Hello Technical Communication Online Students,
Hello—my name is Michael Hricik. I will be teaching the Technical Communication course online. The
contact information is on the course syllabus. With an online course in particular, I will respond to your questions
quickly. I like to do this so that you can keep up with the course.
To log in, go to and then type in your log in and password. You will find instructions at the
web site. You will then click on Blackboard and go to the site.
You can either e-mail me your work as an e-mail attachment to or There a help menu in Blackboard in case you need help or there is a technical
support number to call at WCCC. Look there for help.
I have a suggestion for you. The last report of the term is a Consumer Report. If you are thinking about
buying a new vehicle, some type of exercise equipment, a new camera, or just about anything else in 2013, then
you can gather pamphlets, brochures, and Internet information along the way. You will need a minimum of six
sources for this last report, so if you work on it slowly, you will have them in no time. Some people say that women
are the more natural shoppers. However, I say that isn’t always true. If you have a person from either gender shop
for something that he/she likes, then it is a pleasure.
By the way, if you complete your Consumer Report two weeks early, you will get an additional twenty points
on it, which would be Friday, July 19. If you complete it one week early, which would be Friday, July 26, you get an
additional ten points. Last day to submit is Friday, August 2nd at midnight.
I can tell you with all sincerity that this will be one of the best courses that you will ever take. It’s not
because I am teaching—the nature of the course is so beneficial. You will use all sorts of techniques from this class
professionally and personally. Well, enough said for now. Here’s to a productive semester.
Michael Hricik
Professor of English
ENG 162-W1, W2, AND W3
General Information
Course Name:
Technical Communications
Course Number:
ENG 162
Summer 2014
Michael Hricik, Professor of English
Founders Hall Room 403
Office Hours:
By Appointment
Phone Extension:
(724) 925-4275 (Office). You can also phone me at
toll-free 1-800-262-2103 (ext 4275)
Phone Rings 24 Hours Daily—You can leave a message as well
(724) 547-0803 (Residence) (724) 757-9296 (Cell Phone)
E-mail or
College FAX
I check both of them daily
(724) 925-4036 This is the fax in my office and it’s always on.
Catalog Description
This course stresses the practical application of skills central to all types of communications technical
personnel are called upon to use in their daily work. The course includes training in the writing of
resumes, job applications, basic business letters, job related forms and the technical report, proofreading
and editing, research methods, reading in the technical field, development of listening skills, and
interacting in discussion and problem-solving groups.
General Course Objectives]
The student will at the completion of the course be able to:
develop writing skills to meet the needs of the technical writing situation.
recognize forms of internal and external communication.
acquire a working knowledge of the report process.
describe the special characteristics of technical documents, such as creating a style sheet,
formatting documents, and integrating visual aids.
utilize communication skills necessary to the production of technical communication.
Learning Outcomes
The student will have the necessary knowledge and skills to:
1. develop writing skills to meet the needs of the technical writing situation.
 use patterns of writing with specific application to the technical field in which he or she is
working, studying, or possessing knowledge or interest.
 edit documents created in various formats.
 select words effectively based on audience and purpose.
 identify appropriate format and design based on audience.
2. recognize forms of internal and external communication.
 create technical correspondence in the forms of letters and memorandums.
 design a resume highlighting skills, experience, and education appropriate for a specific position.
 utilize problem-solving techniques in the planning and preparing of a set of instructions.
 design a document based on the needs of different readers
3. acquire a working knowledge of the report process.
 integrate problem-solving techniques in preparing a proposal.
 construct reports, such as progress or incident reports, relating to his or her technical field.
 utilize and understand the use of technology in presenting technical information accurately.
 apply the correct MLA or APA Style to their documents and research.
4. describe the special characteristics of technical documents, such as creating a style sheet, formatting
documents, and integrating visual aids.
 employ use of visuals as well as layout and design for the purpose of enhancement and clarity of
presentation of ideas and information in written documents.
 create visual information to clarify and enhance oral presentations.
 apply the principles of format, layout, and design to clarify and enhance presentation of
 prepare a style sheet for specific documents.
5. utilize communication skills necessary to the production of technical communication.
 select, read, summarize, and effectively evaluate pertinent publications in his or her technical
 demonstrate the appropriate use of principles of oral communication in the expression of
ideas and information.
 participate as a member of a group of peers engaged in a cooperative effort on a common
 provide necessary feedback to improve, refine, and enhance technical information.
Course Outline
Defining Technical Communications
Communications: Internal and External
Collaborative Writing
Group Work
Problem-Solving Techniques
Group Dynamics and Collaboration
Technical Writing Style
Drafting and Planning
Purposeful Revision
Technical Periodicals and Journals
Documentation: MLA and APA
A Discussion of Planning, Developing, and Organizing Source Information
Exercises on Selecting and Citing Sources
Differences in two Documentation Styles
The Role of Visuals in Technical Documents
Document Design
The Progress Report
Report Writing: Formal and Informal
Texts Used
Pfeiffer, William S. Technical Communication: A Practical Approach. 8th ed. Upper Saddle River,
N.J.: Prentice Hall, 2013.
We switched textbooks in fall 2012. If you have the 7th edition, you still can use it, though the
8th edition will be more specific. You can purchase this book at the WCCC Book Store. If you live at a
distance, a book can be mailed to you. Some students in my summer classes have also purchased
textbooks at or You need this book early in the term. We will use it
every week. The software card that comes with the book gives you additional supplemental info. It also
has the e-book on it, which is the electronic version of our book.
You also can purchase this book in e-book format from the WCCC Book Store. That means you have
access to the book in electronic format for one year.
If you buy a new book or an e-book, you have access to which is a
supplemental web site that the publisher of our textbook has said will be improved starting in January
2013. You will not be required to use this site for this class, but I do want to make you aware that it is
available. It has supplemental info from the chapters and other helpful sites.
Required Equipment
Equipment: Computers are available in the computer labs. The lab assistants can tell you how to enter
your password if you are using the computers for the first time. Please note that if you
live near the Youngwood campus, or one of the education centers for WCCC, you
can use any of the computer labs especially if your home computer is not
Furnished by the Student:
Notebook and Folder (keep all of your work to track your grade)
Dictionary – This dictionary should be current and on the college level. Make sure to
proofread and spellcheck. Spelling is so critical in technical writing for accuracy.
VC 697 Writing Across Technology
VC 1018 Technical Writing Process
VC 2495 and 2496 on Business and Technical Writing
Available in the Library
Please be aware also that as a student you have access to tutors in the College Learning Center (FH 560),
the WCCC Reference Librarians (724) 925-4100, and WCCC Placement Services with resume and job
placement help with Cheri Noel at and Career Counseling with Tom Steiner at
Classroom procedures
Attendance and Class Procedures
You should check your grades after each assignment to ensure accuracy. If you believe
that there is an error in a grade, it is your responsibility to contact me.
Students withdrawing prior to midterm will receive a “W” grade. After midterm, a “W’ grade
will only be issued if a student is passing. Be aware that if you withdraw before the end of the
semester, it could affect your financial aid. You need 12 credits to be a full-time student.
Any form of plagiarism discovered by the instructor will result in serious academic
consequences for the student (as noted in the Student Handbook). I will notify you if I detect plagiarism
on your part.
Grading Procedures
Assignments must be submitted on the due date, unless an extension has been granted in
advance. An assignment submitted late will have the original grade reduced by one letter grade for each
week that it is late (these points can’t be made up once lost).
All assignments must be submitted either early on the date that they are due in order to receive
credit towards the final grade. If you have an emergency on the day that an assignment is due, you are
required to e-mail me or phone me at (724) 925-4275. You will automatically get an extension until the
next class day. If an assignment would be due on Friday, the next class day would be Monday.
All work is due by midnight.
Formats for papers will vary and depend upon the type of document being produced. Any paper
requiring a cover page should include the following information.
Constants include the following:
Use one side of the paper only.
Material will be typewritten.
The following information will appear in the left-hand corner of page one:
ENG 162-W1
Mr. Hricik
Date of Assignment
Center the title or name of the assignment, but only capitalize the first letter of each word.
No need to capitalize conjunctions, prepositions, etc.
Title of Assignment
Paper Evaluation:
The point value for each paper will be given as it is assigned. A criteria sheet will be given which
will be followed by a discussion of instructor expectations. There will be two major areas considered for
each paper: content and mechanics.
Course Grade
Evaluation of Instructions
Paper—Consumer Report
Written Instructions
Memos & Letters
Summary Assignment
Discussion Board Postings
25 points
100 points
100 points
50 points
25 points
50 points
75 points (approximately)
I just want to give you an idea of the types of assignments we will be doing.
Breakdown of the grading scale:
90-100 = A
Below 60 = F
Course Schedule
Many assignments will be completed in class. Homework will be due as indicated on the syllabus or
given in class.
June 9th
Intro, Writing Sample, Syllabus Review
Focus on the Top Down Format
Defining Technical Communication
TC Reading
Defining Technical Writing: For Wednesday, Read Chapter 1 (pages 2-18). This
chapter gives helpful background info on legal and ethical considerations in technical
Electronic Communication: Read Chapter 6 (pages 167-73). We cover this
information twice since it is so critical.
Work Due
First assignments given due by midnight on Friday, June 13th:
Assignment One: You will need to write what two or three friends or family
members think of you.
Assignment Two: Writing Assignment on email will be given. Explained in
Assignments. You need to read several web sites and then write me an effective
e-mail based on what the web sites said. You also need to use specific points of
criteria for the assignment, which I have given.
Information Sheet: You will need to submit an Information Sheet on yourself.
June 16th
Emphasis on Style, Format, and Emphasis in Document Design
TC Reading
Process in Technical Communication: Read Chapter 2 (pages 36-54).
This Chapter looks at the planning elements involved in technical communication. The
planning form on page 39 is also on the inside of the back cover of the book. There is
also a handbook on pages 658-88 in the book. Please refer to that throughout the
Collaboration and Writing: Read Chapter 3 (pages 60-80). Especially review pages
72-80. Work on Communication Challenge on pages 81-82 if there is time in-class.
Work Due
1. Discussion Boards #1 & 1a Due by Friday, June 20th. With #1 that is revising
sentences. With #1a the first posting will be due Wednesday, June 18th and the
second posting will be due on Friday, June 20th.
2. Evaluation of a shopping experience due by Friday, June 20th.
June 23rd
Primary and Secondary Audience
Emphasis on Style, Format, and Emphasis in Document Design
TC Reading
Organizing Information: Read Chapter 4 (pages 89-104).
Make sure to read this chapter closely (especially look at pages 90-94 on the redundant,
repetitive nature of technical writing, especially for longer reports). The top-down
pattern in technical communication is defined on the bottom of page 93-94. Make sure to
carefully read several times. Carefully read the ABC Format on pages 93-97. Read the
information on Paragraphs on pages 100-02 twice (Look at information on paragraph
length & the use of numbers and lists). In this edition of the book there is an added
section on organizing digital documents on pages 102-04. Carefully read pages 636-45
on clear and accurate sentence-level writing. Paragraph and sentence level writing are
really stressed consistently in this course. The supplemental examples at the end of the
chapters should always be explored.
Work Due
1. Discussion Board 2 Due . First posting due Wednesday, June 25th. Second
Posting due Friday, June 27th.
June 30th
Friday, June 27th Summary of sources for Consumer Report. You need six-eight
sources in this paper. For the summary of sources, you will need to locate six
sources. E-mail to me.
Reading and Staying Current in a Technical Field.
Types of Periodicals and Journals.
TC Reading
Skim Appendix (pages 669-701) on documentation styles.
Document Design: Read Chapter 5 (pages 118-141).
Formatting Reports and Proposals: Read Chapter10 (pages 301-24).
Mainly make sure to review pages 306-10 on informal proposals pages 303-09, which
are more common. Remember, a proposal is just that—something that you are planning
to complete. A proposal is just the starting point. Pages 313-24 covers formal proposals.
Work Due
1. Assignment Due by midnight Friday, July 4th: Evaluate Effective and Ineffective
Instructions (Worth 25 Points).
In about 2 d/s typed or written pages each, I would like you to write about the worst and
best instructions (or directions) you’ve ever received with something you bought. In one
document, write about the worst instructions. In another document, write about the best
instructions—briefly explain what you liked/disliked. In my own case, the worst
instructions I have ever received were for a portable gas grill. By far, the best were for a
bookcase from Ikea.
2. Discussion Board 3 Due Friday, July 4th. A brief proposal of your Consumer Report
will be due this week. Guidelines will be given to you for the proposal. Report is
worth 100 points. Need a minimum of 6 sources and report is due the last week of
class. A proposal is just a starting point. It is subject to change. It helps your reader
know what you intend to do. Report due at the end of the semester.
3. Assign Summary Assignment & complete summaries from your own discipline (50
points) due by midnight on Friday, July 11th
July 7th
Comparison of a Concept, Process, and Oral/Written Instructions
TC Reading
Process Explanations and Instructions: Read Chapter 8 (pages 216-33) for Wednesday.
Make sure to read this chapter at least twice, though more would be helpful. Pay
close attention to pages 223-33 on written instructions.
Work Due
Discussion Board 4 on Written Instructions Due Friday, July 11th.
2. Summary Assignment Due Friday, July 11th.
July 14th
Ethics and Ethical Concerns
Nonverbal and Verbal Communications based on Culture, Country, and Gender
TC Reading
Pages and Writing for the Web: For Wednesday read Chapter 14 (pages 526-53).
Look at the Web Planning Form on page 529.
This chapter is very informative.
Work Due
1. Friday, July 18th Resume Assignment and using (worth 25
Cheri Noel of the WCCC Career Placement Center can also be of assistance to you in
this regard. You can schedule an appointment with her at 1-800-262-2103 (ext.
4058) or
2. Do memos & letters package (worth 50 points). Work on a problem intersection,
delivering bad news, and writing a persuasive letter. First letter due Monday, July
14th Second letter due Monday, July 21st
3. Assign written instructions document (worth 100 points) Friday, July 25th.
July 21st
More Information on Written Various Internal and External Documents
TC Reading
Correspondence: Read Chapter 6 (pages 152-74). Developing the direct and indirect
approach in letters, memos, and email. Delivering bad news effectively.
Especially read from pages 167-74 on writing effective e-mail (We are reading this
section twice).
So much communication I receive is in the form of e-mail. In reviewing new textbooks
for classes, much of the communication takes place through e-mail. For the last two
vehicles I purchased, e-mail was the primary form of communication for the transactions
Work Due
1. Letter Two due Monday, July 21st.
2. Written instructions document (worth 100 points). Due Friday, July 25th.
3. Discussion Board 5 due by Friday, July 25th.
July 28th
Using Graphics and Visuals in Technical Communication
Graphics: Skim Chapter 13 (pages 480-518). Especially review pages 432-40.
The Job Search: Read Chapter 16 pages 598-632 on resumes, etc.
Chapter 9: Technical Research. APA, MLA, and Other Documentation. Our textbook
only gives brief coverage to these topics. I would suggest that you consult and look in Research and MLA and APA Documentation. This is
the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University and they cover documentation very well.
This site also has excellent information on technical and business writing. We just added
the handbook to this course and the handbook does a much better job than our
textbook on MLA and APA Documentation.
Focus Further on Concept, Process, and Instructions
Use of Primary and Secondary Sources. Primary sources are those that you gather
yourself and secondary are those that another person has gathered and you use.
Work Due
1. Consumer Report Due by midnight on Friday, August 1st.
2. Discussion Board 7 Due by midnight on Friday, August 1st on the Consumer Report
Final Comments.