Engineering Transportation

Designing Usable Texts by Thomas M. Duffy, Robert Waller

By Thomas M. Duffy, Robert Waller

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Many different sorts of documents meet this description, including directions for putting a widget together, eligibility requirements for tuition aid, and insurance policies. These informative documents are not designed primarily to entertain, to be aesthetically pleasing, or to be newsworthy. WHAT ARE THE WRITING CAPABILITIES OF THESE AUTHORS? This question can only be partially answered because much of the research to answer it has not been done. Extensive comparative profiles of backgrounds and abilities of writers in different companies and industries have yet to be systematically compiled.

Their subjects included both expert writers (teachers of writing who had received fellowships to study writing) and novice writers (college students with writing problems). Flower and Hayes found that the expert writers made reference to the audience more than twice as often as novice writers, and that the experts spent much more time thinking about and commenting on the rhetorical problem. The expert writers also represented the rhetorical problem in much more breadth and depth. The conclusions were that experts interpret writing tasks differently than novices do and that experts solve a qualitatively different rhetorical problem.

In L. W. Gregg & E. R. ). New Jersey: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, pp 129— 137 Wright, P. (March 1981). Five skills technical writers need. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, Vol. PC-24, No. 1, pp 10-16 Wright, P. (1980). Usability: The criterion for designing written information. In P. A. Kolers, M. E. Wrolstad and H. ) Processing of visible language (Vol 2). New York: Plenum, pp 183-205 CHAPTER 3 Training Authors of Informative Documents DANIEL B. FELKER JANICE C. REDISH JANE PETERSON INTRODUCTION Our task in this chapter is to say something useful about training authors who write material of practical value to the real world.

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