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#InfographicInspiration: Put CRAP in Your Document Design

#InfographicInspiration: Put CRAP in Your Document Design published on 14 Comments on #InfographicInspiration: Put CRAP in Your Document Design Login Help videos are free to Virginia Tech students with your VT.EDU login. Start at the VT.EDU login page to access these resources.

One of my favorite ways to talk about strong document design is the CRAP method. CRAP stands for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. Using all four of these elements helps give your work a polished appearance and catches readers’ attention.

This week’s #InfographicInspiration (from Paper Leaf Designs) gives you a quick overview of all four elements. It is worth saving for future use, and try applying it to your professional biography assignment before you turn it in on Monday.

For a more detailed explanation of the CRAP elements, watch the video, Understanding the PARC system ( was apparently afraid to say CRAP, so they spell it backwards).


Note: This infographic has a text-based transcript.


#WednesdayWrite: Consider Your Code of Ethics

#WednesdayWrite: Consider Your Code of Ethics published on 22 Comments on #WednesdayWrite: Consider Your Code of Ethics

Ethics CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick YoungsonFind the codes of ethic for your profession. For instance, an electrical engineer would focus on the IEEE Code of Ethics, and a biologist might focus on the Code of Ethics for the Society for Conservation Biology. Once you identify the principles for your field, consider the following questions:

  • Where do you find principles explicitly related to writing or communication in the code of ethics for your field?
  • Where are connections less obvious?
  • Are there ideas about writing and communication that you think they are missing?

After you analyze the code for your field, share what you have found in a comment on this post. Be sure to identify your field and link to your code, and then talk about anything interesting or surprising that you found about writing and communication in your field’s ethical code. Alternately, you can consider anything that is missing from your field’s code.


Photo credit: Ethics CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson.


#TuesdayTutorial: Managing Your Online Reputation

#TuesdayTutorial: Managing Your Online Reputation published on 30 Comments on #TuesdayTutorial: Managing Your Online Reputation

As you work on your professional bios this week, you should also think about your online presence. Everything you put online has the potential to influence potential employers and colleagues. You probably already know that you should google your name to make sure there are no unfortunate messages found.

Today’s tutorial is included in the infographic (below) from a Swiss digital reputation management and security company. A related article, Protecting Your Online Reputation: 4 Things You Need to Know, is available from Mashable.

Steps 1 and 2 in the infographic explain why managing your online identity is important, and Steps 3 and 4 outline what you should do to ensure your online reputation helps you (rather than hurts you).

In addition to commenting on the ideas in the infographic, you can try some of the suggestions to find out what your online reputation is like and decide if you need to make changes. You can tell us what you find in the comments, if you like.


Note: This infographic has a transcript.


Peer Review & Submission of Professional Bios

Peer Review & Submission of Professional Bios published on

This is the post for the week of January 29, 2018.

Note for This Week

Readings for This Week

Tasks for This Week

Here’s what you need to do for this week:

  1. Review the resources that can help you improve your Professional Bio:
    1. The advice articles
    2. The examples
    3. The LinkedIn Summary article. Your professional bio, with light revision, can frequently do double duty as the summary for your LinkedIn profile.
    4. The Word Choice in the Job Search infographic. These same tips apply to your bio.
    5. The Official Biography, from The Tongue and Quill. Useful for those pursuing military careers.
  2. Finish the draft of your Professional Bio, using the examples and advice on the assignment as well as in the readings (above) on this post.
  3. By 11:59PM on Wednesday, January 31, post a rough draft of your bio to your Writing Group in Canvas in the Group Feedback on Professional Bios Discussion. Additional instructions are in the Discussion.
  4. By 11:59PM on Friday, February 2, post feedback in Canvas to all your group members in the Group Feedback on Professional Bios Discussion. Remember to provide constructive feedback, following the advice on the Writing Groups page and the information in the #WeekendWatch video, Peer Review: Commenting Strategies. Additional instructions are in the Discussion.
  5. By 11:59PM on Friday, February 2, write your 02/02 Labor Log in Canvas. The grace period for your log entry ends at 11:59 PM on Monday, February 5.
  6. Revise your bio during the weekend and Monday, following the advice of the members of your group.
  7. By 11:59PM on Monday, February 5, submit your bio in the Professional Bios Assignment in Canvas. If you need additional time, submit your bio by the end of the grace period, at 11:59PM on Thursday, February 8.




Note: The infographic in today’s post needs a text-based transcript. See the Optional Accessibility Transcript Activity for more details.


#WeekendWatch: Peer Review Commenting Strategies

#WeekendWatch: Peer Review Commenting Strategies published on 15 Comments on #WeekendWatch: Peer Review Commenting Strategies

Next week, you will share a draft of your professional bio with your writing group, and then you’ll provide feedback on the drafts of the others in your group. This video from the University of Minnesota Writing Studies program will help you figure out how to provide constructive and helpful feedback.

The MIT video on our Writing Groups page gives you some overarching suggestions for what peer review looks like. This University of Minnesota video gives you six specific ways that you can give your writing group members feedback. If you are unsure how to make constructive comments, spend five minutes on this video. You’ll know exactly the kind of comments I’m looking for once it’s finished.

Peer Review: Commenting Strategies (video, 5m4s)

Note: This video has closed captioning, so it does not need a transcript.


Grades on the Group Preferences Survey

Grades on the Group Preferences Survey published on

There have been some questions about the grades posted tonight for the Spring 2018 Group Preferences Survey.

The survey was item #4 on the list of tasks on the post for the first week of class on the course website. The survey was also mentioned in the third bullet point under Notes on the post for this week.

The survey used a Google Form (because it allowed me to sort responses in a spreadsheet). It wasn’t an assignment in Canvas. I added it as a “No Submission” assignment in Canvas to give people credit for completing it. Basically, if you filled out the survey, you earned a Complete (a checkmark in the Canvas Gradebook).

In the long run, missing one Discussion assignment won’t make much of a difference in the course; but I like to make sure I give folks credit for what they do.


#FridayFact: The Best Bio Isn’t About You

#FridayFact: The Best Bio Isn’t About You published on 21 Comments on #FridayFact: The Best Bio Isn’t About You

You? by Shawn Rossi on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 licenseToday’s #FridayFact may seem contradictory. How can your professional bio NOT be about you? The answer is that it’s all about perspective—or to be more specific, about your reader’s perspective.

The goal for your professional bio (just like the goal for a resume or job application cover letter) is not simply to present all the facts of your life. Instead, it’s to present information about your life in such a way that convinces your readers something about yourself. You might be trying to convince

  • Coworkers that you will collaborate well with them.
  • Upper management that you are a great asset for the company.
  • Potential clients that you have what it takes to meet their needs.
  • The public that you care about something (like the environment or human rights).

In other words, you are telling your readers about yourself, but you are presenting the information in such a way that shows you care about what your readers think.

The Copyblogger article “How to Write an About Page” explains this point well, advising writers to try the following:

  • Talk about the problems you solve.
  • Talk about how you can help.
  • Talk about what they’re interested in.

As they conclude, “Yes, it’s a spot for you to talk about yourself—but only in the context of how you serve your readers.”

As you think about your professional bio, consider how you can present details about yoursle in ways that will persuade your readers something about yourself. You can even suggest some strategies you can try in the comments here to get some feedback from your classmates.


Photo credit: You? by Shawn Rossi on Flickr, used under a CC-BY 2.0 license


Grades on the 1/19 Labor Log

Grades on the 1/19 Labor Log published on

LOLCAT says, "It's an A paper... Seriously."I have graded all of the 1/19 Labor Logs. In this post, I’ll comment on how you all did and what you can do if you are not happy with your grade. Please read the information carefully and note the related dates.

My Grading Strategy

First, let me explain a little about my strategy. To speed up the grading, I make individual comments on your work when there is something you need to spend more time on, and then I post an overall summary with feedback for everyone here on the course website. This process lets me tell you all about the trends in the class at once, instead of typing things out on 88 different projects.

I use this system for all of the work in the course. That said, I probably will not post again on the Labor Logs, since you understand the assignment now.

Overall Feedback for the Class

  • Complete logs: Most of you did a great job following the instructions, including all of the required information about your work during the first week. I know that the work was light last week. I will expect to see more detail from some of you in future posts.
  • Work on document design: Some of the logs could be improved with more attention to document design.Using headings and chunking your text will make it easier for you to find information in your logs later in the term, when you are working on your final exam. You can read more about headings and chunking in Ten Ways to Improve Your Writing.

Revision for the 1/19 Labor Logs

I have reopened the assignment so that those of you who want to revise can improve your project. Follow the guidelines below to resubmit your work.

  1. If I made a mistake
    Send me an email message or a private message in Canvas with the details. I’ll fix it.
  2. If there were problems with the content or design of your log
    Revise your project to improve your work, adding whatever is missing or tweaking the design. Resubmit your project, and I will regrade your work.
  3. If you did not submit your log at all
    It is too late. Be sure to turn in all the remaining projects if you want to pass the course.
  4. If something else is going on
    Send me an email message or a private message on Canvas with the details. I’ll see what I can do to help you.

Revision Deadline

By 11:59PM on Friday, February 2, submit your 1/19 Labor Log revision. If that deadline is an issue, let me know BEFORE 11:59PM on Friday, February 2.



#InfographicInspiration: Infographic Resumes

#InfographicInspiration: Infographic Resumes published on 29 Comments on #InfographicInspiration: Infographic Resumes

The Professional Bios that you are working on are a kind of career document, like a resume. You are summarizing your qualifications, showing what you bring to a company or organization, and demonstrating how you will fit in with coworkers or what you can do for potential clients.

Infographic resumes focus on these same goals, using visuals and document design to highlight the author’s qualifications and accomplishments. These flashy career documents have limited usefulness, of course. Most companies look for more traditional resume presentations.

Please do NOT think that I am recommending that you redo your resume as an infographic. That said, you can gain some interesting perspectives from looking at how document design and visual elements are used in these documents.

Take a look at the infographic resume below for Geoff Hamby and consider how the design and layout highlight the information in the document. You can also consider The Muse’s 4 Rules for Creating a Killer Infographic Resume.

What do you notice in these visual resumes that you can use to make information in your professional bio stand out? How can you use document design and visual elements to present your bio while still fitting into the traditional expectations for a professional bio?

Geoff Hamby Infographic Resume



Note: This infographic needs a text-based transcript. See the Optional Accessibility Transcript Activity for more details.


Writing Groups Are Ready

Writing Groups Are Ready published on

Writing Groups for the term are now set up in Canvas. When you go to the group messages in Discussions, you will now automatically be with the members of your group.

I sorted everyone who filled out the Spring 2018 Group Preferences Survey according to the preferences indicated. The survey closed at 11:59PM Tuesday. Here are some details about the groups:

  • There weren’t enough Night Owls or Early Morning people for an entire group, so those folks were placed in an Evening group and a Morning group, respectively.
  • There also weren’t enough people who finished early in the categories, so those folks were added into either steady or complicated groups.
  • 23 people didn’t fill out the survey at all 😢 These people were sorted randomly into “no preference” groups.
  • The group names are fairly unimaginative. If your group wants to change the name, decide in the Group Ground Rules Discussion in Canvas. When you have a new name decided, have one member of your group email me ( with the old name and the new name.

Now that the groups are set, you can begin work on the Tasks listed in Step 4 of this week’s post.


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