Technical Communication Introduction


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Portfolios

This page reviews details about technical writing portfolios and will help you design your own. All technical communicators' careers can benefit from a well-constructed portfolio, whether they are just out of college or established in the field.

 

Portfolio Basics

 

Portfolio Design

 

Portfolio Use

 

 


Portfolio Basics

A technical writing portfolio is a collection of professional documents that demonstrates your technical communication skills. It will showcase your work and skills, including your abilities to:

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You can use it before, during, and after an interview to sell your writing, editing, and design skills.

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Portfolio Design

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You can format your portfolio in print or electronically. The format should be flexible to allow you to change samples. Consider whether you will leave the portfolio or take it home with you when choosing a format.

Print Format

Print portfolios can be placed in a quality binder or leather portfolio with rings, but should be attractive and professional. The back cover can contain pockets to include additional copies of your resume or other handouts (“giveaways”) interviewers can keep. You can also create different covers depending on the type of job you are seeking. If you have created online documents, print them out. Use quality white paper and clear crisp fonts. Some recommend that you use plastic covers for each two-page spread.

Electronic Format

Electronic portfolios include Adobe Acrobat PDF files, Web pages, and CD-ROM discs. Online portfolios are useful for displaying online work and make it easy for anyone to view your samples, but they should be easy to download.

A CD-ROM

To make a CD-ROM, you will need a CD-R drive and a scanner for when a file isn't available. It should not require a specific operating system or software. Files on a CD-ROM should be in the following formats:

  • Adobe Acrobat
  • HTML
  • Postscript
  • PowerPoint
  • Windows help files
  • Word
  • Create a title page or opening screen that introduces the portfolio and contains links to the files. Provide an easy way to navigate. Print a CD label for the disc and case that provides your name, contact information, and instructions for opening the CD.

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    Include section dividers (made from cover stock) and/or tabs. Clearly label each sample. Organize the samples in the order of skills you want to showcase, chronologically (most recent to earliest), by company, by content, type of document, or type of writing (e.g. editing, online help, desktop publishing, feature articles, etc.). Another method of organization is by the type of file:  printed documents, electronic documents (e.g. Web pages or help files), and presentations (e.g. PowerPoint slides).  In selecting an organization, consider how easy it will be to update.

    Label and introduce each sample to provide background and context, including

    1. title

    2. description

    3. instructor or supervisor

    4. date completed and time frame

    5. objectives, purpose

    6. intended audience

    7. your contributions and whether it was a team or individual project

    8.  software/hardware used

    9.  feedback/comments

    10.  results, special features

    11.  any challenges (e.g. budget, time constraints)

    12.  notes (description of what is on various pages, omissions, etc.)

    Use an attractive, consistent page design for these pages.

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    Portfolio Use

    There are two options for presenting your portfolio. You can

    Be prepared to present and discuss the documents. Some recommend having extra samples and resumes to leave after the interview. 

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    Technical Communication Introduction ©2006 Damien Wilker, Wright State University