Technical Writing Textbook

When I taught technical writing for Westwood College, we used Technical Report Writing Today by Riordan (Houghton Mifflin), and others for earlier editions. I liked the book, but when I needed to select a book for my class at Red Rocks, I picked Technical Communication (8th ed.) by Mike Markel (Bedford/St. Martin’s). I’m beginning to regret that decision.

First, I don’t care for Markel’s definition of technical communication as “workplace communication” There’s a lot more to it than that.

Second, when he presents the writing process, he treats technical documents the same as any writing assignment the students would do for a class. He leaves out considerations of budget, deadlines, publication, distribution, etc.

I didn’t care too much for Riordan’s definition either, but he did a good job of covering the writing process as it occurs in the workplace.

In Riordan’s last edition (9th), the page layout was changed so there are wide outside margins. I didn’t care for that or the effort to expand the textbook to cover technical “communication” instead of technical writing despite the title. I also don’t agree with his assertion in the first chapter (an addition to the latest edition) that “technical writing is global.” I also wish he had a chapter on fliers, brochures, and similar documents.

However, I may go back to his book the next time I teach the class.

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