Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Celebration of Success Video

This video was created from pictures Janna and I both took to celebrate SMSU student accomplishments.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Business Writing Contest

As I receive them, I will include on the blog information about student writing contests related to professional writing.

Association for Business Communication (ABC) Writing Contest
Those of you who like business writing should consider entering the Association for Business Communication’s student writing contest.
The contest asks you to write in response to a case. Entries are due Friday, April 24, 2009, and first, second, and third place winners receive money.
For more details, visit this site:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Meet Dan Gilland

Dan is a freshman PWC Major from Morgan, MN who...
  • dreams of becoming a sports journalist for a large newspaper or magazine.
  • plans to get a job at a newspaper or magazine and start building his resume after graduating from SMSU.
  • wants to focus his education on journalism and improve his technical writing.
  • reads his favorite book To Kill a Mockingbird and his favorite magazine Sports Illustrated in his spare time.
  • enjoys writing in a journalistic way, especially writing feature and profile stories.
  • considers his greatest accomplishment placing 6th at the state tournament with his golf team.

On Page Numbers

The Context
In technical writing and technical editing we talk a lot about making a text easy for readers to use. In Johnson-Sheehan’s Technical Communication Today (2/e), he suggests that readers “raid” a text for information. I pretty much buy that metaphor when it comes to technical documents, and students and I spend a lot of time discussing strategies for enabling readers to use text easily and quickly. Just a few topics we discuss include: how to use graphics, diagrams, headings, and idea arrangement (e.g., how to create a hierarchy of information with most needed items first). However, lately, I have also been discussing page numbers.
My Beef
Lots of places are trying to do documentation on the cheap by creating PDF documents that users can download from the web. As a user, I find those documents handy and sometimes print them off. However, the last few documents I have printed have been long and got messed up at the shared printer. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered the documents did not have page numbers! Yes, I could have added them before printing, but shouldn’t they be there already? Aren’t page numbers a good way to make a document more usable? Do we too often take something like page numbers for granted?
Rant On
What do you think? Do page numbers even matter? Or do you have a different more annoying pet peeve related to writing to rant on about?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Meet Janna Dorman

Janna Dorman is a freshman PWC major from Marshall, MN who...

  • dreams of becoming a book editor for a publishing company.
  • plans to attend graduate school after she graduates from SMSU.
  • wants to focus her education on editing.
  • reads her favorite book The Book Thief in her spare time.
  • enjoys writing technically more than creatively.
  • considers her greatest accomplishment to be raising over $1000 and $1000lbs. of food for the local food shelf.

PWC Professional Activites

PWC Majors are getting ahead with internships & speaking opportunities.

Dan Gilland
Intern, Marshall Independent
Spring 2009

Lorien Downing
Speaker, Rotary Club
February 2009

Janice Robinson
Interviewed for Womeninc Magazine
February 2009

Jessica Welu
Intern, Lyon County Library
Spring 2009

Jason Zahn
Intern, Spur
Spring 2009

Tara Adolph
Intern, Chamber of Commerce (Marshall)
Spring 2009
PWC Minor

Kylie Jacobsen
Intern, Hutch Leader
Summer 2009

Congratulations PWC Majors

Congratulations to PWC Majors who received honors for Fall Semester.

Students with a 3.8-4.0 GPA were awarded with High Honors.
Students with a 3.5-3.75 GPA were award with Honors.

High Honors:
Janna Dorman
Lorien Downing
Dan Gilland
Mallory Gould
Kylie Jacobsen
Jason Zahn

Emi Kawakami
Jessica Welu
Sandy Zeug

PWC Featured Career: Technical Editing

What is a Technical Editor?
Technical editors make sure that technical documents are concise and easily understandable. Technical documents usually inform people how to perform a specific task. Technical editors help to make the format as well as the content of a technical piece of writing easy to read and comprehend.

Job Duties
Technical editors perform many job duties:

· Suggest format to communicate messages effectively (Information taken from

· Rewrite and restructure text to fit the format (

· Review all aspects of production and making sure that standards stay consistent throughout documents (

· Ensure communication between all members of production (

· Delete content that is outdated or does not enhance the meaning of the passage

Job Outlook
From 2006 – 2016, the number of employment opportunities in editing should rise 2.3% nationally.

The number of employment opportunities in Minnesota is expected to fall 2.4%.

· National average hourly wage is $27.32
· Minnesota average hourly wage is $25.04
· Seven County Mlps – St. Paul, MN average hourly wage is $25.98
· Southwestern average hourly wage is $17.55
(Information from

“Employment of salaried writers and editors is expected to increase as demand grows for web-based publications... Online publications and services are growing in number and sophistication, spurring the demand for writers and editors, especially those with Web experience.” -The Bureau of Labor Statistics

Example Job Ad
RTI is an independent organization dedicated to conducting innovative, multidisciplinary research that improves the human condition. With a worldwide staff of more than 4,000 people, RTI offers innovative research and development and a full spectrum of multidisciplinary services on an International level.

Job Description

The Program Development Office within the Social and Statistical Sciences Division at RTI International is seeking an experienced editor to provide publications support to research staff in the production of technical reports, white papers, proposals, journal articles, presentation materials, guidelines documents, outreach materials, newsletters, and brochures in a fast-paced, deadline-driven setting.

This position requires extensive knowledge of:

• fundamental principles, terminology, and methodology of technical editing and/or writing and document organization
• style guides and/or other writing conventions
• grammar and punctuation rules
• word processing, graphics, and printing processes and software for document roduction.

In addition, qualified candidates must demonstrate effective communication skills including but not limited to:

• providing diplomatic and constructive comments to clients
• providing project leadership on publications teams
• developing and maintaining strong client base
• observing detail
• managing and prioritizing multiple tasks
• making sound judgment to analyze tasks and determining appropriate level of effort required for completion.
• independently organizing and prioritizing work
• adapting to changes in priorities, workload, and workflow.


• Editing complex technical reports for heavy reorganization and rewriting as required, with attention to grammar, style, format, and consistency according to appropriate style guide or knowledge of client
• Writing or assembling new material from client-supplied information
• Coordinating all phases of document production, using a thorough knowledge of publication processes
• Coordinating proposal production efforts
• Developing style guidelines as needed


• Bachelor’s degree in English or related writing discipline
• Five years of editing/writing experience
• Master’s degree in related discipline
• Four years of relevant experience

Editors are needed everywhere, in every field of expertise!