Student Portfolios Guides Examples Software About this Course Objectives Assignments

Technical Writing
schedule of classes

English 305.01 • Fall 2001 • MWF 11:00-11:50 • Coulter 105
Dr. Mary Adams • Office: Coulter 409 • Hours: MWF 10-11, and by appointment
Phone: 227-3921 on campus. 


M. Jimmie Killingsworth and Jacqueline Palmer. Information in Action: A Guide to Technical Communication. 2nd edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1999. (rental)
Meade, Jim. RoboHELP for Dummnies. (purchase)
Sabin, William. The Gregg Reference Manual. 9th edition.  (purchase)

Guides and Resources:



Course Description:

This course is an intensive introduction to technical writing. It is designed for students who may have writing experience but no technical training or for students who have technical backgrounds but need to learn to write effectively about technical subjects. In this course you will learn to write for audiences who want clear explanations about complicated processes or concepts.

You will begin with basic business and technical communications and move quickly toward technical reports, manuals, and proposals. You will learn to use computer spreadsheets, databases, and presentation software to produce technical documents. You will learn to work collaboratively and effectively on real-world technical projects. Your final collaborative effort will be an interactive help application designed with RoboHELP, one of the leading Web Help applications. 

When you finish this course, you will have an impressive portfolio of work that will demonstrate your writing ability, your ability to work in groups, and your competency in a wide range of computer applications. You will have completed a professional resume, created two separate web pages, and c onducted a job search to illustrate your potential as an employee.


  • By the end of the semester you should have a working familiarity with Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, Netscape Navigator, basic HTML, and the fundamentals of Web page construction. You will also become familiar with Web HELP applications. 
  • You should also be able to write technical communications clearly and without error for a variety of audiences and purposes.
  • You should be able to collaborate effectively on technical communications projects as a team member.
  • You will create a personal resume, cover letter, professional portfolio, and home pages.
  • You should be able to edit your own and others’ writing for grammar, emphasis, voice, clarity, and grace.
  • You should know how create and publish technical documents using a variety of genres, including reports, instructions, audience analysis, assessments, proposals, manuals, and information sheets.
  • You will create a portfolio of your work which will incorporate all the work done for the class.
  • You will carry out the tasks expected of you by our clients.
  • 50%: Individual assignments (exercises, minutes, resume (print and HTML), job letter, audience-action analysis, white paper, instruction set (paper and RoboHELP)
  • 40%: Linked Group assignments (Report--feasability study or purchase recommendation; Proposal--plan to solve a problem or funding request; Documentation; Interactive tutorial or help file)
  • 10%: work log; final assessment, portfolio 
Course Structure:

The class will meet in the computer classroom in Coulter 105, and you will be expected to do almost all of your work on a computer. Because the class is to be run like a business, you are responsible to our customers, to others you work with, and to your supervisor (me). You should notify your team if you are going to miss a class. If you miss more than three classes, you will lose 5 points. If you do not meet your obligations to your team, you will not receive full credit for the work.

I take assignments seriously. I expect your writing assignments to be written as clearly as possible and without error.  If you have a project, do what your team needs you to do and do it the best you can do. If you need help, just ask for it. I will also expect you to read about 40-60 pages from week to week.

Policies and Requirements:

  • You must have completed Composition 101 and 102.
  • You must have a computer account.Go to Forsythe basement if you do not know your password or if your account has been disabled.
  • You will need to provide at least two diskettes (IBM format) to save your work.You can also use a zip disk. Label all your disks with your name and contact information. 
  • More than 3 absences for any reason will lower your grade a minimum of 5 points per absence.
  • Late assignments will not be accepted!
  • Misspelled words and mechanical errors will not be permitted in documents for the public.
  • Papers marked "Revise" must be revised before they receive a final grade.
  • You will be required to work in a team and collaborate in your work. You will evaluate your team’s work and the work of your team members.
  • The class is structured as a workshop. Consequently your work will be examined publicly.
  • Participation and cooperation with others can add as much as 10 points to your final grade.
  • Your final project will be to assemble a career portfolio in two attractive notebooks. 
  • Do not use special software packages without asking me.