copyright, even if you do not see a copyright symbol. The only exception is information that is in the public domain either because it is not covered by copyright (such as information created by entities of the u.S. federal government), because copyright has expired (the author has been dead over 70 years), or because the creator of the information has explicitly stated that the information is in the public domain and you are free to copy it. But what about the design of a site? almost all web designers readily admit to spending a lot of time looking at other sites and pages for inspiration. and they admit to looking at the computer code to see how that design was achieved. This is perfectly ethical. So is copying the code for routine elements such as tables. But is it ethical to download the code for a whole page, including the layout and the design, and then plug in your own data? no. your responsi- bility is to create your own information, then display it with your own design. designing online Pages Well-designed online pages are simple, with only a few colors and nothing extraneous. The text is easy to read and chunked effectively, and the links are written carefully so readers know where they are being directed. AiM FOr SiMPliCity When you create an online document, remember that readers are increas- ingly likely to use it on a device with a small screen. In addition, they will likely read in noisy, distracting environments with too much light or not enough light. For these reasons, keep the design as simple as you can. Designing a Simple Site Follow these four suggestions to make your design attractive and easy to use. use simple backgrounds. a plain background is best. avoid busy patterns that distract the reader from the words and graphics of the text. use conservative color combinations to increase text legibility. The greater the contrast between the text color and the background color, the more legible the text. The most legible color combination is black text against a white back- ground. Bad idea: black on purple. Avoid decorative graphics. don’t waste space using graphics that convey no useful information. Think twice before you use clip art. use thumbnail graphics. instead of a large graphic, which takes up space, requires a long time to download, and uses up your reader’s data-download allotment, use a thumbnail that readers can click on if they wish to open a larger version. Designing Easy-To-Read Text Follow these three suggestions to make the text on your sites easy to read. keep the text short. Poor screen resolution makes reading long stretches of text difficult. in general, pages should contain no more than two or three screens of information. Chunk information. When you write for the screen, chunk information to make it easier to understand. use frequent headings, brief paragraphs, and lists. make the text as simple as possible. use common words and short sentences to make the information as simple as the subject allows. MAke the text eASy tO reAD AND UNDerStAND Online pages are harder to read than paper documents because screen reso- lution is less sharp. CreAte CleAr, iNFOrMAtiVe liNkS Well-phrased links are easy to read and understand. By clearly indicating what kind of information the linked site provides, links can help readers decide whether to follow them. The following guidelines box is based on Web Style Guide Online (Lynch & Horton, 2011). Writing Clear, Informative Links links are critically important. Follow these three suggestions to make them easy to use. structure your sentences as if there were no links in your text. awkward Click here to go to the rehabilitation Center page, which links to research centers across the nation. smooth The rehabilitation Center page links to research centers across the nation. indicate what information the linked page contains. readers get frustrated if they wait for a web file to download and then discover that it doesn’t contain the information they expected. uninformative See the rehabilitation Center. informative See the rehabilitation Center’s hours of operation. use standard colors for text links. readers are used to seeing blue for links that have not yet been clicked and purple for links that have been clicked. if you have no good reason to use other colors, stick with the ones most readers expect. Analyzing several online-document designs The best way to learn about designing websites and their pages is to study them. Figures 11.28 to 11.30 offer examples of good web page design. WrITEr’S CHECKLIST Did you analyze your audience: their knowledge of the subject, their attitudes, their reasons for reading, and the kinds of tasks they will be carrying out? (p. 254) consider the purpose or purposes you are trying to achieve? (p. 255) determine your resources in time, money, and equipment? (p. 255) Designing Print Documents and Pages Did you consider the best size for the document? (p. 256) consider the best paper? (p. 256) consider the best binding? (p. 256) think about which accessing aids would be most appropriate, such as icons, color, dividers and tabs, and cross-reference tables? (p. 256) use color, if available, to highlight certain items, such as warnings? (p. 258) devise a style for headers and footers? (p. 259) devise a style for page numbers? (p. 259) draw thumbnail sketches and page grids that define columns and white space? (p. 262) choose typefaces that are appropriate for your subject? (p. 265) use appropriate styles from the type families? (p. 266) use type sizes that are appropriate for your subject and audience? (p. 268) choose a line length that is suitable for your subject and audience? (p. 268) choose line spacing that is suitable for your line length, subject, and audience? (p. 268) consider whether to use left-justified text or full-justified text? (p. 269) design your title for clarity and emphasis? (p. 272) devise a logical, consistent style for each heading level? (p. 272) use rules, boxes, screens, marginal glosses, and pull quotes where appropriate? (p. 272) Designing Online Documents Did you create informative headers and footers? (p. 282) help readers navigate the site by including a site map, a table of contents, “Back to top” links, and textual navigation buttons? (p. 283) include extra features your readers might need, such as an FAQ page, a search page or engine, resource links, a printable version of your site, or a text-only version? (p. 285) help readers connect with others through links to interactive portions of your site and to social-media sites? (p. 285) design for readers with vision, hearing, or mobility impairment? (p. 285) design for multicultural audiences? (p. 286) aim for simplicity in web page design by using simple backgrounds and conservative color combinations and by avoiding decorative graphics? (p. 287) make the text easy to read and understand by keeping it short, chunking information, and writing simply? (p. 288) create clear, informative links? (p. 288)
Brochure: Design Elements of a Technical Document
Markel, M. (2015). Technical communication (11th ed.).  Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Chapter 12: Creating Graphics GRAPHICS ARE THE “PICTURES” in technical communication: drawings, maps, photographs, diagrams, charts, graphs, and tables. Graphics range from realistic, such as photographs, to highly abstract, such as organization charts. they range from decorative, such as clip art and stock photos that show people seated at a conference table, to highly informative, such as a schematic diagram of an electronic device. Graphics are important in technical communication because they do the following: • catch readers’ attention and interest • help writers communicate information that is difficult to communicate with words • help writers clarify and emphasize information • help nonnative speakers of English understand information • help writers communicate information to multiple audiences with different interests, aptitudes, and reading habits the functions of graphics We have known for decades that graphics motivate people to study docu- ments more closely. Some 83 percent of what we learn derives from what we see, whereas only 11 percent derives from what we hear (Gatlin, 1988). Because we are good at acquiring information through sight, a document that includes a visual element in addition to the words is more effective than one that doesn’t. People studying a document with graphics learn about one-third more than people studying a document without graphics (Levie & Lentz, 1982). And people remember 43 percent more when a document includes graphics (Morrison & Jimmerson, 1989). In addition, readers like graphics. According to one survey, readers of computer documentation consistently want more graphics and fewer words (Brockmann, 1990, p. 203). Graphics offer five benefits that words alone cannot: • graphics are indispensable in demonstrating logical and numerical relationships. For example, an organization chart effectively represents the lines of authority in an organization. And if you want to communicate the number of power plants built in each of the last 10 years, a bar graph works better than a paragraph. • graphics can communicate spatial information more effectively than words alone. If you want to show the details of a bicycle derailleur, a diagram of the bicycle with a close-up of the derailleur is more effective than a verbal description. • graphics can communicate steps in a process more effectively than words alone. A troubleshooter’s guide, a common kind of table, explains what might be causing a problem in a process and how you might fix it. And a diagram can show clearly how acid rain forms. • graphics can save space. Consider the following paragraph: in the Wilmington area, some 80 percent of the population aged 18 to 24 have watched streamed movies on their computers. they watch an average of 1.86 movies a week. Among 25- to 34-year-olds, the percentage is 72, and the average number of movies is 1.62. Among 35- to 49-year-olds, the percentage is 62, and the average number of movies is 1.19. Among the 50 to 64 age group, the percentage is 47, and the number of movies watched averages 0.50. Finally, among those people 65 years old or older, the percentage is 28, and the average number of movies watched weekly is 0.31. Presenting this information in a paragraph is uneconomical and makes the information hard to remember. Presented as a table, however, the information is more concise and more memorable. 18–24 80 1.86 25-34 72 1.62 35–49 62 1.19 50–64 47 0.50 65+ 28 0.31 • graphics can reduce the cost of documents intended for international readers. Translation costs more than 10 cents per word (, 2013). Used effectively, graphics can reduce the number of words you have to translate. As you plan and draft your document, look for opportunities to use graph- ics to clarify, emphasize, summarize, and organize information. the characteristics of an effective graphic To be effective, graphics must be clear, understandable, and meaningfully related to the larger discussion. Follow these five principles: • a graphic should serve a purpose. Don’t include a graphic unless it will help readers understand or remember information. Avoid content-free photographs and clip art, such as drawings of businesspeople shaking hands. • a graphic should be simple and uncluttered. Three-dimensional bar graphs are easy to make, but they are harder to understand than two-dimensional ones, as shown in Figure 12.1. • a graphic should present a manageable amount of information. Presenting too much information can confuse readers. Consider audience and purpose: what kinds of graphics are your readers familiar with, how much do they already know about the subject, and what do you want the document to do? Because readers learn best if you present information in small chunks, create several simple graphics rather than a single complicated one. • a graphic should meet readers’ format expectations. Through experience, readers learn how to read different kinds of graphics. Follow the conventions—for instance, use diamonds to represent decision points in a flowchart—unless you have a good reason not to. • a graphic should be clearly labeled. Give every graphic (except a brief, informal one) a unique, clear, informative title. Fully label the columns of a table and the axes and lines of a graph. Don’t make readers guess whether you are using meters or yards, or whether you are also including statistics from the previous year. ETHICS NOTE CREATiNG hoNEsT GRAPhiCs Follow these six suggestions to ensure that you represent data honestly in your graphics. • If you did not create the graphic or generate the data, cite your source. If you want to publish a graphic that you did not create, obtain permission. For more on citing graphics, see page 302. • Include all relevant data. For example, if you have a data point that you cannot explain, do not change the scale to eliminate it. • Begin the axes in your graphs at zero—or mark them clearly—so that you represent quanti- ties honestly. • Do not use a table to hide a data point that would be obvious in a graph. • Show items as they really are. Do not manipulate a photograph of a computer monitor to make the screen look bigger than it is, for example. • Do not use color or shading to misrepresent an item’s importance. A light-shaded bar in a bar graph, for example, appears larger and nearer than a dark-shaded bar of the same size. common problem areas are pointed out in the discussions of various kinds of graphics throughout this chapter. Integrating Graphics and Text it is not enough to add graphics to your text; you have to integrate the two. Place the graphic in an appropriate location. if readers need the graphic in order to understand the discussion, put it directly after the relevant point in the discus- sion or as soon after it as possible. if the graphic merely supports or elaborates a point, include it as an appendix. introduce the graphic in the text. Whenever possible, refer to a graphic before it appears (ideally, on the same page). refer to the graphic by number (such as “see Figure 7”). do not refer to “the figure above” or “the figure below,” because the graphic might move during the production process. if the graphic is in an ap- pendix, cross-reference it: “For complete details of the operating characteristics, see Appendix B, page 19.” explain the graphic in the text. state what you want readers to learn from it. sometimes a simple paraphrase of the title is enough: “Figure 2 compares the costs of the three major types of coal gasification plants.” At other times, however, you might need to explain why the graphic is important or how to interpret it. if the graphic is intended to make a point, be explicit: As Figure 2 shows, a high-sulfur bituminous coal gasification plant is more expensive than either a low-sulfur bituminous or an anthracite plant, but more than half of its cost is for cleanup equipment. If these expenses could be eliminated, high-sulfur bituminous would be the least expensive of the three types of plants. in addition to text explanations, graphics are often accompanied by captions, ranging from a sentence to several paragraphs. make the graphic clearly visible. distinguish the graphic from the surrounding text by adding white space around it, placing rules (lines) above and below it, putting a screen behind it, or enclosing it in a box. make the graphic accessible. if the document is more than a few pages long and contains more than four or five graphics, consider including a list of illustrations so that readers can find them easily. For more about white space, screens, boxes, and rules, see Ch. 11, pp. 263 and 273. For more about lists of illustrations, see Ch. 18, p. 481. understanding the Process of creating graphics Creating graphics involves planning, producing, revising, and citing. PlANNiNG GRAPhiCs Whether you focus first on the text or the graphics, consider the following four issues as you plan your graphics. • audience. Will readers understand the kinds of graphics you want to use? Will they know the standard icons in your field? Are they motivated to read your document, or do you need to enliven the text—for example, by adding color for emphasis—to hold their attention? General audiences know how to read common types of graphics, such as those that appear frequently in newspapers or on popular websites. A general audience, for example, could use this bar graph to compare two bottles of wine: • Purpose. What point are you trying to make with the graphic? Imagine what you want your readers to know and do with the information. For example, if you want readers to know the exact dollar amounts spent on athletics by a college, use a table: • the kind of information you want to communicate. Your subject will help you decide what type of graphic to include. For example, in writing about languages spoken by your state’s citizens, you might use a table for the statistical data, a map for the patterns of language use, and a graph for statistical trends over time. • Physical conditions. The physical conditions in which readers will use the document—amount of lighting, amount of surface space available, the size of the screen on which the information will be displayed, and so forth—will influence the type of graphic as well as its size and shape, the thickness of lines, the size of type, and the color. As you plan how you are going to create the graphics, consider four impor- tant factors: • time. Because making a complicated graphic can take a lot of time, you For more about planning and need to establish a schedule. • money. Creating a high-quality graphic can be expensive. How big is the project budget? How can you use that money effectively? • equipment. Determine what tools and software you will require, such as spreadsheets for tables and graphs or graphics software for diagrams. • expertise. How much do you know about creating graphics? Do you have access to the expertise of others? PRodUCiNG GRAPhiCs Usually, you won’t have all the resources you would like. You will have to choose one of the following four approaches: • use existing graphics. For a student paper that will not be published, some instructors allow the use of photocopies or scans of existing graphics; other instructors do not. For a document that will be published, whether written by a student or a professional, using an existing graphic is permissible if the graphic is in the public domain (that is, not under copyright), if it is the property of the writer’s organization, or if the organization has obtained permission to use it. Be particularly careful about graphics you find on the web. Many people mistakenly think that anything on the web can be used without permission. The same copyright laws that apply to printed material apply to web-based material, whether words or graphics. For more on citing graphics, see page 302. Aside from the issue of copyright, think carefully before you use existing graphics. The style of the graphic might not match that of the others you want to use; the graphic might lack some features you want or include some you don’t. If you use an existing graphic, assign it your own number and title. • modify existing graphics. You can redraw an existing graphic or use a scanner to digitize the graphic and then modify it electronically with graphics software. • create graphics on a computer. You can create many kinds of graphics using your spreadsheet software and the drawing tools on your word processor. Consult the Selected Bibliography, page 693, for a list of books about computers and technical communication. • have someone else create the graphics. Professional-level graphics software can cost hundreds of dollars and require hundreds of hours of practice. Some companies have technical-publications departments with graphics experts, but others subcontract this work. Many print shops and service bureaus have graphics experts on staff or can direct you to them. REvisiNG GRAPhiCs As with any other aspect of technical communication, build in enough time and budget enough money to revise the graphics you want to use. Create a checklist and evaluate each graphic for effectiveness. The Writer’s Checklist at the end of this chapter is a good starting point. Show your graphics to people whose backgrounds are similar to those of your intended readers and ask them for suggestions. Revise the graphics and solicit more reactions. CiTiNG soURCEs oF GRAPhiCs If you wish to publish a graphic that is protected by copyright (even if you have revised it), you need to obtain written permission from the copyright holder. Related to the issue of permission is the issue of citation. Of course, you do not have to cite the source of a graphic if you created it yourself, if it is not protected by copyright, or if your organization owns the copyright. In all other cases, however, you should include a source citation, even if your document is a course assignment and will not be published. Citing the sources of graphics, even those you have revised substantially, shows your instructor that you understand professional conventions and your ethical responsibilities. If you are following a style manual, check to see whether it presents a for- mat for citing sources of graphics. In addition to citing a graphic’s source in the reference list, most style manuals call for a source statement in the caption: print source source: verduijn, 2015, p. 14. copyright 2015 by tedopres international B.v. reprinted with permission. online source source: Johnson space center digital image collection. copyright 2015 by NAsA. reprinted with permission. If your graphic is based on an existing graphic, the source statement should state that your graphic is “based on” or “adapted from” your source: source: Adapted from Jonklaas et al., 2011, p. 771. copyright 2008 by American Medical Association. reprinted with permission. using color effectively Color draws attention to information you want to emphasize, establishes visual patterns to promote understanding, and adds interest. But it is also easy to misuse. The following discussion is based on Jan V. White’s excellent text Color for the Electronic Age (1990). In using color in graphics and page design, keep these six principles in mind: • don’t overdo it. Readers can interpret only two or three colors at a time. Use colors for small items, such as portions of graphics and important words. And don’t use colors where black and white will work better. • use color to emphasize particular items. People interpret color before they interpret shape, size, or placement on the page. Color effectively draws readers’ attention to a particular item or group of items on a page. In Figure 12.2 (on page 304), for example, color adds emphasis to different kinds of information. • use color to create patterns. The principle of repetition—readers learn to recognize patterns—applies in graphics as well as in document design. In creating patterns, also consider shape. For instance, use red for safety comments but place them in octagons resembling a stop sign. This way, you give your readers two visual cues to help them recognize the pattern. Figure 12.3 (on page 304) shows the use of color to establish patterns. Color is also an effective way to emphasize design features such as text boxes, rules, screens, and headers and footers. • use contrast effectively. The visibility of a color is a function of the background against which it appears (see Figure 12.4). The strongest contrasts are between black and white and between black and yellow. The need for effective contrast also applies to graphics used in presentations, as shown in Figure 12.5. • take advantage of any symbolic meanings colors may already have. In American culture, for example, red signals danger, heat, or electricity; yellow signals caution; and orange signals warning. Using these warm colors in ways that depart from these familiar meanings could be confusing. The cooler colors—blues and greens—are more conservative and subtle. (Figure 12.6 illustrates these principles.) Keep in mind, however, that people in different cultures interpret colors differently. choosing the appropriate Kind of graphic As Figure 12.7 shows, even a few simple facts can yield a number of differ- ent points. Your responsibility when creating a graphic is to determine what point you want to make and how best to make it. Don’t rely on your software to do your thinking; it can’t. Graphics used in technical documents are classified as tables or figures. Tables are lists of data, usually numbers, arranged in columns. Figures are everything else: graphs, charts, diagrams, photographs, and the like. Typically, tables and figures are numbered separately: the first table in a document is Table 1; the first figure is Figure 1. In documents of more than one chapter (like this book), the graphics are usually numbered within each chapter. That is, Figure 3.2 is the second figure in Chapter 3. The discussion that follows is based on the classification system in William Horton’s “Pictures Please—Presenting Information Visually,” in Techniques for Technical Communicators (Horton, 1992). Table 12.1 on page 308 presents an overview of the following discussion. illUsTRATiNG NUMERiCAl iNFoRMATioN The kinds of graphics used most often to display numerical values are tables, bar graphs, infographics, line graphs, and pie charts. Tables Tables convey large amounts of numerical data easily, and they are often the only way to present several variables for a number of items. For example, if you wanted to show how many people are employed in six indus- tries in 10 states, a table would probably be most effective. Although tables lack the visual appeal of other kinds of graphics, they can handle much more information. In addition to having a number (“Table 1”), tables are identified by an infor- mative title that includes the items being compared and the basis (or bases) of comparison: table 3. Mallard population in rangeley, 2009–2011 table 4.7. the Growth of the robotics industry in Japan and the united states, 2010 Figure 12.8 (on page 310) illustrates the standard parts of a table. Follow these nine suggestions to make sure your tables are clear and professional. indicate the units of measure. if all the data are expressed in the same unit, indicate that unit in the title: Farm size in the Midwestern states (in hectares) if the data in different columns are expressed in different units, indicate the units in the column heads: population per capita income (in Millions) (in thousands of u.s. dollars) if all the data cells in a column use the same unit, indicate that unit in the column head, not in each data cell: speed (in Knots) 15 18 14 you can express data in both real numbers and percentages. A column head and the first data cell under it might read as follows: Number of students (percentage) 53 (83) in the stub—the left-hand column—list the items being compared. Arrange the items in a logical order: big to small, more important to less important, alphabeti- cal, chronological, geographical, and so forth. if the items fall into several catego- ries, include the names of the categories in the stub: Snowbelt States . . . . . . . . . . . connecticut . . . . . . . . . . . . New york . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vermont . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sunbelt States . . . . . . . . . . . . . Arizona . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . california . . . . . . . . . . . . . . New Mexico . . . . . . . . . . . . if you cannot group the items in the stub in logical categories, skip a line after ev- ery five rows to help the reader follow the rows across the table. or use a screen (a colored background) for every other set of five rows. Also useful is linking the stub and the next column with a row of dots called dot leaders. in the columns, arrange the data clearly and logically. use the decimal-tab fea- ture to line up the decimal points: 3,147.4 365.7 46,803.5 In general, don’t vary the units used in a column unless the quantities are so dissimilar that your readers would have a difficult time understanding them if expressed in the same units. 3.4 hr 12.7 min 4.3 sec this list would probably be easier for most readers to understand than one in which all quantities were expressed in the same unit. do the math. if your readers will need to know the totals for the columns or the rows, provide them. if your readers will need to know percentage changes from one column to the next, present them: Number of students (percentage change from previous year) 2013 2014 2015 619 644 (+4.0) 614 (–4.7) use dot leaders if a column contains a “blank” spot—a place where there are no appropriate data: 3,147 … 46,803 But don’t substitute dot leaders for a quantity of zero. don’t make the table wider than it needs to be. the reader should be able to scan across a row easily. As White (1984) points out, there is no reason to make a table as wide as the text column in the document. If a column head is long— more than five or six words—stack the words: computers sold Without a Memory-card reader minimize the use of rules. Grimstead (1987) recommends using rules only when necessary: to separate the title and the heads, the heads and the body, and the body and the notes. When you use rules, make them thin rather than thick. Provide footnotes where necessary. All the information your readers need in order to understand the table should accompany it. if you did not generate the information yourself, indicate your source. see the discussion of citing sources of graphics on pages 302–03. bar Graphs Like tables, bar graphs can communicate numerical values, but they are better at showing the relative values of two or more items. Figure 12.9 shows typical horizontal and vertical bar graphs that you can make easily using your spreadsheet software. Figure 12.10 shows an effective bar graph that uses grid lines. Follow these seven suggestions for making effective infographics. Make a claim. A good infographic states—or at least implies—a claim and then presents evidence to support it. For instance, the claim might be that the number of people accessing the internet in a language other than English is increasing at an accelerating rate, that the pace at which new drugs are coming onto the market is slowing, or that the cost of waging a campaign for a u.s. senate seat has increased tenfold in the last twenty years. the claim you present will suggest the theme of your graphics: you might consider maps, flowcharts, or statistics. Use accurate data. once you have settled on your claim, find facts to support it. use reputable sources, and then check and re-check them. Be sure to cite your sources on the infographic itself. Follow the guidelines for the type of graphic you are creating. Although you want to express your creativity when you create graphics, abide by the guidelines REATiNG GRAPhiCs for that type of graphic. For instance, if you use a bar graph to present data on the number of zebras born in captivity, your first obligation is to make the length of each bar reflect the quantity it represents; don’t manipulate the lengths of the bars to make the graph look like a zebra. Write concisely. if you need more than a paragraph to introduce a graphic, try revising the text to get the word count down or see if you can break the idea into several smaller ones. don’t present too much information. it’s natural to want to include all the data you have found, but if the infographic is too tightly packed with text and graph- ics, readers will be intimidated. use white space to let the graphics breathe. don’t go on forever. Your readers will want to spend a minute—maybe two—on the infographic. they won’t want to spend 15 minutes. Test the infographic. As with any kind of technical document, the more you revise, evaluate, and test the infographic, the better it will be. Infographics are very popular, but many of them are of low quality. Before you create an infographic to communicate technical information, be sure you are not skewing your data or oversimplifying to promote an agenda. Doing so is unethical. In Figure 12.13 (on page 320), digital strategist Hervé Peitrequin offers a clever commentary on infographics. line Graphs Line graphs are used almost exclusively to show changes in quantity over time, for example, the month-by-month production figures for a product. A line graph focuses readers’ attention on the change in quan- tity, whereas a bar graph emphasizes the quantities themselves. You can plot three or four lines on a line graph. If the lines intersect, use different colors or patterns to distinguish them. If the lines intersect too often, however, the graph will be unclear; in this case, draw separate graphs. Figure 12.14 (on page 321) shows a line graph. Follow these three suggestions to create line graphs that are clear and easy to read. if possible, begin the quantity scale at zero. doing so is the best way to portray the information honestly. if you cannot begin at zero, clearly indicate a break in the axis, if appropriate. use reasonable proportions for the vertical and horizontal axes. As with bar graphs, make the vertical axis about 25 percent shorter than the horizontal axis. use grid lines—horizontal, vertical, or both—rather than tick marks when your readers need to read the quantities precisely. Follow these eight suggestions to ensure that your pie charts are easy to understand and professional looking. Restrict the number of slices to no more than seven. As the slices get smaller, judging their relative sizes becomes more difficult. begin with the largest slice at the top and work clockwise in order of decreas- ing size, unless you have a good reason to arrange the slices otherwise. if you have several very small quantities, put them together in one slice, to maintain clarity. Explain its contents in a footnote. this slice, sometimes called “other,” follows the other slices. Place a label (horizontally, not radially) inside the slice, if space permits. include the percentage that each slice represents and, if appropriate, the raw number. To emphasize one slice, use a bright, contrasting color or separate the slice from the pie. do this, for example, when you introduce a discussion of the item represented by that slice Check to see that your software follows the appropriate guidelines for pie charts. some spreadsheet programs add fancy visual effects that can impair comprehension. For instance, many programs portray the pie in three dimen- sions, as shown here. In this three-dimensional pie chart about the percentages of a college’s student body, by year, the sophomore slice looks bigger than the freshman slice, even though it isn’t, because it appears closer to the reader. To communicate clearly, make pie charts two-dimensional. don’t overdo fill patterns. Fill patterns are patterns, shades, or colors that dis- tinguish one slice from another. in general, use simple, understated patterns or none at all. Check that your percentages add up to 100. if you are doing the calculations yourself, check your math. 18% 33% 20% 29% Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior illUsTRATiNG loGiCAl RElATioNshiPs Graphics can help you present logical relationships among items. For instance, in describing a piece of hardware, you might want to show its major components. The two kinds of graphics that best show logical relation- ships are diagrams and organization charts. diagrams A diagram is a visual metaphor that uses symbols to represent relationships among items or their properties. In technical communication, common kinds of diagrams are blueprints, wiring diagrams, and schematics. Figure 12.16 (on page 324) is a diagram. Often you need to indicate that readers are to carry out certain tasks at certain intervals. A table is a useful graphic for this kind of information, as shown in Figure 12.19. Flowcharts A flowchart, as the name suggests, shows the various stages of a process or a procedure. Flowcharts are useful, too, for summarizing instruc- tions. On a basic flowchart, stages are represented by labeled geometric shapes. Flowcharts can portray open systems (those that have a start and a finish) or closed systems (those that end where they began). Figure 12.20 (on page 328) shows an open-system flowchart and a closed-system flowchart. Figure 12.21 (on page 328) shows a deployment flowchart, which you can make using the drawing tools in your word processor. logic Trees Logic trees use a branching metaphor. The logic tree shown in Figure 12.22 (on page 329) helps students think through the process of regis- tering for a course. Techniques for showing Action or Motion In some types of process descriptions and instructions, you will want to show action or motion. For instance, in an instruction manual for helicopter technicians, you might want to illustrate the process of removing an oil dipstick or tightening a bolt, or you might want to show a warning light flashing. Although animation and video are frequently used to illustrate action or motion in online documents, such processes still need to be communicated in static graphics for print documents. If the reader is to perform the action, show the action from the reader’s point of view, as in Figure 12.23. Figure 12.24 illustrates four additional techniques for showing action. These techniques are conventional but not universal. If you are addressing readers from another culture, consult a qualified person from that culture to make sure your symbols are clear and inoffensive. illUsTRATiNG visUAl ANd sPATiAl ChARACTERisTiCs To illustrate visual and spatial characteristics, use photographs, screen shots, line drawings, and maps. Photographs Photographs are unmatched for reproducing visual detail. Sometimes, however, a photograph can provide too much information. In a sales brochure for an automobile, a glossy photograph of the dashboard might be very effective. But in an owner’s manual, if you want to show how to use the trip odometer, use a diagram that focuses on that one item. Sometimes a photograph can provide too little information. The item you want to highlight might be located inside the mechanism or obscured by another component. screen shots Screen shots—images of what appears on a computer moni- tor or some other screen—are often used in manuals to show users what the screen will look like as they perform tasks with the device. Readers who see that the screen shot accurately portrays what appears on their own devices are reassured and therefore better able to concentrate on the task they are trying to perform. Figure 12.26 is an example of how screen shots are used. creating effective graphics for multicultural readers Whether you are writing for people within your organization or outside it, con- sider the needs of readers whose first language is different from your own. Like words, graphics have cultural meanings. If you are unaware of these meanings, you could communicate something very different from what you intend. The following guidelines are based on William Horton’s article “The Almost Univer- sal Language: Graphics for International Documents” (1993). • Be aware that reading patterns differ. In some countries, people read from right to left or from top to bottom. In some cultures, direction signifies value: the right-hand side is superior to the left, or the reverse. You need to think about how to sequence graphics that show action or where to put “before” and “after” graphics. If you want to show a direction, as in an informal flowchart, consider using arrows to indicate how to read the chart. • Be aware of varying cultural attitudes toward giving instruction. Instructions for products made in Japan are highly polite and deferential: “Please attach the cable at this time.” Some cultures favor spelling out generalprinciples but leaving the reader to supply the details. To people in these cultures, instructions containing a detailed close-up of how to carry out a task might appear insulting. • deemphasize trivial details. Because common objects, such as plugs on the ends of power cords, come in different shapes around the world, draw them to look generic rather than specific to one country. • avoid culture-specific language, symbols, and references. Don’t use a picture of a mouse (the furry rodent) to symbolize a computer mouse because the device is not known by that name everywhere. Avoid the casual use of national symbols (such as the maple leaf or national flags); any error in a detail might offend your readers. Use colors carefully: red means danger to most people from Western cultures, but it is a celebratory color to the Chinese. • Portray people very carefully. Every aspect of a person’s appearance, from clothing to hairstyle to physical features, is culture- or race-specific. A photograph of a woman in casual Western attire seated at a workstation would be ineffective in an Islamic culture where only a woman’s hands and eyes may be shown. Horton (1993) recommends using stick figures or silhouettes that do not suggest any one culture, race, or sex. • Be particularly careful in portraying hand gestures. Many Western hand gestures, such as the “okay” sign, are considered obscene in other cultures, and some people consider long red fingernails inappropriate. Use hands in graphics only when necessary—for example, to illustrate carrying out a task—and obscure the person’s sex and race. Cultural differences are many and subtle. Learn as much as possible about your readers and about their culture and outlook, and have your graphics reviewed by a native of the culture. WRITER’S CHECKlIST Does the graphic have a purpose? (p. 297) Is the graphic simple and uncluttered? (p. 297) Does the graphic present a manageable amount of information? (p. 297) Does the graphic meet readers’ format expectations? (p. 297) Is the graphic clearly labeled? (p. 297) Is the graphic honest? (p. 298) Does the graphic appear in a logical location in the document? (p. 298) Is the graphic introduced clearly in the text? (p. 298) Is the graphic explained in the text? (p. 298) Is the graphic clearly visible in the text? (p. 299) Is the graphic easily accessible to readers? (p. 299) If you want to use an existing graphic, do you have the legal right to do so? (p. 301) If so, have you cited its source appropriately? (p. 302) Is the graphic inoffensive to your readers? (p. 334)
Brochure: Design Elements of a Technical Document
Markel, M. (2015). Technical communication (11th ed.).  Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s. Chapter 21: Making Oral Presentations A RECENT sEARCh foR “death by PowerPoint” on Google returned some 1,410,000 hits. apparently, a lot of people have been on the receiving end of boring presentations built around bullet slides. but an oral presentation—with or without slides—doesn’t have to be deadly dull. and the process of creating and delivering a presentation doesn’t have to be frightening. you might not have had much experience in public speaking, and perhaps your few attempts have been difficult. however, if you approach it logically, an oral presentation is simply another application you need to master in your role as a technical professional or technical communicator. once you learn that the people in the room are there to hear what you have to say—not to stare at you or evaluate your clothing or catch you making a grammar mistake—you can calm down and deliver your information effectively while projecting your professionalism. There are four basic types of presentations: • impromptu presentations. you deliver the presentation without advance notice. For instance, at a meeting, your supervisor calls on you to speak for a few minutes about a project you are working on. • extemporaneous presentations. you plan and rehearse the presentation, and you might refer to notes or an outline, but you create the sentences as you speak. at its best, an extemporaneous presentation is clear and sounds spontaneous. • Scripted presentations. you read a text that was written out completely in advance (by you or someone else). you sacrifice naturalness for increased clarity and precision. • memorized presentations. you speak without notes or a script. Memorized presentations are not appropriate for most technical subjects because most people cannot memorize presentations longer than a few minutes. This chapter discusses extemporaneous and scripted presentations. understanding the role of oral presentations An oral presentation has one big advantage over a written one: it enables a dialogue between the speaker and the audience. Listeners can make com- ments or ask questions, and the speaker and listeners can talk before and after the presentation. As a technical communicator, you can expect to give oral presentations to five types of audiences: • clients and customers. You present the features of your products or services and their advantages over those of the competition. After concluding the sale or landing the contract, you might provide oral operating instructions and maintenance tips to users. • colleagues in your organization. You might instruct co-workers on a subject you know well. After you return from an important conference or an out-of-town project, you might brief your supervisors. If you have an idea for improving operations at your organization, you might write an informal proposal and then present it orally to a small group of managers. Your presentation helps them determine whether to study the idea. • fellow professionals at technical conferences. You might speak about your own research project or about a team project to professionals in your field or in other fields. • government agencies. You might speak before local, state, or federal government officials to explain a project your organization carried out. Or you might explain a proposed project so that the government officials can assess its implications. For instance, if you represent a developer, you might need to speak about the possible environmental impacts of a project your organization is proposing. • the public. You might deliver oral presentations to civic organizations and the general public to help these audiences understand your organization’s activities and plans. Oral presentations can help your organization reinforce its brand. understanding the process of preparing and delivering an oral presentation The Focus on Process box below presents an overview of the process of pre- paring and delivering an oral presentation. The rest of this chapter discusses this process, beginning with how to prepare a presentation. foCus oN PRoCEss when preparing an oral presentation, pay special attention to these steps. Planning: you will need to prepare effective presentation graphics that are visible, legible, simple, clear, and correct. Choose the appropriate technology based on the speaking situation and the available resources. Drafting: Choose effective and memorable language. your listeners will not be able to read your presentation to help them understand your message. Revising, editing, proofreading rehearse at least three times, making any necessary changes to your transitions, the order of your slides, or your graphics. preparing the presentation When you see an excellent 20-minute presentation, you are seeing only the last 20 minutes of a process that took many hours. Experts recommend devoting 20 to 60 minutes of preparation time for each minute of the finished presentation (Nienow, 2013). That means that the average 20-minute presen- tation might take more than 13 hours to prepare. Obviously, there are many variables, including your knowledge of the subject and your experience creat- ing graphics and giving presentations on that subject. But the point is that good presentations don’t just happen. As you start to prepare a presentation, think about ways to enlist others to help you prepare and deliver it. If possible, you should rehearse the presen- tation in front of others. You can also call on others to help you think about your audience and purpose, the organization of the information, the types of graphics to use, appropriate designs for slides, and so forth. The more exten- sively you work with other people as you plan, assemble, and rehearse, the more successful the presentation is likely to be. Preparing an oral presentation requires five steps: • analyzing the speaking situation • organizing and developing the presentation • preparing presentation graphics • choosing effective language • rehearsing the presentation ANAlyziNG thE SPEAkiNG SitUAtiON First, analyze your audience and purpose. Then determine how much infor- mation you can deliver in the allotted time. Analyzing your Audience and Purpose In planning an oral pre- sentation, consider audience and purpose, just as you would in writing a document. • Audience. What does the audience know about your subject? Your answer will help you determine the level of technical vocabulary and concepts you will use, as well as the types of graphics. Why are audience members listening to your presentation? Are they likely to be hostile, enthusiastic, or neutral? A presentation on the benefits of free trade, for instance, will be received one way by conservative economists and another way by U.S. steelworkers. Does your audience include nonnative speakers of English? If so, prepare to slow down the pace of the delivery and use simple vocabulary. • purpose. Are you attempting to inform or to both inform and persuade? If you are explaining how wind-turbine farms work, you will describe a process. If you are explaining why your company’s wind turbines are an economical way to generate power, you will compare them with other power sources. Your analysis of your audience and purpose will affect the content and the form of your presentation. For example, you might have to emphasize some aspects of your subject and ignore others altogether. Or you might have to arrange topics to accommodate an audience’s needs. Budgeting your time At most professional meetings, each speaker is given a maximum time, such as 20 minutes. If the question-and-answer period is part of your allotted time, plan accordingly. Even for an informal presentation, you will proba- bly have to work within an unstated time limit that you must determine from the speaking situation. If you take more than your time, eventually your listeners will resent you or simply stop paying attention. For a 20-minute presentation, the time allotment shown in Table 21.1 is typical. For scripted presentations, most speakers need a little over a minute to deliver a double-spaced page of text effectively. ORGANiziNG AND DEvElOPiNG thE PRESENtAtiON The speaking situation will help you decide how to organize and develop the information you will present. Start by considering the organizational patterns used typically in technical communication. One of them might fit the speaking situation. For instance, if you are a quality-assurance engineer for a computer-chip manufacturer and must address your technical colleagues on why one of the company’s products is experiencing a higher-than-normal failure rate, think in terms of cause and effect: the high failure rate is the effect, but what is the cause? Or think in terms of problem-method-solution: the high failure rate is the prob- lem; the research you conducted to determine its cause is the method; your recommended action is the solution. Of course, you can combine and adapt several organizational patterns. As you create an effective organizational pattern for your presentation, note the kinds of information you will need for each section of the presenta- tion. Some of this information will be data; some of it will be graphics that you can use in your presentation; some might be objects that you want to pass around in the audience. Some presenters like to outline their presentations on paper or in a word- processing document. However, more and more, people are outlining with their presentation software. As you organize your presentation, you will want to plan the introduction and the conclusion. Planning the introduction Like an introduction to a written document, an introduction to an oral presentation helps your audience understand what you are going to say, why you are going to say it, and how you are going to say it. Planning the Conclusion Like all conclusions, a conclusion to an oral presentation reinforces what you have said and looks to the future. Introducing the Presentation in introducing a presentation, consider these five suggestions. introduce yourself. unless you are speaking to colleagues you work with every day, begin with an introduction: “Good morning. My name is omar Castillo, and i’m the director of Facilities here at united.” if you are using slides, include your name and position on the title slide. State the title of your presentation. like all titles, titles of presentations should name the subject and purpose, such as “replacing the hvaC system in building 3: Findings from the Feasibility study.” include the title of your presentation on your title slide. explain the purpose of the presentation. This explanation can be brief: “My purpose today is to present the results of the feasibility study carried out by the Facilities Group. as you may recall, last quarter we were charged with determin- ing whether it would be wise to replace the hvaC system in building 3.” State your main point. an explicit statement can help your audience understand the rest of the presentation: “our main finding is that the hvaC system should be replaced as soon as possible. replacing it would cost approximately $120,000. The payback period would be 2.5 years. we recommend that we start soliciting bids now, for an installation date in the third week of november.” provide an advance organizer. listeners need an advance organizer that specifi- cally states where you are going: “First, i’d like to describe our present system, highlighting the recent problems we have experienced. next, i’d like to . . . . Then, i’d like to . . . . Finally, i’d like to invite your questions.” Concluding the Presentation in concluding a presentation, consider these four suggestions. Announce that you are concluding. For example, “at this point, i’d like to conclude my talk with . . . .” This statement helps the audience focus on your conclusions. Summarize the main points. because listeners cannot replay what you have said, you should briefly summarize your main points. if you are using slides, you should present a slide that lists each of your main points in one short phrase. look to the future. if appropriate, speak briefly about what you think (or hope) will happen next: “if the president accepts our recommendation, you can expect the renovation to begin in late november. after a few hectic weeks, we’ll have the ability to control our environment much more precisely than we can now—and start to reduce our expenses and our carbon footprint.” invite questions politely. you want to invite questions because they help you clarify what you said or communicate information that you did not present in the formal presentation. you want to ask politely to encourage people to speak up. PREPARiNG PRESENtAtiON GRAPhiCS Graphics clarify or highlight important ideas or facts. Statistical data, in particular, lend themselves to graphical presentation, as do abstract relation- ships and descriptions of equipment or processes. Researchers have known for decades that audiences remember information better if it is presented to them verbally and visually rather than only verbally (see, for instance, Fleming and Levie, 1978). Research reported by speaking coach Terry C. Smith (1991) indicates that presentations that include graphics are judged more professional, persuasive, and credible than those that do not. In addition, Smith notes, audiences remember the information better: REtENtiON AFtER 3 HR 3 DAYS without graphics 70% 10% with graphics 85% 65% One other advantage of using presentation graphics is that the audience is not always looking at you. Giving the audience another visual focus can reduce your nervousness. Most speakers use presentation software to develop graphics. By far the most-popular program is PowerPoint, but other programs are becoming popular as well. One that has gained a lot of attention is Prezi, which takes a different approach from PowerPoint. Whereas PowerPoint uses a linear organization—the speaker presents each slide in sequence—Prezi uses a network or web pattern of organization. Figure 21.1 shows an example of a Prezi slide. Characteristics of an Effective Slide An effective presentation graphic has five characteristics: • it presents a clear, well-supported claim. In a presentation slide, the best way to present a claim and to support it is to put the claim in the headline section of the slide and the support in the body of the slide. Engineering professor and presentation specialist Michael Alley (2007) recommends the structure shown in Figure 21.2. • it is easy to see. The most common problem with presentation graphics is that they are too small. In general, text has to be in 24-point type or larger to be visible on a screen. Figure 21.3 on page 585 shows a slide that contains so much information that most of it is too small to see easily. • it is easy to read. Use clear, legible lines for drawings and diagrams; black on white works best. Use legible typefaces for text; a boldface sans-serif typeface such as Arial or Helvetica is effective because it reproduces clearly on a screen. Avoid shadowed and outlined letters. • it is simple. Text and drawings must be simple. Each graphic should present only one idea. Your listeners have not seen the graphic before and will not be able to linger over it. • it is correct. Proofread your graphics carefully. Everyone makes mistakes in grammar, punctuation, or spelling, but mistakes are particularly embarrassing when they are 10 inches tall on a screen. When you use presentation software to create a set of graphics for a presentation, avoid the templates, many of which violate basic design prin- ciples. Instead, create a simple design. In PowerPoint, use the Slide Master feature. In Prezi, select “Start blank Prezi” on the “Choose your template” page. Presentation software programs contain many fancy animation effects. For example, you can set the software so that when a new slide appears, it is accompanied by the sound of applause or of breaking glass, and the head- ing text spins around like a pinwheel. Do not use animation effects that are unrelated to your subject. They undercut your professionalism and quickly become tiresome. However, one animation effect in PowerPoint, sometimes called appear and dim, is useful. When you create a bulleted list, you can set the software to show just the first bullet item and then make the next bullet item appear when you click the mouse. When you do so, the previous bullet item dims. This feature is useful because it focuses the audience’s attention on the bul- let item you are discussing. Regardless of whether you are using the appear-and-dim feature, set the software so that you use the mouse (or a colleague does) to advance from one graphic to the next. If you set the software so that the graph- ics advance automatically at a specified interval, such as 60 seconds, you will have to speed up or slow down your presentation to keep up with the graphics. One more point: you cannot use copyrighted material—images, text, music, video, or other material—in your presentation without written permission to do so. (Your presentations in class, however, do not require permission because they are covered by the fair-use exemption.) Graphics and the Speaking Situation To plan your graphics, analyze four aspects of the speaking situation: • length of the presentation. How many slides should you have? Smith (1991) suggests showing a different slide approximately every 30 seconds of the presentation. This figure is only a guideline; base your decision on your subject and audience. Still, the general point is valid: it is far better to have a series of simple slides than to have one complicated one that stays on the screen for five minutes. • Audience aptitude and experience. What kinds of graphics can your audience understand easily? You don’t want to present scatter graphs, for example, if your audience does not know how to interpret them. • Size and layout of the room. Graphics to be used in a small meeting room differ from those suitable for a 500-seat auditorium. Think first about the size of the images, then about the layout of the room. For instance, will a window create glare that you will have to consider as you plan the type or placement of the graphics? • equipment. Find out what kind of equipment will be available in the presentation room. Ask about backups in case of equipment failure. If possible, bring your own equipment—then you can be confident that the equipment works and you know how to use it. Some speakers bring graphics in two media just in case; that is, they have slides, but they also have transparencies of the same graphics. If your presentation is going to be recorded to be made available on a website or as a podcast, try to arrange to have the recording technicians visit the site beforehand to see if there are any problems they will need to solve. Using Graphics to Signal the Organization of a Presentation Used effectively, graphics can help you communicate how your presen- tation is organized. For example, you can use the transition from one graphic to the next to indicate the transition from one point to the next. Figure 21.4 shows the slides for a presentation that accompanied the report in Chapter 18 on tablet computer use at Rawlings Regional Medi- cal Center (see p. 488). ChOOSiNG EFFECtivE lANGUAGE Delivering an oral presentation is more challenging than writing a document for two reasons: • Listeners can’t reread something they didn’t understand. • Because you are speaking live, you must maintain your listeners’ attention, even if they are hungry or tired or the room is too hot. Using language effectively helps you meet these two challenges. Using language to Signal Advance Organizers, Summaries, and transitions Even if you use graphics effectively, listeners cannot “see” the organization of a presentation as well as readers can. For this reason, use lan- guage to alert your listeners to advance organizers, summaries, and transitions. • Advance organizers. Use an advance organizer (a statement that tells the listener what you are about to say) in the introduction. In addition, use advance organizers when you introduce main ideas in the body of the presentation. • Summaries. The major summary is in the conclusion, but you might also summarize at strategic points in the body of the presentation. For instance, after a three- to four-minute discussion of a major point, you might summarize it in one sentence before going on to the next major point. Here is a sample summary from a conclusion: let me conclude by summarizing my three main points about the implications of the new rCra regulations on the long-range waste-management strategy for radnor Township. The first point is . . . . The second point is . . . . The third point is . . . . i hope this presentation will give you some ideas as you think about the challenges of implementing the rCra. • transitions. As you move from one point to the next, signal the transition clearly. Summarize the previous point, and then announce that you are moving to the next point: it is clear, then, that the federal government has issued regulations without indicating how it expects county governments to comply with them. i’d like to turn now to my second main point. . . . Using Memorable language Effective presentations require memorable language. Using Memorable Language in Oral Presentations draw on these three techniques to help make a lasting impression on your audience. involve the audience. People are more interested in their own concerns than in yours. Talk to the audience about their problems and their solutions. in the introduction, establish a link between your topic and the audience’s interests. For instance, a presentation to a city council about waste management might begin like this: Picture yourself on the radnor Township Council two years from now. after exhaustive hearings, proposals, and feasibility studies, you still don’t have a waste-management plan that meets federal regulations. what you do have is a mounting debt: the township is being fined $1,000 per day until you implement an acceptable plan. refer to people, not to abstractions. People remember specifics; they forget abstractions. To make a point memorable, describe it in human terms: what could you do with that $365,000 every year? in each computer lab in each school in the township, you could replace each laptop every three years instead of every four years. or you could expand your school-lunch program to feed every needy child in the township. or you could extend your after- school programs to cover an additional 3,000 students. use interesting facts, figures, and quotations. search the internet for interesting information about your subject. For instance, you might find a brief quotation from an authoritative figure in the field or a famous person not generally associ- ated with the field (for example, Theodore roosevelt on waste management and the environment). A note about humor: only a few hundred people in the United States make a good living being funny. Don’t plan to tell a joke. If something hap- pens during the presentation that provides an opening for a witty remark and you are good at making witty remarks, fine. But don’t prepare to be funny. REhEARSiNG thE PRESENtAtiON Even the most gifted speakers need to rehearse. It is a good idea to set aside enough time to rehearse your speech thoroughly. Rehearsing the Extemporaneous Presentation Rehearse your extemporaneous presentation at least three times. • first rehearsal. Don’t worry about posture or voice projection. Just deliver your presentation aloud with your presentation slides. Your goal is to see if the speech makes sense—if you can explain all the points and create effective transitions. If you have trouble, stop and try to figure out the problem. If you need more information, get it. If you need a better transition, create one. You are likely to learn that you need to revise the order of your slides. Pick up where you left off and continue the rehearsal, stopping again where necessary to revise. • Second rehearsal. This time, the presentation should flow more easily. Make any necessary changes to the slides. When you have complete control over the organization and flow, check to see if you are within the time limit. • third rehearsal. After a satisfactory second rehearsal, try the presentation under more realistic circumstances—if possible, in front of others. The listeners might offer questions or constructive advice about your speaking style. If people aren’t available, record a video of the presentation on your computer or phone, and then evaluate your own delivery. If you can visit the site of the presentation to rehearse there, you will find giving the actual speech a little easier. Rehearse again until you are satisfied with your presentation, but don’t try to memorize it. Rehearsing the Scripted Presentation Rehearsing a scripted presentation is a combination of revising and editing the text and rehearsing your delivery. As you revise, read the script aloud to hear how it sounds. Once you think the presentation says what you want to say, try recording yourself with an audio or video recorder as you read. Revise the presentation until you are satisfied, and then rehearse in front of real people. Do not memorize the presentation. There is no need to; you will have your script in front of you on the podium. delivering the presentation When giving your presentation, you will concentrate on what you have to say. However, you will have three additional concerns: staying calm, using your voice effectively, and using your body effectively. CAlMiNG yOUR NERvES Most professional actors admit to being nervous before a performance, so it is no wonder that most technical speakers are nervous. You might well fear that you will forget everything or that no one will be able to hear you. These fears are common. But keep in mind three facts about nervousness: • you are much more aware of your nervousness than the audience is. They are farther away from your trembling hands. • nervousness gives you energy and enthusiasm. Without energy and enthusiasm, your presentation will be flat. If you seem bored and listless, your audience will become bored and listless. • After a few minutes, your nervousness will pass. You will be able to relax and concentrate on the subject. This advice is unlikely to make you feel much better if you are distracted by nerves as you wait to give your presentation. Experienced speakers offer three tips for coping with nervousness: • realize that you are prepared. If you have done your homework, prepared the presentation carefully, and rehearsed it several times, you’ll be fine. • realize that the audience is there to hear you, not to judge you. Your listeners want to hear what you have to say. They are much less interested in your nervousness than you are. • realize that your audience is made up of individual people who happen to be sitting in the same room. You’ll feel better if you realize that audience members are like the people you talk to every day and they also get nervous before making presentations. When it is time to begin, don’t jump up to the lectern and start speaking quickly. Walk up slowly and arrange your text, outline, or note cards before you. If water is available, take a sip. Look out at the audience for a few seconds before you begin. Begin with “Good morning” (or “Good afternoon” or “Good evening”), and refer to any officers and dignitaries present. If you have not been intro- duced, introduce yourself. In less-formal contexts, just begin your presentation. So that the audience will listen to you and have confidence in what you say, use your voice and your body to project an attitude of restrained self- confidence. Show interest in your topic and knowledge about your subject. Releasing Nervous Energy experienced speakers suggest the following four strategies for dealing with nervous- ness before a presentation. Walk around. a brisk walk of a minute or two can calm you by dissipating some of your nervous energy. go off by yourself for a few minutes. having some time alone can help you com- pose your thoughts and realize that you can handle your nervousness. talk with someone for a few minutes. For some speakers, distraction works best. Find someone to talk to. take several deep breaths, exhaling slowly. doing so will help you control your nerves. USiNG yOUR vOiCE EFFECtivEly Inexperienced speakers often have problems with five aspects of vocalizing. • volume. Because acoustics vary greatly from room to room, you won’t know how well your voice will carry in a particular setting until you have heard someone speaking there. In some rooms, speakers can use a conversational volume. Other rooms require greater voice projection. Because more people speak too softly than too loudly, you might ask if the people in the back of the room can hear you. However, even soft-spoken people tend to speak too loudly when they speak into microphones. If you are using a mic, glance at your audience to see if you need to adjust your volume. The body language of audience members will be clear. • Speed. Nervousness makes people speak quickly. Even if you think you are speaking at the right rate, you might be going a little too fast for some listeners. Although you know your subject well, your listeners are trying to understand new information. For particularly difficult points, slow down for emphasis. After finishing one major point, pause before introducing the next one. • pitch. In an effort to control their voices, many speakers end up flattening their pitch. The resulting monotone is boring and, for some listeners, distracting. Try to let the pitch of your voice go up or down as it would in a normal conversation. • Articulation. Nervousness can accentuate sloppy pronunciation. If you want to say environment, don’t say envirament. A related problem occurs with technical words and phrases, especially the important ones. When a speaker uses a phrase over and over, it tends to get clipped and become difficult to understand. Unless you articulate carefully, Scanlon Plan will end up as Scanluhplah. • nonfluencies. Avoid such meaningless fillers as you know, like, okay, right, uh, and um. These phrases do not hide the fact that you aren’t saying anything. A thoughtful pause is better than an annoying verbal tic. USiNG yOUR BODy EFFECtivEly Besides listening to you, the audience will be looking at you. Effective speak- ers use their body language to help listeners follow the presentation. Facing an Audience as you give a presentation, keep in mind these four guidelines about physical movement. maintain eye contact. eye contact helps you see how the audience is receiving the presentation. you will see, for instance, if listeners in the back are having trou- ble hearing you. with small groups, look at each listener randomly; with larger groups, look at each segment of the audience frequently during your speech. do not stare at the screen, the floor, your notes, or out the window. use natural gestures. when people talk, they often gesture with their hands. Most of the time, gestures make a presentation look natural and improve listen- ers’ comprehension. you can supplement your natural gestures by using your arms and hands to signal pauses and to emphasize important points. when referring to graphics, walk toward the screen and point to direct the audience’s attention. avoid mannerisms—physical gestures that serve no useful purpose, such as jiggling the coins in your pocket or pacing back and forth. like verbal mannerisms, physical mannerisms are often unconscious. Constructive criticism from friends can help you pinpoint them. don’t block the audience’s view of the screen. stand off to the side of the screen. use a pointer to indicate key words or images on the screen. control the audience’s attention. People will listen to and look at anything that is interesting. if you hand out photocopies at the start of the presentation, some people will start to read them and stop listening to you. if you leave an image on the screen after you finish talking about it, some people will keep looking at it instead of listening to you. when you want the audience to look at you and listen to you, remove the graphics or make the screen blank. If your audience includes people of different cultures and native lan- guages, keep in mind the following three suggestions: • hire translators and interpreters if necessary. If many people in the audience do not understand your language, hire interpreters (people who translate your words as you speak them) and translators (people who translate your written material in advance). • use graphics effectively to reinforce your points for nonnative speakers. Try to devise ways to present information using graphics—flowcharts, diagrams, and so forth—to help your listeners understand you. Putting more textual information on graphics will allow your listeners to see as well as hear your points. • Be aware that gestures can have cultural meanings. As discussed in Chapter 12, American hand gestures (such as the thumbs-up sign or the “okay” gesture) have different—and sometimes insulting—meanings in other cultures. Therefore, it’s a good idea to avoid the use of these gestures. You can’t go wrong with an arms-out, palms-up gesture that projects openness and inclusiveness. Answering Questions After a presentation When you finish a presentation, thank the audience simply and directly: “Thank you for your attention.” Then invite questions. Don’t abruptly ask, “Any questions?” This phrasing suggests that you don’t really want any questions. Instead, say something like this: “If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to try to answer them now.” If invited politely, people will be much more likely to ask questions, and you will be more likely to succeed in com- municating your information effectively. When you respond to questions, you might encounter any of these four situations: • you’re not sure everyone heard the question. Ask if people heard it. If they didn’t, repeat or paraphrase it, perhaps as an introduction to your response: “Your question is about the efficiency of these three techniques.” Some speakers always repeat the question, which gives them an extra moment to prepare an answer. • you don’t understand the question. Ask for clarification. After responding, ask if you have answered the question adequately. • you have already answered the question during the presentation. Restate the answer politely. Begin your answer with a phrase such as the following: “I’m sorry I didn’t make that point clear in my talk. I wanted to explain how . . . .” Never insult an audience member by pointing out that you already answered the question. • A belligerent member of the audience rejects your response and insists on restating his or her original point. Politely offer to discuss the matter further after the presentation. If you are lucky, the person won’t continue to bore or annoy the rest of the audience. If it is appropriate to stay after the session to talk individually with mem- bers of the audience, offer to do so. EThiCs NoTE ANSwERiNG QUEStiONS hONEStly if an audience member asks a question to which you do not know the answer, admit it. sim- ply say, “i don’t know” or “i’m not sure, but i think the answer is . . . .” smart people know that they don’t know everything. if you have some ideas about how to find out the answer—by checking a particular reference source, for example—share them. if the question is obviously important to the person who asked it, you might offer to meet with him or her to discuss ways for you to provide a more complete response later, perhaps by email. sPEAKER’s ChECKLisT Did you analyze the speaking situation—the audience and purpose of the presentation? (p. 579) Did you determine how much information you can communicate in your allotted time? (p. 580) Did you choose an appropriate organizational pattern and determine what kinds of information to present? (p. 580) Did you create an outline? (p. 580) Did you plan your introduction and your conclusion?(p. 581) Does each presentation graphic have these five characteristics? It presents a clear, well-supported claim. (p. 583) It is easy to see. (p. 583) It is easy to read. (p. 583) It is simple. (p. 584) It is correct. (p. 585) In planning your graphics, did you consider the length of your presentation, your audience’s aptitude and experience, the size and layout of the room, and the equipment available? (p. 586) Did you plan your graphics to help the audience understand the organization of your presentation? (p. 588) Did you use language to signal advance organizers, summaries, and transitions? (p. 594) Did you choose language that is vivid and memorable?(p. 596) Did you rehearse your presentation several times with a tape recorder, video camera, or live audience? (p. 597)
Brochure: Design Elements of a Technical Document
Pages 254-255 Planning the design of Print and online documents In a typical day at work, you might produce a number of documents without having to worry about design at all. Blog posts, text messages, presentation slides and memos that use standard company templates—these applications and others present no design challenges either because you cannot design them or because you don’t have the authority to design them. You will, however, have a say in the design of many documents you pro- duce or to which you contribute. In a case like this, the first step in design- ing the document is to plan. Analyze your audience and purpose, and then determine your resources. ANAlyze yOUr AUDieNCe AND PUrPOSe Consider factors such as your readers’ knowledge of the subject, their atti- tudes, their reasons for reading, the way they will be using the document, and the kinds of tasks they will perform. For instance, if you are writing a benefits manual for employees, you know that few people will read it from start to finish but that many people will refer to it. Therefore, you should include accessing tools: a table of contents, an index, tabs, and so forth. Think too about your audience’s expectations. Readers expect to see certain kinds of information presented in certain ways. Try to fulfill those expectations. For example, hyperlinks on websites are often underscored and presented in blue type. If you are writing for multicultural readers, keep in mind that many aspects of design vary from one culture to another. In memos, letters, reports, and manuals, you may see significant differences in design practice. The best advice, therefore, is to study documents from the culture you are addressing. Here are a few design elements to look for: • Paper size. Paper size will dictate some aspects of your page design. If your document will be printed in another country, find out about standard paper sizes in that country. • typeface preferences. One survey found that readers in the Pacific Rim prefer sans-serif typefaces in body text, whereas Western readers prefer serif typefaces (Ichimura, 2001). • Color preferences. In China, for example, red suggests happiness, whereas in Japan it suggests danger. • text direction. If some members of your audience read from right to left but others read from left to right, you might arrange your graphics vertically, from top to bottom; everybody reads from top to bottom. Or you might use Arabic numerals to indicate the order in which items are to be read (Horton, 1993). Think, too, about your purpose or purposes. For example, imagine that you are opening a dental office and you want to create a website. The first question is What is the purpose of the site? It’s one thing to provide informa- tion on your hours and directions to the office. But do you also want to direct patients to high-quality dental information? To enable them to set up or change appointments? Ask you a question? Each of these purposes affects the design, whether the document is going to print or online. DeterMiNe yOUr reSOUrCeS Think about your resources of time, money, and equipment. Short, informal documents are usually produced in-house; more-ambitious projects are often subcontracted to specialists. If your organization has a technical-publications department, consult the people there about scheduling and budgeting. • time. What is your schedule? To come up with a sophisticated design you might need professionals at service bureaus or print shops or specialists in online production. These professionals can require weeks or months. • money. Can you afford professional designers, print shops, and online- content developers? Most managers would budget thousands of dollars to design an annual report but not an in-house newsletter. • equipment. Complex designs require graphics and web software, as well as layout programs. A basic laser printer can produce attractive documents in black and white, but you need a more expensive printer for high- resolution color.

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