Group Document Analysis Memo

Group—Document Analysis Memo. Post below:


To: Robert P Danberg, Publisher
From: Darren Ng
Date: 05/31/2010
Subject: Group—Document Analysis Memo

Although field guides are flexible and adaptable, they need to contain several prevailing factors in order to achieve success. As a group, we discussed and analyzed different field guide materials to come up with our assertion. This assertion would, hopefully, guide or assist the process of creating a field guide. We believe that an effective and successful field guide should include the following: simplicity, relationship between image and text and structure. More descriptive details are made within this memorandum.

In a text, no matter a field guide or even a research paper, simplicity is always required to capture the reader’s attention or interest. This corresponds especially to a field guide as attention can easily be drifted from the text. At the end of the day a field guide is to educate or supply useful information, and complications in language will often cause distorted information or lack of interest. Within this context, vocabulary should also be noted. Vocabulary is a fragment of simplicity. If language of a particular domain is used, some explanation will always be handy either to educate a person or it can act as a friendly reminder. For instance, the “Core Tools” guide could have been made much easier to read if it based its language off simplicity. It is understood that the guide was directed at a more knowledgeable person of the domain but such information could have been decomposed to communicate the same information. If the author was able to do this, the guide could have targeted a much larger audience.

Relationship between image and text

Visual aid is part of the implementation of rhetoric. It must be used precisely on the situation and the message trying to be conveyed. However, most of the time visual aid will not come out negatively. Visual representation will more likely enhance the understanding of the domain and reflect an example of reality. The “Bird Identification” guide is a primary example. With the help of visual representations such as the physique of the bird, it allowed the reader to have a chance to indentify a bird in the real world. Hence, it was the intention of the author.


Structure is essential to the success of the field guide. The structure should be chronological to generate a flow in the text. The structure should be able to motivate the reader to read on as the order of the text develops into a conclusion. Just like a textbook, information should be given from simplistic to complex. The marathon guide is an outstanding example in this case. The flow describes the process of training in steps that build up from the easiest to the hardest. It makes the piece an exceptionally easy text to follow and refer to.

Moreover, the points mentioned above are the most essential factors that we have concluded as a group. Let this be a guide into allowing a stronger and more prevailing field guide to be produced. But in order to accomplish the three factors to the fullest, keep in mind that the domain of your information needs to be fully researched and completed. In addition, appropriate topics for field guides need to be made for this guide to be useful. Suggestions for field guides should range from anything educational from teaching your audience to teach to guiding a tennis player to a perfect stroke. The reason behind this should be self-explanatory through the three main points: simplicity, relationship between image and text, and structure.

After reading this material, let me know of your approval and any suggestions to be made.

Darren Ng

cc: Group Members

“Group – Document Analysis Memo”

Date: May 31, 2010
To: Robert P. Danberg, Professor
From: Yunmi Hong, Student of Binghamton University
Subject: Document Analysis Memo

Upon contemplating what features of successful field guides and suitable texts are necessary to use as basis, we have developed three criterions most crucial for appropriate deliverance. Many different factors can play a role on this production, but nevertheless, we have made a decision on the following three:
• Extreme knowledge on topic
• Understandable language aided with visuals
• Breakdown/specific explanation of subjects
These three factors must coincide with one another to produce a good field guide for anyone with any topic of interest. Explanation on each factor will follow now.

Extreme Knowledge on Topic
When writing to explain about any subject matter, without incredible knowledge to lead the idea, the reader is bound to get lost within the explanation. We have decided that this is the most important factor when writing any field guide, because knowledge on the subject is the foundation of the writing piece itself.

Understandable Language Aided with Visuals
It doesn’t matter how smart your audience is or how skilled they are with their vocabulary, if the writing piece is written in language foreign to many the writer has failed. Any field guide must be written so that the audience can understand and be on the same page as the writer. It helps when uncommon vocabulary words are defined, and furthermore, visual aid is accompanied with the explanation. Visual aid can play an imperative role solely due to the fact that pictures can better explain a subject than 200 words. Ever heard of the expression, “a picture can mean a thousand words?”

Breakdown of Subjects
The breakdowns of subjects are like bulletins of main idea points. Upon debate, we have anonymously decided that this factor also plays a vital role. No matter how good a piece of writing is, sometimes the reader gets lost. The point of having breakdown of subjects is to help the reader remember the most important ideas, even though they forget everything else. Hopefully that doesn’t happen, but breaking large sums of ideas into bulletins help clear the misunderstanding or confusion in the air. Everything made simpler.

The three factors explained above are good factors to keep in mind when producing a field guide of your own. But, we have also decided that there are pitfalls to be watchful of. Extreme knowledge is great but make sure the knowledge is kept within the subject. Having too much information on a subject may lead to a distraction within the writing. Understandable language is great but don’t talk to the audience like they are stupid. Keep in mind that your audience has some kind of basic information of the subject matter. Don’t define everything. Lastly, within breakdown of subjects please make sure to only breakdown subjects that are important. Don’t break it down to a million topics, which will defeat the whole purpose of that strategy. We conclude that there are factors to keep in mind and there are pitfalls to keep an eyeful watch on.

After reviewing this material, please let us know if it meets with your approval.

cc: Y. Hong

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

As a group we have discovered that there are three fundamental qualities that all effective memos have in common. They are:
1) Having a Designated Audience
2) Having a Clear and Definite Purpose
3) Having an Appropriate Balance of Images and Text

Having a Designated Audience
An effective guide has a designated audience and is written in a way that is specifically suitable for that audience. The non-runner’s guide to finishing a marathon was written for the inexperienced runner. The bird guide was written for the novice birder. Both guides distinguished a specific audience, which helped to standardize other elements of the article including vocabulary use/use of text, level of the overall depth of the article, and inclusion of visual aids within. Without fully understanding whom the reader is, it is impossible to prescribe a tool for his/her advancement.

Having a Clear and Definite Purpose
A valuable guide is also one that serves its intended purpose. Is it meant to be a manual providing step-by-step instructions of how to do something, such as the “Complete Techniques” guide? Or, is it meant to be a compilation of research that helps the most advanced in the field such as, “Tools of the Old and New Stone Age.” A guide is formatted and developed based on its intended purpose. Without a clear purpose a guide will be plagued with rhetorical, domain and content issues.

Having an Appropriate Balance of Images and Text
The amount and use of images greatly affect the impact of a guide as well. Two examples of this are “A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians” and the “Complete Techniques” guide. Section II of the field guide to reptiles and amphibians includes no images and dense paragraphs. As a result, it may lack clarity. Contrarily, “Jaques Pepin’s Complete Techniques” uses the most images per page of text, depicting all processes and end results. Both extremes differ based on the topic being covered, the intended purpose of the guide, and the audience being targeted. Using images can be beneficial (and is often beneficial) if done correctly, but when overused or underused they can be confusing, This is why it is important to incorporate only visuals that relate to the text being covered and only ones that exist for the sake of clarity or reference.

The above are three criterions we believe must be present in order for a field guide to be effective. Please feel free to respond with any suggestions or further inquiry.

Date: 07/12/10
To: Robert Danberg, Publisher/Professor
From: Lena Hong
Subject: Document Analysis Memo

From the reviewing of all the different field guides, and picking out the pros and cons of a field guide. We have narrowed down the pros list to a few bullet points that we thought that these more significant than the other points. Some may not agree with what we have concluded but we know that these three points are what is going to make the best, easy to read and effective field guide.

- Deciding on the age group
- Knowing about the subject from top to bottom
- Having clear and understanding visuals to aid the readers

Deciding on the age group

Having an age group to work around is very helpful because if you are writing a field guide directed to children and you write one with difficult terms; it will not attract the children. An example would be the Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer Guide is only directed to a specific age group. Younger crowds would not be able to follow a sixteen-week training program. Therefore, that is why a specific age group is important. In our personal preference, other age groups can use a field guide that is written towards a younger age group. As for a field guide that was written towards older people is a disadvantage because the younger crowd would not be able to understand the guide directed to the older crowd.

Knowing about the subject from top to bottom

We believe in order to bring a successful field guide; you have to have full knowledge of the topic. If you only know half the history or facts about the topic, it will hurt your field guide because the vague guide will turn off people. An example of a great field guide that shows a large amount of knowledge is the “9. Understand Feathers” field guide. The person who published this guide showed a great amount of knowledge because the publisher presented a strong introduction with many comparisons between their feathers depending on the types of birds. They were able to get their message across without leaving holes in their guide.

Having clear and understanding visuals to aid the readers

The most significant part of a useful and beneficial field guide is to have clear visuals. Everyone tend to get attracted to texts when there are clear visuals. We believe that if there are readers out there who judges books by their covers, having clear visuals inside and out of a field guide is a great interest booster. Great examples of clear and understandable visuals are in the “Jaques Pepin’s Complete Techniques” field guide, it had many images of systematic processes of his idea. Even if you were to put images and disagreed with us, the only thing that the visuals can do for you is benefit you. Adding visuals to your field guide will never hurt you.

Overall, we believe that in order to have a successful field guide you need these three characteristics because without these points, no one will have any interest in your field guide. Remember, it is not what we want in a field guide; it is what the readers want to see and read in a field guide.

If you have any questions or concerns reguarding the ideas, please feel free to me.

Lena Hong


Date: July 7, 2010
To: Robert Danberg, publisher of field guides
From: Andrew J Williamson
Subject: Document Analysis

After reviewing the field guides that you sent for analysis, I have determined several aspects that should be used to make a good field guide. Several of these include, but are not limited to:

-graphics that aid in explanation
-language that is generally accessible
-use “on-the-field.”

Use of Graphics

Images has been shown to help readers to understand what a writer is talking about, giving the reader something to see and look at to visually understand. Field guides can make proper use of this in several different ways. They can use a picture to give the reader an image of what it is they are looking for. The birder watcher field guide uses this in the full-page picture of the bird with different parts of the body pointed out. It is using this image to show the differences and unique points of this bird, in order to find it better. Without the picture, the reader may be able to tell you the differences, but could not be able to point it out on a real bird. Another good use of graphics in a field guide is in the non-runners field guide, where it makes a chart for the training the runner will do while following the guide. This gives the reader an easy reference that can be flipped to and have all the mileages they will need to know. Using a chart to consolidate information for readers ease is another good way to use graphics in field guides.

Use of Language

As every subject has its own terms and sayings, it is important for a field guide to use language that mostly anyone can understand. If these field guides are aimed at people who are a “third of the way there,” then they may understand of the terms, but not truly reason out everything that an expert would be able to say. The bird watching field guide makes sure to use language that all readers would be able to understand. This is unlike the stone-age tools guide, which jumps into using expert terms like “flaking” and “nodule” that person who is just getting into may not understand. Even in cases where it is important to use the specified terms, there are ways to make it easier on the reader. The best way is to put all these terms in a glossary, like the last field guide. This allows the guide to go into detail, but still make it easy to understand.

Use “On-the-field”

As the name entails, these are field guides, meaning that they should be useful on the field. While it is useful to have guides that are read and kept at home, these guides should have the ability to be used in the circumstances that they are talking about. An example of this not working out is the non-runners guide, where it is meant to be used during the training period, but not while training or running the marathon. A field guide where it is good to be used as a field guide is the cookbook, where you are referring to it as you do each step of the cooking.

If you have any questions about my thoughts on field guides, you are more than welcome to contact me about them. Thank you for your time.

Andrew J Williamson

Date: 7/13/10
To: Robert Danberg, Publisher/Professor
From: Janette Wambere
Subject: Document Analysis Memo

In my opinion, although the main objective for most field guides is to inform, the characteristics that distinguish a good one from a bad one most of the time differ depending on the content and the intended audience.

However, there are two things that should be considered in all field guides irrespective of what they are about. And they are:
• The audience
• The presentation

Below I will go further into details and explain why these two are very important.

The audience
The audience is probably the most important factor to consider when writing a field guide because if they are not satisfied then the whole purpose of the author is not achieved.

A field guide is written for the audience and thus a guide and its author have to understand who the target audience is and what they expect from the guide. Then they have to ensure that these expectations have been met.

Therefore a good field guide is one that satisfies the audience by being:
- Easy to read
- Easy to understand
- Full of content / informative
- Interesting
- Useful

The presentation
The introduction, the content, the step by step procedures, the images all the way to the conclusion, all these is part of presentation. The reader should be able to look at the guide and want to read it. Whether it is because of the images or the way the work is broken down into sections or the catchy title and subtitles, it all has to be presented in a way that will interest the audience.

The language used is also a big part of presentation. Language should be used to convey a message. It can also be used in identifying the domain. By looking at the language used one should be able to tell who the intended audience is for example simple words and short sentences could be for children, and hard biological terms for a doctor or a medical student.

The structure is another important part. The way the text is broken down into paragraphs or in point form, whether there are images or not, whether the sentences are long or short. Take the example of The Basics, the structure is step by step and every step is accompanied by a picture. The sentences are not too long and easy to understand. All these characteristics make this a good guide.

Visuals like graphs, pictures, tables and figures are all also an important part of presentation. They aid in enhancing the understanding of the audience of a particular concept.


With the above in mind, if you do decide to write a field guide, it is always good to start thinking of what to write early. Allowing yourself time to develop your idea and even room to change your mind if need be.

For a topic you could start by thinking of what you are interested in. Everyone writes more and better when writing about something they actually have a passion for.

Sometimes even the audience can help decide a topic. For example you can decide to target a group that you relate to, like maybe write a guide about a hobby that you have. Like the author of the bird watching guide is most likely a bird watcher since he knows a lot about it. Also it can be something you have done a lot, like say a person who writes books for children, knows a lot about this audience and would be able to write say a bird watching book that children could easily follow and understand.

I hope this information is useful and can aid you in making your decision.

Janette Wambere.

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