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Glossary and References

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Decision Makers: Readers who rely on information in your documents to make choices.

Genre-based Professional Communication: The idea that documents, such as reports, white papers, etc., should be taught and written as fixed and unchanging forms or templates isolated from the rhetorical situation.

Participatory Design: A methodology involving users (or research participants) and their feedback in the production process. Participatory design positions designers (authors) alongside users so that work is collaborative, and it levels the field of expertise between designer and user so that knowledge from both are recognized as valid and important to producing mutually beneficial technologies.

Rhetorical Awareness: Analyzing and understanding the purpose, audience, stakeholders, and context of the situation in which you are writing in order to make your documents persuasive and user-centered.

Rhetoric: "The art of persuasion by the available means" (Aristotle). "The use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols" (Kenneth Burke).

Shadow Reader: Unintended audience members you must consider when composing documents. The likelihood of shadow readers is much higher now considering global access to online information.

Stakeholders: People who may be affected by decision-makers' choices based on information in your documents.

User-Centered (Reader-Centered) Design: The idea that authors must always think about and consider the needs of the audience/users/readers. For user-centered design, "...the emphasis is on people, rather than technology, although the powers and limits of contemporary machines are considered in order to...take that next step from today's limited machines toward more user-centered ones" (Robert R. Johnson).


Anderson, Paul V. Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach. 6th ed. Boston: Thomson-Wadsworth, 2007.

CPSR—Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility. November 15, 2008, from

Ehn, Pelle. “Scandinavian Design: On Participation and Skill” P. S. Adler and T. A. Winograd (Eds.), Usability: Turning Technologies into Tools (96-132). New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Johnson, Robert R. User-Centered Technology: A Rhetorical Theory for Computers and Other Mundane Artifacts. Albany: SUNY Press, 1998.

Johnson-Sheehan, Richard. Technical Communication Today. New York: Pearson-Longman, 2005.