Gian S. Pagnucci, Ph.D.
Department of English
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

     


Gian Pagnucci

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Indiana University of Pennsylvania

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English 322: Technical Writing

Assignment: Technical Writing Project Proposal

Dr. Gian Pagnucci

Assignment

Now that you've practiced writing a proposal for IUP's recruitment and retention problems, I'd like you to try writing your own, real proposal. I want you to write a proposal for a Technical Writing Project you will actually create. So this proposal isn't just for practice!

Technical Writing Project Parameters 

Type of Project

You may propose any type of Technical Writing Project you like. Occasionally proposals do not get approved, but for the most part, that's a rare occurrence. Your Technical Writing Project may be:

  • one that will be used for real (for example, you could create a web site for a club to which you belong)
  • a project for a fictional audience (for example, you could write the manual for a video game you might want to create or you might create a new web site for a fictional business)
  • something you do for fun (you might want to create a Guide to Spider-man if you really enjoyed the movie)

You can propose:

  • a document for any place where you work
  • a document for your major department, a professor you know, or a class at IUP
  • a document for an organization you belong to (for example a club, a fraternity or sorority, or a church group to which you belong)

Your Technical Writing Project should definitely:

  • Be something you have a strong interest in writing
  • Involve a fair amount of writing
  • Let you make use of some graphics and other design elements
  • Be worth your time (if the project feels like a waste of time, you've proposed the wrong project!)
  • Belong to you, not to your instructor (do a project that matters to you, that way, you'll do a much better job on it)

If you can't think of a good Technical Writing Project on your own, just ask Dr. Pagnucci for some ideas. Many faculty at IUP have projects with which they could use some help. These tasks make excellent Technical Writing Projects and they look good on your resume!

Technical Writing Project Examples

Typical Technical Writing Projects students have written for this course have included:

  • new or revised employee handbooks
  • new web sites for departments, clubs, or other organizations
  • reorganized, redesigned, and rewritten web sites
  • company or organization manuals (either brand new or compiling information from a host of other documents)
  • ergonomic or safety process procedures
  • how-to manuals for all types of products and procedures
  • research project reports
  • accident prevention programs
  • chapters for a larger technical manuals
  • product manuals and guidebooks
  • company profile guidebooks

Printed project examples will be provided in class for your review. To view examples of web projects, click here:

Project Personnel

Most people create individual projects. However, sometimes people want to create a project which would be too large or complicated for only one person to do. In that case, you may work on a project with one or two partners.

Potential Project Benefits

Keep in mind that if you create a project for a real purpose, you may be able to use that project when you go on a job interview. At the very least, this project will help you become familiar with the various aspects of the standard Document Creation Process.

Proposal Assignment Guidelines

Ok. Now you should be all set to write your Technical Writing Project Proposal. This is what you will need to write up and hand in. Your proposal should include all the sections below. Be sure to use section headings to make your proposal easy to read. Your proposal should be 1-2 pages long once you are finished.

  • Technical Writing Project Title--Create a simple working title for your project to help your boss keep track of what you working on (for example, Project Hydra for a project writing a guidebook about a water filtration system).
  • Project Overview--Provide a general description of your project.
  • Project Rationale--Explain why this project is worth creating; why invest your time in this project? What need will this project serve? What problem does this project help solve/address?
  • Project Audience--Who might use/read your document when it is finished? What do you know about this audience? What sort of education do they have?
  • Project Format--Note whether this will be a web-based or print-based document; if you are using some alternate format, such as an audio or video format, please indicate the format you will be using to complete the project; all project formats are acceptable, but please be sure to note which one you will be using
  • Project Scope--Outline specific details of your plan including:
    • project for real world application or project for fun/fictional audience
    • general section/chapter outline
    • planned length (10-20 pages/screens)
    • terminology-what terms will you need to define for your project?
  • Project Personnel--Will you be working alone on this project or will you be working in a team? Team projects are an option, though the final product of a team project should be somewhat longer/more involved than an individual project. Feel free to give yourself a title, like Project Supervisor or Project Director, if you like.
  • Project Design--Plan some of the basic design details of your project:
    • color scheme for the project
    • logo ideas for the project
    • graphics/photographs/illustrations you might include
    • similar documents you know of
  • Evaluation--How will you evaluate the success of your project? How will you measure success? Is there an outside person, like a boss, who can help judge the quality of your final document?
  • Project Related Skills--What resources do you bring to the project? Do you know anything about web page creation? Do you know how to take photographs? How well informed are you about the topic of your project?
  • Resource Needs--Will your project require any research? Will you need to do any interviews for your project? Will you need to take photos for your project? Will you have to learn how to use a piece of software for the project? Is there anything else you'll need to successfully complete your project?
  • Learning Goals (instead of the typical Budgetary Needs)--What do you hope to learn by doing the project (perhaps this is a chance to improve your writing or web design skills)

Can't Think of a Good Technical Writing Project?

Ideally, I want you to come up with your own project idea because that will lead to your best work. But if you can't figure something out, there is a basic idea that works very well as a project. You can write A Guide to Student Life. This can be an online or printed guide. What you want to do is write the guide for an audience of first year students. Then, in your guide, write about issues and topics that new students need to learn about and may not be able to learn about from other sources. This project works well because it gives you a chance to pass on the wisdom you've (hopefully) gained in your years as a college student. A number of students have done this type of project in the past, and I've then shared their guides with the first year students in my English 101: College Writing classes.

Still Need Help?

Are you still stuck or lost? If after giving it some thought, you just can't think of a good project and don't want to write A Guide to Student Life, don't worry! Almost any idea will work and together we'll find something good for you to do! If you can't decide on a project for the moment, then just write down a list of your ideas so far. Then bring in the list and talk about it with Dr. Pagnucci. Usually I can help you figure out how to make one of your ideas work for the project. I also have plenty of projects that people from around IUP have asked for help in creating. Any of those projects would be excellent and would make for a good line on your resume! So don't panic. Together we'll come up with a project you'll enjoy and that will be worth doing. 

 

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