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The Engineering Communication Manual

Richard House, Richard Layton, Jessica Livingston, and Sean Moseley

Publication Date - January 2016

ISBN: 9780199339105

496 pages
Spiral Bound

In Stock

The most modern, visual technical communication text specifically for engineering students


The Engineering Communication Manual addresses authentic writing issues and communication tasks faced by engineers, such as collaborative writing, design of data graphics, and poster presentations. The text helps students to generate effective technical arguments and to think critically about how they present content.


  • Distinctive module-based format provides flexibility for instructors and quick reference tools for students
  • Real engineering documents from industry expose students to the type of communication they will need in the professional world
  • The most relevant communication techniques available today that reflect the worldview of engineers

About the Author(s)

Richard House is a Professor of English at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He received a B.A. from Illinois Wesleyan University and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine. In addition to engineering communication and pedagogy, he has scholarly interests in sustainability and Shakespeare.

Richard A. Layton is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and past Director of the Center for the Practice and Scholarship of Education at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He received a B.S. from California State University, Northridge, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington. His areas of scholarship include data visualization, student teaming, and undergraduate retention.

Jessica Livingston is an Associate Professor of English at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. She received a B.A. from The University of Georgia, an M.A. from the University of Kentucky, and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Her areas of interest include humanitarian engineering, the intersections of gender and work in a global economy, and documentary film.

Sean Moseley is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He received a B.S. from The Georgia Institute of Technology and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. His areas of interest include effective engineering education techniques, solid mechanics, and humanitarian engineering.

Table of Contents


    1 Planning your communication
    Assessing the rhetorical situation
    Displaying evidence and reasoning (logos)
    Conveying credibility (ethos)
    Accommodating audience needs, values, and priorities (pathos)
    Writing within genres

    2 Understanding your audience
    Analyzing stakeholder audiences
    Listening to stakeholders
    Techniques for listening

    3 Meeting your ethical obligations
    Ethics in engineering The engineer's rights and duties
    Analyzing consequences of action and ethical principles
    Types of unethical communication

    4 Accommodating global and cultural differences
    Recognizing cultural values and assumptions
    Emphasis on the individual or the group
    Preference for equality or hierarchy
    Experiences of time
    Role of the writer or the reader in conveying meaning
    Considerations for face-to-face communication

    5 Designing documents for users
    Professional audiences as users
    Chunking: dividing content into manageable units
    Relationships among content: proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast
    Setting type for ease of reading
    Using color


    6 Engineers
    Who they are and how they think: credible arguments required
    Why you communicate with your engineering peers
    How to communicate with your engineering peers

    7 Technicians and technical staff
    Who they are and how they think: implementers
    Why you communicate with technicians
    How you communicate with technicians

    8 Executives
    Who they are and how they think: authorizers
    Why you communicate with executives
    How you communicate with executives

    9 Clients
    Who they are and how they think: it's in the contract
    Why you communicate with clients
    How you communicate with clients

    10 The public and the public sector
    Who they are and how they think: health and safety are first priority
    Why you communicate with the public
    How you communicate with the public


    11 Reporting in a research community
    Writing for a technical audience
    Elements of the IMRaD format
    Experimental reports
    Reports that advance theory
    Literature reviews

    12 Reporting in an industrial organization
    Writing for decision-making audiences in industry
    Elements of the "answers-first" format
    Progress and status reports
    Design reports
    Feasibility studies

    13 Corresponding
    Maintaining a professional tone in correspondence
    Phone calls
    Social media

    14 Proposing
    Common elements of proposing
    External proposals and responding to requests for proposals
    Internal proposals

    15 Instructing
    Principles of writing instructions
    Usability testing

    16 Applying for a job
    Targeting the audience
    Application letters
    Academia: the curriculum vitae and statement of purpose


    17 Researching
    Consulting with experts
    Finding scholarly sources
    Using patents to review prior art Integrating sources: paraphrase and direct quotation
    Citing sources

    18 Drafting
    Planning the argument
    The sequence of drafts

    19 Revising
    From revising to editing to proofreading
    Revising content and argument based on feedback from experts and peers
    Revising structure and organization
    Revising and editing for clarity

    20 Collaborating
    Avoiding the common pitfall of collaboration
    Planning a document as a team
    Drafting a document as a team
    Integrating and unifying a document

    21 Meeting
    The first team meeting: roles, responsibilities, charters
    Why meet? (agendas)
    What happened? (minutes)
    Optimizing virtual meetings


    22 Headings
    Communicating the argument to the hurried reader
    Unifying style and voice

    23 Paragraphs
    Focusing paragraphs on a single idea
    Moving coherently from one sentence to the next

    24 Sentences
    Solidifying the sentence core
    Coordinating and subordinating ideas
    Avoiding sentence fragments, fused sentences, and comma splices Increasing conciseness while maintaining clarity

    25 Words
    Achieving precision without needless jargon
    Selecting precise verbs
    Using pronouns precisely
    Managing emotive language

    26 Summaries
    Executive summaries
    Abstracts Submitting an abstract as a proposal

    27 Front and back matter
    Front matter: title pages, tables of contents, and lists of figures
    Back matter: notes, appendices, and bibliography


    28 Graphs
    Choosing the best graph for the task
    Shared conventions of graphs
    Pie charts, bar graphs, and dot plots
    Scatterplots and line graphs
    Box-and-whisker plots and histograms
    Fine-tuning your graphs:
    Enhancing visual clarity with text

    29 Illustrations
    Choosing the best illustration for the task
    The range of illustrations, from pictorial to schematic
    Commonly encountered types of illustrations
    Fine-tuning your illustration

    30 Tables, equations, and code
    Designing tables
    Writing mathematics
    Writing chemistry
    Writing computer code


    31 Print pages
    Creating a page layout
    Managing the appearance of paragraphs
    Selecting typefaces

    32 Talks
    Overcoming stage fright and connecting with listeners
    Analyzing audience & setting Identifying the genre, purpose, and desired outcome
    Rehearsing and preparing the talk

    33 Presentation slides
    Recognizing the limitations of slideware
    Designing slides using assertion-evidence style
    Using Prezi to illustrate spatial relationships
    Adapting slide designs for other purposes

    34 Posters
    Understanding the audience for a poster presentation
    Delivering the poster talk
    Placing major elements of the poster
    Applying design principles to the poster

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