Updating a handout I originally wrote in 1998. #tech #writing

A mechanism description analyzes (that is, subdivides into components for further scrutiny) an object in space. When you try to organize your major subsections, if no other obvious pattern seems appropriate, you can always fall back on the more-important-to-less-important strategy. Don’t sell the object. A technical writer is not required to persuade the reader that the object is wonderful, or valuable, or scary. But do mention the details. While you shouldn’t say an object…

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Commentary: What My Struggling Students Wanted Me to Understand

I haven’t taught a developmental course at SHU, but when I teach freshman writing, I often encounter students who struggle with the transition from high school to college writing. Those who were praised all their lives as good writers can tell good personal stories, and they can deploy accurate summaries of non-controversial, “correct” facts. I give them free reign to pick any topic they wish, asking them to demonstrate their ability…

Revisiting a Website I Created in 1996: Engineering Writing Centre (University of Toronto)

During the Christmas break of 1996, when I was working on my Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, I asked my boss at the Engineering Writing Center if I could log about 10 hours converting a bunch of paper handouts into hyperlinked web documents. I actually put in about 20 hours, and slapped into shape the first rough version of the website. The oldest archive I can find is from…