Document Analysis Part Two


To: Robert P Danberg
From: Darren Ng
Date: 05/28/2010
Subject: Document Analysis Part Two

For an effective field guide, it needs to consist of several prevailing factors that include knowing your audience to having the sufficient amount of information in order to communicate your intentions. From reading the sample guides, I thought that having a descriptive and “easy to read” introduction was extremely important into developing an effective text. This is because you don’t want the reader to lose interest just by the first glance of the introduction. The introduction should state your purpose and the contents of the main functions/sections of the guide. The non-runner’s marathon guide would be the best example in my case. The guide’s introduction was so descriptive and the language was so precise that it made the guide feel interesting. No matter the domain, simple and easy language always puts the reader at ease or at least “comfortable”.

The domain of the guide is also a very critical aspect as it depicts your target audience. If you were to target beginners then obviously more description and explanations are needed to grasp your audience or decrease the breach between specialist and general audience. For this instance, the Bird Guide was a piece that helped educate an inexperienced birder to recognize birds from a distance.

Lastly, the choice of visual representation is vital to the success of a guide. I thought the drawings in the guides that had pictures were not much of assistance as opposed to a real life shot. Depending on your guide, giving the reader a sense of reality would be the most effective and suitable explanation in most cases. The Bird Guide would have been much more successful if real pictures of birds were taken for the ease of reference of the reader/user.

Darren Ng

To: Robert P Danberg
From: William Martin
Date: 05/28/2010
Subject: Document Analysis Part Two

There are a few necessary characteristics that are vital for creating an effective field guide. Just to offer a few examples, I would like to point out the importance of vocabulary, relationship between image and text, and structure. When creating a field guide, attention to vocabulary is essential. A field guide needs to be easy to read and can in no way be confusing to the audience. In the part I analysis I applauded the Non Runners Marathon Trainer as being a great guide. For me it was very informative and descriptive, but was also very easy to understand. You can't run the risk of loosing your audience because they can't understand what they are reading.

Relationship between image and text is important because it enhances the clarity of the guide. When writing a guide, the goal isn't to just "tell" the audience the information. You want to strive to actually show them. Using image to supplement the text is a highly effective way of being able to show the audience the information. Explaining a point, and then being able to show them a chart, like in the marathon guide, or pictures of different types of feathers as in the bird guide, makes it easier for the reader to understand the information. It gives them a chance to visualize what it is we are trying to show them.

Looking back to the part I analysis, I stressed the importance of structure. Again, I used the marathon guide as an excellent model of this. Its step by step structure along with ordering the different sections in chronoligical order, beginning with the pre training information then leading up to the finish line, gave the article exceptional flow. This further enhances the easiness for the audience to read, understand, and learn the information.

William Martin

Date: May 29, 2010
To: Robert P. Danberg
From: Yunmi Hong, an undergraduate student of Binghamton University
Subject: Document Analysis Two: Good criteria for a good field guide.

Robert, there are many different components that must play together to build a good field guide, or rather a good piece of writing at that. First above all, the writer must do their research and be very knowledgeable of what they are writing. I feel as though the domain of knowledge is the most important factor. I feel as though this is the most important factor. If the writer is not knowledgeable in the subject, then the reader is bound to get lost in his/her explanation. Good literature, at that, assumes that the reader has no knowledge in the subject matter, and the writer is there to educate on the topic.

Next, to produce a good field guide, a combination of understandable language and visual aid, if possible, is at most necessary for deep comprehension. In “Understanding Feathers” and “The Basics”, are good examples of such theory. They both use “easy English” to explain their field guide with the help of many visual aids to explain their direct statements, which is a good rhetorical approach. Of course, pictures weren’t necessary, but it definitely helped in explaining the specific topics of interest.

Another good component to producing a good field guide is the breakdown of subjects. To better explain the content and the domain knowledge on the field, breaking down into specific parts help the reader to gather their attention. At times, trying to explain a wide range of material is difficult, but when broken down into main points that the reader should remember helps with the concepts.

There are many approaches to a GOOD FIELD GUIDE. The three explained previously, are going to be my main focuses and goals into my own writing. These are some things that I haven’t noticed before when reading from my own leisure, but with the mindset to learning the method for analysis and organization, these three things are crucial.

Please let me know of any suggestions or comments.

To: Robert Danberg, Professor
From: Alyssa O’Toole, Student
Date: 06/03/10
Subject: Document Analysis Part Two

As my colleagues have offered, a prerequisite for an effective field guide, is that it is written by someone who is knowledgeable of the topic being covered. This means that sufficient research and experience together are used to formulate the guide. An effective guide also appropriately designates an audience and writes the document in a way that is specifically suitable for that audience. As mentioned in part one of the document analysis, certain field guides did a better job of this than others. An example of a guide that effectively distinguished an audience and made this audience clear to the reader throughout was the non-runner’s guide to finishing a marathon. In virtually every paragraph, there was an allusion to the “inexperienced runner” whose goal is to merely “complete a 26.2 mile marathon”. This was useful because it kept the article focused and all other elements on key including vocabulary use/use of text, level of the overall depth of the article, and inclusion of visual aids within. If an audience is not properly defined there are bound to be issues surrounding the domain, rhetoric, and content of the article.

Another factor that defines an effective field guide is whether it serves its purpose or not. Defining a purpose is almost as important as designating an audience because it affects the way in which a guide is formatted and developed for the reader. When creating a guide one should ask, “How will this guide function? Is it meant to be carried with my reader during the experience or is meant to be left at home and well studied by my reader before the experience?” Some guides are meant to be manuals, or step-by-step instructions of how to do something. Other guides serve as research tools, a way for the advanced to advance themselves further. Either way, the purpose will determine this and the guide should be created appropriately. Take for example the Bird Guide. This document was formatted more like a manual, or for the inexperienced birder to more easily recognize and identify birds. It covered various topics in depth but used ample amounts of images and real-life representations to be quickly deciphered. It also used bullet points and paragraphing to emphasize certain content of the document as well. The way in which this guide was formatted and developed was the result of its intended purpose to inform only the beginner birder. There was a consistency between audience and the purpose thus the rest fell in place.

As I started to mention, the amount and use of images greatly affect the impact of a guide as well. Two extremes of this are “A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians” and “Jaques Pepin’s Complete Techniques.” Section II of the field guide to reptiles and amphibians includes no images and dense paragraphs. Where it goes into detail about the length or assembly of a piece of equipment images may have added clarity. Instead, each paragraph is separated by highly specialized language and packed with specific details of each technique that after a couple paragraphs become hard to follow. Contrarily, “Jaques Pepin’s Complete Techniques” was the most basic, using the more images per page of text than any other guide analyzed. The images served this guide well because they effectively portrayed processes and end results. This gave the reader confirmation as to whether they were approaching the process correctly and whether they were getting what they should have been out of it. Something I have become attuned to as a business major, is proper utilization of images. An effective guide should only have images relating to the text being covered and should only have them for the sake of clarity or reference. Overuse is just as damaging as underuse so we will all have to think about finding an appropriate balance when creating our own guides.

To: Robert P Danberg
From: Lena Hong
Date: 07/10/2010
Subject: Document Analysis Part Two

In my opinion, an excellent field guide should include a great introduction. The guide is something that should engage the readers and pull them in. I do not want to compare a field guide to a paper, but it is similar to one. A field guide should have an introduction that includes a strong hook, detailed thesis and a good summary of what the whole guide will be about. The readers of the field guide should know what they will expect from the guide by reading just the first paragraph.

The type of context in the field guide should include vocabulary every reader should understand. It should not exclude any ages, because field guides are for everyone to learn from. If the context had complex vocabulary, I think that it would be best to define the word and give examples in the beginning.

Last but not least, visuals like photos, diagrams, charts, graphs etc… are very significant qualities in a excellent field guide. Everyone is a visual learner, and many prefer to have a visual explanation because it sometimes is easier to get a clearer understanding. So I think having photos or comparison graphs in a field guide is a beneficial characteristic in a good field guide. The flaws and non-flawed field guides help me conclude one what best works in a field guide, and what does not work well in a field guide.

Lena Hong

From:Andrew Williamson
To:Robert Danberg and Classmates
Date: 7-11-2010
Subject: Document Analysis part two

Most importantly, I think that a good field guide is one that is not jargon-lade. If it is filled with lots of words that only experts can understand, then it will be difficult for someone that is just interested to read the guide. If it is necessary to use technical language however, it would be beneficial to define the words in laymen's terms as they come up or have a glossary.

It is also important to incorporate images in a way that does not objectively place it in, with no purpose. The pictures or graphs should help to explain or to show what you are talking about, like the "Non-marathon runners trainer" used the chart to show the workout schedule.

Finally, a good field guide should be able to be used on while doing the activity you are reading about. The point of the field guide is to be used "in the field" and should have the potential to be referenced while doing so, like the cooking book.

Andrew Williamson


From: Janette Wambere
To: Robert Danberg and Classmates
Date: 7/11/2010
Subject: Document Analysis Part Two

Every effective field guide should have an introduction that is precise and to the point so that the reader knows exactly what the guide is about from the start. This way he or she can easily decide whether to keep on reading it or not.

A field guide should also target a specific audience. This makes the information clearer since it is specific and not too broad. Like say in the non-runner marathon guide, the target is non-runners who are training for a marathon, if the author were to venture into the training for the elderly to run a marathon or non-runners who are trying to lose weight in the same guide then the topic becomes too wide.

Another essential component of an effective field guide is images. Images enable the reader to visualize the information provided. They can sometimes be used in place of the text if the reader does not want to go over the whole text again while on the field or if they want just a quick overview. For example in The Basics guide, after reading through one can just look at the pictures to refresh their minds quickly and not have to go through the whole text.

As Williamson said in the post just before, a field guide is meant to be used on the field. So generally it should be clear, precise and to the point. There is no time to go into unnecessary details in the field or to try to translate hidden meanings in the text. The basic guide is an example of an on the field guide. It’s written in note form and every step is accompanied by a photograph that shows exactly what is happening. The one on training for a marathon is however not really an on the field guide. It’s scene is preparation for a marathon so it cannot be brought into a marathon.

Janette Wambere.

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