Tag Archives: Definition

3050 Session Three Definitions 9/4/14

Planning Definitions/Descriptions


 Macro Level

  • Who needs this definition and what is their familiarity with terms in this field?
  • What amount of detail is needed?
  • Where and how will this definition be used?

Micro Level

  • How might a sentence definition be used in the document and elsewhere (consider different contexts; in this case, the fact that this is an entry for Wikipedia)?

Reader-Centered Concerns

From Markel:

  • “Definitions clarify a description of a new development or a new technology in a technical field” (565).
  • “Definitions help specialists communicate with less knowledgeable readers” (585).
Types of Readers
  • Primary-wants to learn, action takers, decision makers
  • Secondary-proofread, fact check, advisors
  • Tertiary-“accidental readers” evaluators

Researching Required

  • Basic knowledge/background info/history
  • Most recent info
  • What level of familiarity will reader have
  • Valid references
  • Visuals
  • examples

Sentence Definitions: Terms, Categories, and Distinguishing Characteristics

  • Specify the category and characteristics
  • Differentiate between a specific item and a class of items
  • Avoid circular definitions
  • Use a noun or noun phrase rather than a who, what, where, when phrase.

Extending the sentence definition

  • Indicate the scope and nature of the description
  • Provide a clear description
  • Use sufficient amount and appropriate detail
  • Conclude (Markel, 574)

Example: pencil

Markel identifies 8 strategies/tools for extending your sentence definitions:

  • Graphics/Visual Aid
  • Examples/Usages
  • Partition/categories
  • Principle of Operation
  • Comparisons
  • Analogy
  • Negation
  • Etymology of term/history

Example: personal computer

Style (Keeping it Simple and Usable)


  • Use familiar words and terms
  • Keep sentences short
  • Use definitions within definitions (use links to existing Wiki pages)
  • Leverage visuals appropriately

Common Problems with Project One Executions (and common strategies for avoiding them)

1. Entry does not serve knowledge base 
  • Expand a stub, make an entry for a section of an existing article, or choose a “wanted” or “most wanted” entry 
  • Enter your contribution into Wikipedia in advance of the due date (to allow time to gauge readers/editors responses)
  • Familiarize yourself with what kinds of entries are cut (and why)
2. Entry does not follow formatting/style guidelines of knowledge base
  • Study the wikipedia style guidelines and content criteria and makes sure you are aware of common writing practices for this site
  • Use an article on a similar topic as your style sheet/example
  • Be aware of, in particular, when images/diagrams would be of use for a given topic
3. Entry contains inaccuracies, unverified claims, and/or grammar/punctuation mistakes
  • Research your topic thoroughly
  • Be sure to cite sources appropriately (using Wikipedia’s guidelines)
  • Perform common editing/spell check functions, including importing your text into a word processor

Let’s take a look at our memos.

One Card OverAchievers: Evan L. Joshua, Ali, Mohammad, Peter Dolcinek.

We’ve Gone Plaid: Martin, Nate , Kelly , Evan C.

The U. N. Group: Ritwik, Abe, Kento, Branden, Billal

Brad’s Undergrads: Lauren, Peter Dolba, Gi Tae, Vandit

The Creative Ones: Brittany, Tayler, Nick, Jason, Ronald

Strategies for Writing Good Memos (from Chapter 23 of Technical Communication)

  • Adopt a “You-Centered” Attitude
  • State your Main Points Quickly
  • Keep it Short
  • Provide Necessary Background
  • Use Headings, Lists, and Graphics when Appropriate
  • Follow Format Conventions

In Regards to this Memo specifically:

  • Keep the receiver’s (my) desires in mind
  • Address major objectives at the start of subsections
  • Keep the memo to a single page
  • Provide necessary context when discussion challenges and strategies
  • Use a To/From/Date/Subject top heading
  • Use Headings
  • Bullet lists are appropriate for a work plan
  • Graphics are appropriate only in special circumstances

Assignments for this Week/Next Week and Beyond


  • Before 11:59 pm tonight: Tweak your Memo Assignment for Project One and email a MSWord doc. file to me. Make sure it includes a sentence definition of your topic.
  • Write an evaluation (@ 300-500 words) describing the blog you found by 11:59 pm, Mon. 9/8/14
  • Before class on Tuesday, 9/9: Read Chapters 4 (“Planning for Usefulness”), 5 (“Planning Your Persuasive Strategies,” p. 117-146),
  • Quiz on Thursday 9/11
  • Project One Due by 11:59 pm Tuesday, 9/16/14:  Post to Wikipedia (or other knowledgebase) and provide a copy of the text with a link to the Wikipedia entry (see an example here). Provide “before” and “after” screenshots as linked files with your references on your team blog page.