Organizational Strategies Decide on an organizational strategy prior to writing Experiment with different approaches Hybrid approaches: –Blend two or more strategies –Shift organizational strategies
Organizational Strategies Sequential Chronological Order of Importance General / Specific Division Comparison / Contrast Spatial
Sequential Place information in an order that it progresses or should progress Moves readers through information from beginning to end in a linear fashion Hints, use: –numbered lists –transitional words (e.g., first, then, next, etc.). –sequence guide words (e.g., step, part, phase, segment, etc.) accompanied by an identifier and/or description (e.g., Task 1: Creating an Account)
Chronological Sequential process, but the sequence is related to time Asks readers to move through information from beginning to end in a linear fashion Hints, use: –same hints as the sequential strategy –timeline –flowchart Columbine on Wikipedia –In what ways does the use of chronological strategy help or hinder the information?
Order of Importance Commonly used in technical descriptions Allows writers to emphasize and deemphasize information Increasing order of importance –Begin with least important –Emphasizes the most important point by allowing the less important pieces to build up to the most important Decreasing order of importance –Begin with most important –Ensures that the reader is immediately made aware of the most important aspect of the document
General / Specific Progressing from general to specific information or from specific to general information General to specific (deductive) –The general provides the background, scope, and context for the more specific details –Allows the writer to make a general statement and then support that statement through specific examples –Abstracts and executive summaries Specific to general (inductive) –Move from specific examples to more general principles and theories –Journalistic writing
Division Based on the idea that some things can best be understood by treating them as a series of smaller parts Allows a writer to divide and subdivide: –Ideas –Objects Requires writers to understand the relationships among the parts and the way they make up the whole Hints: –Use images to depict how the parts make up the wholeimages –Use lists to identify the parts of the whole –Group similar parts together (classification system)
Comparison / Contrast Allows readers to consider how items relate to one another Compare/contrast possible solutions to a problem Two presentation styles: –Comparison of the wholes –Comparison of the parts (point-by-point) Importance of ethics –Present all options in the same light –Don’t skew –Present information clearly & accurately –Don’t deemphasize or overemphasize criteria
Spatial Readers navigate information pertaining to physical space Highlight information on a map Covers areas and moves in a direction Often relies on images to clarify spatial information for readers
Task Analysis Write a paragraph that explains how you envision your audience will use your technical description. Imagine that you were looking over his/her shoulder. –What would you see? –How do you envision your reader reading? –Under what circumstances is your reader reading? –How can your organizational style and choice of details support that activity?
Reference Chapter 6: “Organizing and Drafting Documents” Technical Communication in the Twenty-First Century by: Sidney Dobrin, Christopher Keller, Christian Weisser