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ITEC 3730: Automated Manufacturing II (BASU)

Technical Writing

Whether you are writing a report or creating your PowerPoint and/or poster presentation, you want to ensure it contains these parts:

  1. State the problem you have solved. Keep it short and to the point while indicating its importance and relevant background information. Use concrete examples that can help your reader or audience understand and appreciate the problem.
  2. State your solution approach/key ideas/design description.
  3. Present the output (evidence, tool, etc.) that shows/verifies you have solved the problem.

Purpose of a Design/Client Report:

A design report is the written record of the project you have completed. Its purpose is to communicate the solution to a problem, typically to a client.


Purpose of a PowerPoint Presentation:

Convey the main message of your presentation. You want someone to be able to view your PowerPoint slides and come away understanding the main message and key highlights of your project even if they aren't able to hear your accompanying oral presentation.


Purpose of a Poster Presentation:
  • Catch the viewers' attention.
  • Quickly and easily Introduce the viewers to the fundamentals of your project.
  • Keep text to a minimum and use it along with graphs, tables, charts, and/or pictures to present the key points/highlights.
  • Make the viewers want to learn more about your project.
Principles of Good Poster Design
Grabbing Attention
  • Give your poster a title that will draw attention and summarize your project

  • Important information should be largest (text hierarchy)

  • Often the title is largest, then your name (or group names) and affiliations

  • Title should be readable from approximately 10 feet away (letters approx. 1.5 inches tall)

  • San serif fonts (like Arial, Helvetica) are easier to read far away (think of the font used on highway signs)

  • Serif fonts (like Times New Roman) are easier to read in block or body text

  • If you are printing out slides, boxes, figures, or images, add dark borders as they will help provide contrast against a lighter background

Organizing Information
  • Common organization for scientific posters: Introduction, Materials / Methods (if applicable), Results, Conclusions, Literature Cited, Acknowledgements, Further Information)
  • It can be helpful to sketch out how your information will be organized / will flow throughout the poster
Overall Advice
  • Poster should generally be 300-800 words
  • Keep your body text as brief as possible and use lists of sentences rather than blocks of text
  • Light / neutral colored backgrounds with dark text are easiest to read
  • Use bright colors sparingly
  • Use images, graphics, charts, figures that support your ideas. (Captions as needed)
  • Use no more than 3 fonts total
  • Review specific event details of the conference or event you are presenting at for poster requirements and suggestions
  • If you are printing power point slides to stick to your poster, be careful of the glue you use. The best adhesives are rubber cement or spray adhesive (especially designed for paper) to adhere text pages, title banners and other paper materials to the poster backing. White glue (Elmer's glue), paste, mucilage, glue sticks, craft glue etc. will not work as well. They either do not adhere nicely (as in the case of glue sticks) or they cause the paper and even the poster board to shrink, wrinkle and generally look terrible.

APA Citations

Whether you are writing a report/paper, creating your PowerPoint presentation or creating your poster, if you use someone else's intellectual property rights you need to cite the source be it a book, article, proprietary software or an image. For these components, you will be using APA style.

Computer Software

Do you need to cite computer software when you refer to it in your paper or presentation? Answer:

  • Yes, you do if it is specialized software.
  • No, you do not if it is "standard" software such as MS Word or Adobe.

When citing specialized software in your Reference list, you want to include as many of the same elements as you would for any other source, such as a book, that you know:

  • Who - the individual who has the proprietary rights to the software program; if you don't know this, treat it as a work without an author
  • When - the year the version you used was released
  • What - the name of the software and after the name provide a descriptor for the item in brackets
  • Where - the software's publisher's name and location; if the software is available online, provide a retrieval statement with the URL instead

Examples:

Four Winds Interactive (version 5.1.0.4040) [Computer software]. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.fourwindsinteractive.com/

Smith, J. (2018). 3-D Imagination [Computer software]. Portland, ME: XPress, Inc.


When referring to the software in your text, give the full name of the software along with the version number (if there is one).

Examples:

The messaging and content for the library's digital signage is created using Four Winds Interactive (version 5.1.0.4040, 2015).

We created the variety of gadgets on display with our presentation through use of Version 1 of 3-D Imagination (2018) and a basic 3-D printer.


Note: Some software providers make citation a part of the license and mandate a specific citation form.

Software Manuals and Handbooks

Software may come with a printed or online manual or handbook. You would cite use of these similar to citing the software, using the title of the software and the company's information.

Reference citation format examples:

Company Name. (Year). Software title: Manual/Handbook title. Publisher location: Publisher Name.

Company Name. (Year). Software title: Manual/Handbook title. Retrieved from http://companyx.com/file_pdf

See examples of additional types of sources:

UMass Amherst Undergraduate Research Conference: Being a Presenter

Oral Presentations are conducted in 45-minute sessions that include three 10-minute formal presentations highlighting the most important aspects of a project or research followed by a shared a shared 15 minute Q & A.

  • It is common for presenters to include a PowerPoint slide deck with their talk.
  • Presenters are provided with computers, projection capabilities, remote clicker, mic, and internet access and expected to bring their PowerPoint presentation on a USB flash drive.

Poster Presentations are interactive 45-minute sessions designed to share research findings and answer questions of attendees.

  • The poster is a printed display created to highlight the most important aspects of a project or researchThe poster typically includes a brief narrative paper, intermixed with tables, graphs, pictures, and/or other visuals.
  • Each presenter or presentation group will be provided with a 4’ x 4’ display board and pins to hand their poster.
  • Posters serve as a reference tool while engaging with attendees.
  • Presenters have 10 minutes to set up their display before the session begins and 5 minutes after session to remove items.

ePosterBoard Presentations are interactive 45-minute sessions designed to share research findings and answer questions of attendees.

  • An ePosterBoard (ePoster) is a digital presentation display screen and is computer ready to highlight the most important aspects of a project or research.
  • The digital system has capabilities for PowerPoint as well as various video formats.
  • ePosters serve as a reference tool while engaging with attendees.
  • Presenters must provide their prepared display on a USB flash drive at the conference ePosterBoard desk 45 minutes prior to their presentation time in order to have their display properly cued up for their presentation.
  • For more information on setting up an ePoster presentation and to download templates, visit https://www.honors.umass.edu/eposterboard-information.