Create a flyer as a PDF attachment

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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.

Respond to at least two of your classmates’ posts by Day 7. In your responses, highlight at least one specific technical element that your classmates designed well in the creation of their flyers and explain why. Constructive critique is also encouraged. Each response is required to meet or exceed 125 words.

Page 293

Find the websites of three manufacturers within a single industry, such as personal watercraft, cars, computers, or medical equipment. Study the three sites, focusing on one of these aspects of site design:

• use of color

• quality of Writing

• quality of site map or index

• navigation, including the clarity and placement of links to other pages in the site

• accommodation of multicultural readers

• accommodation of people with disabilities

• phrasing of the links

CASE 11: Designing a Flyer

Which of the three sites is most effective? Which is least

effective? Why? Compare and contrast the three sites in terms of their effectiveness.

5. Using a search engine, find a website that serves the needs of people with a physical disability (for example, the Glaucoma Foundation, www.glaucomafoundation .org). What attempts have the designers made to accommodate the needs of visitors to the site? How effective do you think those attempts have been?

Case 11: Designing a Flyer


As an employee in the educational information office in the U.S. Department of Education, you have been asked by your supervisor to design a flyer for international students hoping to complete graduate school in the United States. She’s given you a text document with all of the relevant information; it’s your job to turn that information into a visually appealing flyer that will catch students’ attention. Your supervisor has asked you to write her a memo before you begin, describing and defending the design you have in mind.

To get started designing your flyer, go to “Cases” under “Additional Resources” in Ch. 11:

(Markel 293)

Markel, Mike. Technical Communication, 11th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 12/2014. VitalBook file.

The citation provided is a guideline. Please check each citation for accuracy before use.

Pages 85-87 (88-89)

Before you can start to think about writing about your subject, analyze your audience and purpose. Doing so will help you meet your readers’ needs—and your own. For instance, you’re an engineer working for a consulting company. One document to which you might contribute is a report to the city planning board about how building a housing development would affect the natural environment as well as the city’s roads, schools, and sanitation infrastructure. That’s the subject of the report. The purpose is to motivate the planning board to approve the project so that it can begin. How does the audience affect how you analyze your purpose? You think about who the board members are. If most of them are not engineers, you don’t want to use specialized vocabulary and advanced engineering graphics and concepts. You don’t want to dwell on the technical details. Rather, you want to use general vocabulary, graphics, and concepts. You want to focus on the issues the board members are concerned about. Would the development affect the environment negatively? If so, is the developer including a plan to offset that negative effect? Can the roads handle the extra traffic? Can the schools handle the extra kids? Will the city have to expand its police force? Its fire department? Its sewer system?

In other words, when you write to the planning board, you focus on topics they are most interested in, and you write the document so that it is easy for them to read and understand. If the project is approved and you need to communicate with other audiences, such as architects and contractors, you will have different purposes, and you will adjust your writing to meet each audience’s needs.

What can go wrong when you don’t analyze your audience? McDonald’s Corporation found out when it printed takeout bags decorated with flags from around the world. Among them was the flag of Saudi Arabia, which contains scripture from the Koran. This was extremely offensive to Muslims, who consider it sacrilegious to throw out items bearing sacred scripture. As a result, McDonald’s lost public credibility.

Throughout this chapter, the text will refer to your reader and your document. But all of the information refers as well to oral presentations, which are the subject of Chapter 21, as well as to nonprint documents, such as podcasts or videos.

using an Audience profile sheet

As you read the discussions in this chapter about audience characteristics and techniques for learning about your audience, you might think about using an audience profile sheet: a form that prompts you to consider various audience characteristics as you plan your document. For example, the profile sheet can help you realize that you do not know much about your primary reader’s work history and what that history can tell you about how to shape your document. Figure 5.2 shows an audience profile sheet that provides important information about one of a writer’s most important readers.

(Markel 85)

Markel, Mike. Technical Communication, 11th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 12/2014. VitalBook file.

Page 86

An Audience Profile Sheet

Assume that you work in the drafting department of an architectural engineering firm. You know that the company’s computer-assisted design (CAD) software is out of date and that recent CAD technology would make it easier and faster for the draftspeople to do their work. You want to persuade your company to authorize buying a CAD workstation that costs about $4,000. To do so, you fill out an audience profile sheet for your primary reader, Harry Becker, the manager of your company’s Drafting and Design Department.

You should modify this form to meet your own needs and those of your organization. For a downloadable version of Fig. 5.2, go to Ch. 5 > Additional Resources > Downloadable Forms: /launchpad/techcomm11e.

(Markel 86)

Audience Profile Sheet

Reader’s Name: Harry Becker

Reader’s Job Title: Manager, drafting and design department

Kind of Reader: Primary __X___ Secondary _____

Education: BS, Architectural Engineering, Northwestern, 1992. CAD/CAM Short Course, 1992; Motivating your Employees Seminar, 1997; Writing on the Job Short Course, 2002

Professional experience: Worked for two years in a small architecture firm. Started here 16 years ago as a draftsperson. worked his way up to assistant Manager, then Manager. instrumental in the Wilson project, particularly in coordinating personnel and equipment.

Job Responsibilities: Supervises a staff of 12 drafts-people. Approves or denies all requests for capital expenditures over $2,000 coming from his department. Works with employees to help them make the best case for the purchase. After approving or denying the request, forwards it to Tina buterbaugh, Manager, Finance Dept., who maintains all capital expenditure records.

Personal Characteristics: N/A

Personal Preferences: Likes straightforward documents, lots of evidence, clear structure. Dislikes complicated documents full of jargon.

Cultural Characteristics: Nothing of note.

Attitude Toward the Writer: No problems.

Attitude Toward the Subject: He understands and approves of my argument.

Expectations About the Subject: Expects to see a clear argument with financial data and detailed comparisons of available systems.

Expectations About the Document: Expects to see a report, with an executive summary, of about 10 pages.

Reasons for Reading the Document: To offer suggestions and eventually approve or deny the request.

Way of Reading the Document: Skim it ____ Study it __X__ Read a portion of it __which portion? Modify it and submit it to another reader ____ attempt to implement recommendations ____ use it to perform a task or carry out a procedure ____

use it to create another document ____

other ____ explain.

Reading Skill: Excellent Reader’s

Physical environment: N/A

Page 87

If your document has several readers, you must decide whether to fill out only one sheet (for your most important reader) or several sheets. One technique is to fill out sheets for one or two of your most important readers and one for each major category of other readers. For instance, you could fill out one sheet for your primary reader, Harry Becker; one for managers in other areas of your company; and one for readers from outside your company.

When do you fill out an audience profile sheet? Although some writers like to do so at the start of the process as a way to prompt themselves to consider audience characteristics, others prefer to do so at the end of the process as a way to help themselves summarize what they have learned about their audience. Of course, you can start to fill out the sheet before you begin and then complete it or revise it at the end.

Determining the Important characteristics of Your Audience

When you analyze the members of your audience, you are trying to learn what you can about their technical background and knowledge, their reasons for reading or listening to you, their attitudes and expectations, and how they will use the information you provide.

Who are your readers

For each of your most important readers, consider six factors:

The reader’s education. Think not only about the person’s degree but also about when the person earned the degree. A civil engineer who earned a BS in 1995 has a much different background than a person who earned the same degree in 2015. Also consider any formal education or training the person completed while on the job.

Knowing your reader’s educational background helps you determine how much supporting material to provide, what level of vocabulary to use, what kind of sentence structure to use, what types of graphics to include, how long your document should be, and whether to provide such elements as a glossary or an executive summary.

The reader’s professional experience. A nurse with a decade of experience might have represented her hospital on a community committee to encourage citizens to give blood and might have contributed to the planning for the hospital’s new delivery room. These experiences would have provided several areas of competence or expertise that you should consider as you plan your document.

The reader’s job responsibility. Consider the major job responsibility of your reader and how your document will help that person accomplish it. For example, if you are writing a feasibility study on ways to cool the air for a new office building and you know that your reader, an upper-level manager, oversees operating expenses, you should explain how you are estimating future utility costs.

The reader’s personal characteristics. The reader’s age might suggest how he or she will read and interpret your document. Because a senior manager at age 60 might know less about a current technology than a 30-year-old manager does, you might need to describe that technology in greater detail for the senior manager. Does your reader have any other personal characteristics, such as impaired vision, that affect the way you write and design your document?

The reader’s personal preferences. One person might hate to see the first- person pronoun I in technical documents. Another might find the word interface distracting when the writer isn’t discussing computers. Does your reader prefer one type of application (such as blogs or memos) over another? Try to accommodate as many of your reader’s preferences as you can.

The reader’s cultural characteristics. Understanding cultural characteristics can help you appeal to your reader’s interests and avoid confusing or offending him or her. As discussed later in this chapter (p. 95), cultural characteristics can affect virtually every aspect of a reader’s comprehension of a document and perception of the writer.

Why is Your Audience Reading Your Document?

For each of your most important readers, consider why he or she will read your document. Some writers find it helpful to classify readers into categories— such as primary, secondary, and tertiary—that identify each reader’s distance from the writer. Here are some common descriptions of these three categories of readers:

• A primary audience consists of people to whom the communication is directed; they may be inside or outside the writer’s own organization. For example, they might include the writer’s team members, who assisted in carrying out an analysis of a new server configuration for the IT department; the writer’s supervisor, who reads the analysis to decide whether to authorize its main recommendation to adopt the new configuration; and an executive, who reads it to determine how high

a priority the server project should have on a list of projects to fund. If you were producing text or videos for the Hewlett-Packard website, your primary audience would include customers, vendors, and suppliers who visit the site.

• A secondary audience consists of people more distant from the writer who need to stay aware of developments in the organization but who will not directly act on or respond to the document. Examples include managers of other departments, who are not directly involved in the project but who need to be aware of its broad outlines, and representatives from the marketing and legal departments, who need to check that the document conforms to the company’s standards and practices and with relevant legal standards, such as antidiscrimination or intellectual-property laws. External readers who are part of a secondary audience might include readers of your white paper who are not interested in buying your product but who need to stay current with the new products in the field.

• A tertiary audience consists of people even further removed from the writer who might take an interest in the subject of the report. Examples include interest groups (such as environmental groups or other advocacy organizations); local, state, and federal government officials; and, if the report is made public, the general public. Even if the report is not intended to be distributed outside the organization, given today’s climate of information access and the ease with which documents can be distributed, chances are good that it will be made available to outsiders.

Regardless of whether you classify your readers using a scheme such as this, think hard about why the most important audience members will read your document. Don’t be content to list only one purpose. Your direct supervisor, for example, might have several purposes that you want to keep in mind:

• to learn what you have accomplished in the project

• to determine whether to approve any recommendations you present

• to determine whether to assign you to a follow-up team that will work on the next stage of the project

• to determine how to evaluate your job performance next month

You will use all of this information about your audience as you determine the ways it affects how you will write your document or plan your presentation. In the meantime, write the information down so that you can refer to it later.

What are Your Readers Attitudes and Expectations?

In thinking about the attitudes and expectations of each of your most important readers, consider these three factors:

• Your reader’s attitude toward you. Most people will like you because you are hardworking, intelligent, and cooperative. Some won’t. If a reader’s animosity toward you is irrational or unrelated to the current project, try to earn that person’s respect and trust by meeting him or her on some neutral ground, perhaps by discussing other, less volatile projects or some shared interest, such as gardening, skiing, or science-fiction novels.

• Your reader’s attitude toward the subject. If possible, discuss the subject thoroughly with your primary readers to determine whether they are positive, neutral, or negative toward it. Here are some basic strategies for responding to different attitudes.

Markel, Mike. Technical Communication, 11th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 12/2014. VitalBook file.

The citation provided is a guideline. Please check each citation for accuracy before use.

Pages 254-255

Notice that you do not have to use a strikingly different color to show contrast. The human brain can easily tell the difference between the pale blue and the navy blue of the other boxes.

For more about analyzing your audience, see Ch. 5. For more about tables of contents, see Ch. 18, p. 480.

Figure 11.4

Effective Use of Contrast

This portion of a web page shows effective use of color contrast in the five navigation boxes. The pale blue screen behind the word “Impact” helps visitors see which portion of the site they are viewing. Source: U.S. Department of State, 2013b:

More clearly against 8-point type than against 12-point type; and why information printed in a color, such as red, grabs readers’ attention when the information 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 produce or to which you contribute. In a case like this, the first step in designing the document is to plan. Analyze your audience and purpose, and then determine your resources.

Analyze Your Audience and Resources

Consider factors such as your readers’ knowledge of the subject, their attitudes, 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 information 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.

(Markel 256)

Markel, Mike. Technical Communication, 11th Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 12/2014. VitalBook file.

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