Technical and Professional Writing Genres: A Study in Theory and Practice
Eric Howerton, Oklahoma State University
Michael Beilfuss, Missouri Southern State University
Katrina Peterson, Roswell, New Mexico
Copyright Year: 2019
Publisher: Oklahoma State University
Conditions of Use
The title suggests the textbook book offers a genre-driven exploration of technical and professional writing (TPW). On the whole, the textbook delivers on this promise. It is divided into two sections: the first describes the foundational... read more
The title suggests the textbook book offers a genre-driven exploration of technical and professional writing (TPW). On the whole, the textbook delivers on this promise. It is divided into two sections: the first describes the foundational principles of TPW while the second outlines how those strategies are used within the most common TPW genres, such as instructions, proposals, and reports. Also addressed are additional genres that are crucial for accomplishing the work of TPW, such as correspondence (e.g., email) and writing for the hiring process (e.g., resumes). The textbook does not cover genres such as flyers, websites, or social media; this is not surprising given the explicit focus of the textbook. That being said, TPW writing style in the textbook is given little attention--just a few short paragraphs. This is surprising considering the extent to which the book purports to be an introduction to TPW; most students encountering this text, therefore, would have had little guidance in understanding how TPW writing style differs from the academic writing style they have been trained in for most of their educational lives. Overall, though, instructors who choose this text may be able to rely on it in their TPW courses (introductory, at least) to a significant extent.
The textbook offers theoretical frameworks and practical applications that are in keeping with TPW as a scholarly discipline and professional field.
TPW is intertwined with technology, but references to technology in this textbook are a mixed bag in terms of their currency. For instance, the chapter on ethics is very current, as it helps TPW students navigate the use of online sources in ways they may not have considered in previous writing courses. But, the sections on email and text messages could be updated so that they speak more authentically to today's college students and the ways in which email, video conferencing, chat, and social media messages have become central to our personal and professional lives post-COVID-19. The chapter on resumes and cover letters could be updated to be more relevant to the needs and expectations of today's job seekers.
For the most part, the text is written with accessible language, and in this way, the text models plain language, a mainstay of PTW. At times, language can become somewhat esoteric or "academic."
Terminology is used consistently throughout the text and is in keeping with conventions of the field.
The text easily lends itself to modular use, which is a boon for TPW instructors who are using OER in their courses. NB: The topics of "design" and "research" appear to be organized within (discrete) chapters, but they also are addressed at length in other parts of the textbook. This does not detract from the overall modularity of this textbook, in my view.
The textbook's structure is logical; this is especially true of the early chapters, which introduce students to the field (i.e., purpose, basic tenets). Still, because the book is highly modular, it can easily be reordered to suit an individual instructor's pedagogical needs.
For most computer users, the interface is clean and easy to navigate. Collapsible menus allow users to easily navigate to specific areas of the textbook. The textbook occasionally utilizes internal links to allow navigation to related content in another chapter. An important note: Instructional graphics and some short sample documents (e.g., submittal letter) are embedded in the textbook as images (.png) while lengthier student sample documents open to web-accessible PDFs that are supported by a university library system. The non-decorative images (graphics and short sample documents) embedded in the text do not appear to have alt text added to them. Some PDFs do not appear to be optimized for screen readers.
This text models good writing in terms of grammar.
The textbook is inclusive and respectful in terms of its use of language, sample document content, and suggested exercises. However, the textbook does not extensively address how TPW practitioners can be inclusive and respectful in their own use of language. Inclusiveness as it relates to document design is addressed in detail, though.
Relevant, useful, and meaningful practice activities are included in the textbook; many seem lend themselves well to in-class work (think-pair-share). Sometimes, these activities are not always listed in each chapter's table of contents.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Audience
Chapter 3: Team Work and Collaborative Writing
Chapter 4: Ethics
Chapter 5: Document Design
II. Genres and Practice
Chapter 6: Emails, Memos, and Texting
Chapter 7: Applying to Jobs (Resumes/Letters)
Chapter 8: Technical Instructions
Chapter 9: Proposals
Chapter 10: Research
Chapter 11: Analytical Reports
Chapter 12: Oral Reports
Appendix: Technical Instructions -- Additional Student Examples
About the Book
This modern, open-source guide to technical and professional writing explores workplace composition through theoretical and practical applications. Discussions of multiple writing genres will assist you in understanding how to apply for jobs, how to compose clear and precise business communications once the job has been acquired, and how to create documents -- such as proposals and reports -- that will be instrumental in helping to advance your career.
About the Contributors