chapter  Chapter 4
17 Pages

Genres of Technical Communication

WithM. Jimmie Killingsworth, Michael K. Gilbertson

The concept of genre is more than just a way of distinguishing among types of documents. It is a way of classifying and predicting types of action by determining the rhetoric of documents most closely associated with those actions. As the rhetorical function of a text changes, the types of signs and combinations of signs that work best in a text will also change. This chapter looks at a variation on that theme: as rhetorical function and context shifts, so the overall type of document, the genre, also shifts. In selecting appropriate genres, writers model appropriate actions. The major genres of technical communication—the report, the manual, and the proposal—all approach technical action from a different perspective. All written genres—essays, novels, plays, poems, newspaper reports, and advertisements—give rise to subgenres. The major genres of technical communication—the report, the manual, and the proposal—all have myriad subgenres.