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2014

Genre Analysis

INDEPTH ANALYSIS OF SOFTWARE MANUALS


JOSH THORSON

ENC 1102| Wolcott

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Contents
2) Introduction 2) Setting 3) Layout 4) Cover Page Pictures 4) Participants 5) Purpose 5) Conclusion 7) Citations

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Introduction
The definition of genre is extremely controversial, throughout grade school we were taught to think of genre as a way to categorize different types of text and put them in their corresponding group. However, Amy Devitt, a professor of English from the University of Kansas, says that we need to forget this elementary definition of genre, also that genre is and never should be a form of categorizing because not all text may fit into one category. Devitts definition of genre is: Genre is a response to recurring rhetorical situation. Genres develop, then, because they respond appropriately to situations that writers encounter repeatedly. (Devitt, 567). In other words genre is effective text that comes out of repeating conversations within a discourse community. Throughout this analysis I will be using Devitts definition of genre, I will be looking into the software developer discourse community, and I will be discovering who, how, and why they use/ write software user manuals.

Setting
I stumbled upon a few software manuals while I was looking up certain genres for the computer science discourse community. I took a special interest into software developing and I found a plethora of software manuals. I found it to be extremely helpful that all of these user manuals were online and free for everyone to download and look at. So it is very obvious that the companies want the users or the people who purchased there software to be able to have easy access and know how to use the software. I ended up with three interesting Software user manuals; a manual for a program called Sony Vegas Pro which is a video editing software, a manual for Apples IPad and its software, and Adobes Photoshop CC. All of these have caught my eye because I dont own any of them and I thought it would be interesting to learn a thing or

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two about them. Sony Vegas Pro is some sort of video or maybe picture editing software. While Apples IPad is very popular I dont own one so I thought it would be fun to take a look at the user manual. You may be thinking the IPad isnt really software its more of a physical product, but the OS (Operating System) is and the user manual talked about, in great detail, how to navigate and use the software. Adobes Photoshop CC software is a very popular photo editing software, and the software manual has a bunch of tutorials and helpful tricks.

Layout
All three of the user manuals (Vegas Pro, IPad manual, and Photoshop CC) have a nice title/ cover page which include a nice graphic (picture) or simply the logo of the company. All of the user manuals are very lengthy with over 130 pages for Apples manual, over 300 for Sony Vegas Pros manual, and terrifying 1000 pages for Adobes Photoshop CC. They also include a contents page so that the users will be able to navigate the lengthy manuals with ease. The three of the genres include some sort of an introduction that briefly describes the software. They use a bigger size font for the subheadings and a smaller size font for the content. Along with a great deal of text they also include many pictures, we have all heard the saying pictures are worth a thousand words so these pictures really help the user understand what the software manual is trying to say or teach. The genres also include some sort of parts list to show the reader what their product comes with. Somethings that are different include: Sonys user manual has an index and a glossary at the end of the manual which is good because it helps outsiders of the community understand what the insiders are trying to say. While Apples IPad user manual has an appendix at the end of the manual. Apple also used a light blue color font for the heading so that people could differentiate the topics from content. While Sonys and Adobes software manual uses the same black colored font throughout the whole manual.

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Cover page Pictures

Figure1.1
Apples IPad user guide cover page for iOS 7 (left). Sonys Vegas Pro user manual cover page (right).

Participants
Im pretty sure that software developers are the ones who wrote or helped write these software user manuals (who else would know more about the software). Also I think its pretty clear that this genre is for anyone who would like to read the software manual whether it be for reference or just out of curiosity. Like I talked about before anyone can get a hold of these software manuals which makes the participants endless. However, those who dont have a

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computer/ internet access would not be able to access them, but why would they be wanting to look at software if they cant even use the software. All in all, the participants or those who would come in contact with such a genre could range from those who bought or have the software to those looking to buy or get the software.

Purpose
The purpose of this genre is to inform those who dont know much about the software and how the companys software is meant to be used or how the software developers meant for the software to be used. The basic topic of this form of genre is to teach or to inform the reader how to perform specific tasks while using the program. These software manuals are meant to answer the questions of those who seek help with troubleshooting a certain piece of software. Or as Devitt would say a response to recurring rhetorical situation (Devitt, 567). The Software manuals being the response and the questions that the community of users ask being the recurring rhetorical situations. Overall, this genre helps the discourse community of software developers communicate with the outsiders or those not associated with the discourse community. The use this genre to inform the consumers about all of the features that the software has to offer.

Conclusion
After doing a lot of research into this certain genre I would hate to have to write one of these lengthy in depth software manuals. However, these software manuals do provide a lot of useful information to the outsiders of the software developer discourse community. The software manuals did a variety of things from help users troubleshoot certain problems they might have with the software, provide a parts list, include safety tips for using the software, demonstrate how

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to use the software correctly to get the most out of it , and maybe some system maintenance requirements. Overall, I have learned a lot about this specific genre within the discourse community I want to join. I found writing this paper has also brought light to the types of genres that the software development discourse community use.

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Works Cited
Adobe Photoshop Help and Tutorials. Retrieved from <http://helpx.adobe.com/pdf/photoshop_reference.pdf >

Cook, Ian. N.p.. Web. 12 Feb 2014. <http://www.csus.edu/wac/WAC/Students/Major Sites/computer_science.html>. Devitt, Amy J. "Generalizing About Genre: New Conceptions of an Old Concept." College Composition and Communication. 4th ed. Vol. 44. N.p.: National Council of Teachers of English, 1993. 573-86. Print.

Ipad User Guide. Retrieved from <http://manuals.info.apple.com/MANUALS/1000/MA1595/en_US/ipad_user_guide.pdf>

Vegas Pro User Manual. Retrieved from <http://dspcdn.sonycreativesoftware.com/manuals/vegaspro12.0.670_manual_enu.pdf>.