Technical Communication Student Contributor

  • 21 years old, single
  • Technical communication major, Restaurant, Hotel, and Institutional Management (RHIM) minor
  • Intern in the Communications Services Department at his university
  • Uses Facebook and Twitter
  • Helped the Communication Services Department set up its Facebook page

“I’m learning how to apply my class work to real-world communication problems.”

Rick began as a RHIM major, but when he took a technical writing course he realized how interesting the work is.  He has always enjoyed writing but didn’t know one could actually make money as a writer.  He decide to minor in RHIM so that he would have an understanding of the field, but bring strong communication skills to his work so that he can quickly move up in the workplace. 

Rick is taking a document design class that uses Adobe® InDesign® to create documents.  His project, creating restaurant menus, required him to design two menus for one restaurant and then test their usability and format for suitability to the client. In doing the work Rick found that InDesign presented a wide array of useful features for small document/one-page design. He would like to share the techniques he developed to do his designs, because working in this software provides the communicator with a very wide selection of tools.  He is particularly impressed with the ability of InDesign to create object libraries so that the work of a communicator in the restaurant industry can maximize his or her effectiveness. 

Rick submitted his assignment and his instructor, impressed with his work, suggested that he consider looking at the processes he used in creating the documents. The instructor asks each student not just to produce a page, but to also describe the steps and justify them as to efficiency and what principles of technical communication they exemplified.  Rick’s paper about his work was much longer than the work itself, and he would like to share it with others.

Rick’s instructor suggested that he redo the assignment after he completed his usability testing.  The tests showed no significant differences between how customers might respond to the designs, although the designs were quite different (used different fonts, sizes, colors, and images). Because Rick had managed all his graphics using the object libraries, he was able to revise the two documents quickly and effectively. That process of revision is one that he would like to share with other students. 

Key Attributes

  • Has never published information and is unclear about the process
  • Has tried sharing information on Facebook, but finds it an inappropriate platform
  • Thinks of himself as an innovator in the use of tools. 
  • Strong sense of design and layout
  • Loves to create templates for documents and work with graphic elements
  • Willing to invest the hours in tweaking the design of a page and testing its effectiveness
  • Wants to put his knowledge of InDesign to work for others


  • Rick’s professor suggests that he revise the paper and research content management and then contribute it as an article on TCBOK.

Informational Needs/Goals

  • Wants to build a database of knowledge of InDesign techniques for technical communicators
  • Seeks to publish his ideas so other students can share and contribute
  • Needs to know how to contribute to TCBOK