At least 10 pages. Page count includes all required pages:
Letter or memo of transmittal,
Table of contents,
Works Cited Page
(Number of pages will vary depending on the focus of your paper, number of graphs, charts, etc. Remember, longer is not necessarily better; however, be certain you cover your topic; do not leave your reader with any questions, and do not fall above or below the allotted page number! Remember, too, instructors are savvy to tricks like HUGE fonts, HUGE expanses of white space. Meet the page count fairly!)
GENERAL FORMATTING REQUIREMENTS:
- Effective page layout and overall presentation
- Careful and thorough spell checking, proofreading, rereading, revising. Multiple errors in grammar and mechanics will result in significantly lower paper grades.
Letter or Memo of Transmittal, addressed to me if you are writing an analytical report, addressed to whomever your audience is if you are writing a proposal.
Follow letter format if the recipient is outside the firm you work for; follow memo format if the recipient is within the same organization.
Table of Contents
Body of your paper, which will include your findings and conclusions, and your visual aids, etc. The body of your paper must demonstrate your understanding of the importance of creating a usable design.
The following items must appear at some point in the body of your paper:
An extended (paragraph) technical definition or
A description of a technical procedure/process
Visual Aids: At least one of each of the following visual aids must be included in your paper for a total of at least FOUR visual aids – one table, one chart, one graph, and one graphic illustration. Follow the guidelines in the textbook.
You must include one of each of the following:
- 1. table
- 2. chart
- 3. graph
- 4. graphic illustration- only one graphic illustration is required; it may be any of the following: diagram, map, clipart/icon, photo
Works Cited or References Page: Provide references for all sources used in the writing of your paper- textbooks, magazine articles, personal interviews, Internet sources, newspaper references, experts in the field, etc.; list references in alphabetical order, following American Psychological Association (APA) format.
You must include at least three scholarly (i.e., journal/newspaper/magazine article, book, reference volume, etc.) sources in your proposal. You may use other sources, but you must also use library sources. Think about this as you choose your topic!
Note 1: The above list includes items you MUST have in your final paper. Depending upon your topic, you may have other needs. Adapt as needed. Perhaps a glossary is essential for your subject; if so, include one. You may find you need an appendix, which is a “catchall for items that are important but difficult to integrate into the body of a report.” If you need one, include one.
Note 2: Your final analytical report or formal proposal should demonstrate your ability to present an idea to your reader using skills acquired this term: clarity, correct punctuation, document organization- including page layout, use of color/font, use of white-space, lists, etc., as well as report-writing, letter writing, research and documentation, etc. Your analysis or proposal should be geared to persuade your reader to come to the same conclusions you have reached.
Note 3: I highly recommend reviewing Chapters 8 and 9. There are many examples and illustrations of effective design techniques. Remember, you will be graded on your content as well as your presentation of information.
Final projects will be graded on a combination of form and content. The two must work together to convey your information in a pleasing yet informative fashion.
Topic Ideas for the Final Project
Over the years I have seen many final projects from technical writing students. Let me share with you some of the topic choices students have made. I hope these ideas will help you generate your own topic.
I highly encourage you to put to use something you are working on in your professional career, or something you may be exploring in another class you are taking. I am always a strong supporter of extra mileage- get all you can out of the effort you put into projects!
Here are some of the topics students have pursued:
Proposal from the payroll manager at a small company. This student wrote a 12-page proposal to her supervisor proposing that the company move from a monthly payroll to a bi-monthly schedule. She was responding to requests from employees that such a change be made. The student outlined in her proposal the cost of such a move, as well as the benefits: increased employee satisfaction, increased flexibility with new and part-time employees. The student then outlined in graphs and charts how this transition would take place, the number of worker hours required, and the long-term impact of such a transition. This was an excellent “real world” project and the student successfully convinced her company to make the switch!
Proposal from an employee at Nextel to have small printers installed at the desk of each of the company’s service reps’ desks. This student works as a service rep for Nextel, one of the area cellular service providers. The company’s service rep area had only one monster laser printer in the middle of a room that services some 20-25 reps. Every time a rep had to print out a document to send to a customer, that rep had to wait in line with many other print jobs. This student proposed that the company purchase 20-25 deskjet printers to be installed at each rep’s desk. He figured out the cost of the initial purchase, the cost of cartridges and service, and compared these costs against servicing and maintaining the monster printer. He then calculated the savings in customer satisfaction, employee reduction of stress, and other factors that would be addressed by installing these printers. It was another excellent “real world” project, and Nextel implemented his suggestions! The plan is actually saving the company a significant amount of money!
Proposal for Sponsorship of Dirt Bike Racer: One of my students was an avid dirt bike racer who was rapidly moving up the ranks. He needed funding to help pay for his hobby, so he wrote a proposal that he then submitted to potential sponsors. In the proposal he outlined his experience as a racer, the benefits to sponsors in being included in his racing, the races he was scheduled to participate in the upcoming year, a detailed listing of the expenses he incurs, and a list of sponsors who are currently active in the dirt bike arena. His final proposal was a beautiful multi-colored document that he then had professionally copied, and he is sending the proposal to companies and has secured sponsors for his hobby.
Analytical Report on the Impact of the Internet on Teens: One of my younger students was interested in what official reports had to say about the impact of the Internet on teens. In addition to reading studies published on the Internet and in other publications, the student conducted his own interviews with friends and fellow students to arrive at his conclusions. It was an excellent research project with very clear conclusions presented by the student. It is important to remember that an ANALYTICAL report must reach conclusions–it must work to persuade the reader to see things the same way you do. Do not simply write a research paper, an information paper. You have to do some analysis.
Proposal to a Garment Outlet for Recycling of Materials: An environmentally conscious student was appalled by the volume of cardboard and other packing materials thrown away by her employer, a garment outlet (Gap, I think). The student proposed that the store contract with a recycling firm to take all packing materials to a recycling facility. Although her proposal would actually cost the company more money, she argued that an environmentally friendly philosophy/practice would, in the long run, be beneficial to the store. Her proposal was adopted and plans are in place to expand the recycling effort to stores nationwide.
Proposal to Restructure Procedures for Issuing Well Permits: One of my students is a rancher in Northern Colorado. He and his family have been ranching 200+ acres for more than 150 years. They are concerned about the way well permits are being issued as the area around their ranch begins to grow. The student drafted a proposal for reconsidering permit practices to provide ranchers with the water they need for crops and livestock. A friend of the student’s family is a legislator in the area and he is taking the proposal to the powers-that-be in the district.
Proposal for Funding for Small Businesses: I have had several students use this opportunity to prepare a proposal to take to a financial institution as they seek funding for small businesses. One student and her sister wanted to start a dating service, and another student was writing a program for an online game and needed funding to purchase a critical piece of software. Both students wrote proposals to local banks to secure funding for their business ideas.
Analytical Report on Xeriscaping: A landscape architect student wrote an analytical report on the benefits of xeriscaping–a landscaping technique that uses native plants and grasses and requires no water beyond that provided by rainfall. He was trying to look at the situation from both an economic and aesthetic perspective. It was a highly effective project! The student uses it to convince clients that xeriscape is environmentally, economically and aesthetically the way to go.
Other Sources of Inspiration
Something else you can consider is a purchase you are looking to make. For example, are you considering the purchase of an automobile? A computer? A printer? A scanner? A stereo? A house? Any of these would be good analytical reports. You could research the purchase and in your analysis compare and contrast features and prices and warranties, etc. You could even compare making the new purchase against keeping your old computer, printer, scanner, stereo, house, or car. This topic comes to mind for me because we are grappling with whether or not to sell our ’91 Pickup truck to get something newer, or if the price of a new vehicle is prohibitive given insurance, tax, title, upkeep, etc. And how do those costs weigh against the aging vehicle and all the problems inherent with that? A purchase evaluation would definitely meet the requirements for this assignment.
The final project is a significant part of your grade- a full 25%. Be certain you understand what is expected of you. Leaving out parts of the assignment will affect your final grade and there is no revision option on this last project. Be certain you choose a topic that will lend itself to all the requirements–graphics, definitions, and a procedure/process.
And, of course, have fun with the topic. It’s a great project and most students have been able to choose something that is of great interest to them, and often of significant use to their employer as well.