Project: 500-Word Summary Final Phase

Your first project in our class is due before class next week. This post describes the overall deliverable (finished product) and how to submit your work for credit.

The audience of your summary would be peers–people with a similar education and professional experience. Jargon is allowed, but acronyms should be telescoped in proceeding parentheses, such as RTFM (Read the F—g Manual) or TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch).

The layout for your 500-Word Summary document should be as follows:

TO: Prof. Jason W. Ellis
FROM: Your Name
DATE: Due Date
SUBJECT: 500-Word Summary of Author’s-Last-Name’s “Title of Article”

Begin your 500-word article summary with a paragraph that we can call the executive summary or abstract. This paragraph is, in a sense, the summary of your summary. It should: 1) Identify the author, title of article, and the title of the journal in which it was published, 2) what is the main argument or point of the article, and 3) what are the relevant supporting points or evidence that you will discuss in your summary (think of this last sentence as a road map for the paragraphs that follow).

The paragraphs that follow should elaborate on the details that the author uses to support their argument. This might include background and context-specific information that is needed to understand the argument, examples that support the main point of the article, data that supports the argument, etc. You may use your knowledge to discuss the article’s argument and supporting evidence, but you do not need to cite any outside material. Cite the article being summarized only, please.

In your summary’s discussion section, you need to include at least one quote and parenthetical citation like we used in today’s Daily Writing assignment.

In the concluding paragraph of our summary, you should elaborate on whether you found the article persuasive or not. Explain why or why not the article is convincing. Consider the quality of the examples, counterarguments that you might imagine, counterexamples that you know about, and the authority of the author(s)–if you consider this last point you will need to look them up to learn more about their background and expertise.

Close your 500-word summary with a section titled “References” followed on the next line by an APA-formatted bibliographic citation of the article that you are summarizing. See below for an example of your document’s layout, and then see the end of this post for instructions about submitting your work.

Your completed 500-Word Article Summary should have a layout like this:


Instead of asking you to submit your work as a Word docx file as originally described on the syllabus, I would like everyone to create a new Post on our OpenLab site to submit their 500-Word Summary. This puts your work on OpenLab so that it is public-facing and easier for you to assemble into your Portfolio. Follow the steps below for posting your work on our OpenLab site.

step 1
step 2
step 3
step 4

On the final step, you will need to click Publish in the upper right corner. OpenLab will ask you to confirm that you are ready to publish by pressing Publish again. After a moment, it will give you a confirmation that your post has been published.

To confirm that your work has been published, click on “Fall 2019 Technical Writing ENG2575 E270 with Professor Ellis” at the top of the page to return to our site. Then, look at the left menu and click “Student Work” to expand that menu item, and then, click “500-Word Article Summary” to view all student-submitted work. Yours should be listed here. If you don’t see it, try submitting again. If you have any questions, email Prof. Ellis (jellis at

Submit your summary before arriving to class on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Daily Writing: Magazine Article Summary, Cited Quote, and Bibliographic Citation

Write a memo that gives a brief summary of the article that you read for today’s class, quotes one sentence from the article with a parenthetical citation, and provides an APA-formatted bibliographic citation.

Your imagined audience for this memo is a co-worker who is collaborating on a project with you. You want to share the key information in the article with your co-worker. Make up a name for your co-worker to use in your memo.

First, begin your memo with the memo header information: TO (make up your co-worker’s name), FROM (your name), DATE, SUBJECT (make up a short, to-the-point descriptive subject).

Then, write two or three sentences summarizing the article that you read for today’s class. Among those sentences that you write in your own words, I would like you to include an important quote from the article in the following format:

According to Author’s-Last-Name, “quote” (Author’s-Last-Name, Year, p. Page-Number).

For example: According to Vader, “The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force” (Vader, 1977, p. 23).

Or, The author stated, “Students often had difficulty using APA style” (Jones, 1998, p. 199).

Then, conclude your memo with an APA-formatted bibliographic entry.

For example:

Author, A. A., Author, B. B., & Author, C. C. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages.


Henry, W. A., III. (1990, April). Making the grade in today’s schools. Time, 135, 28-31.

Your memo should look something like this:

TO: Kylo Ren
FROM: Jason Ellis
DATE: 9/10/2019
SUBJECT: Magazine Article About Lightsabers

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Phasellus id urna non magna bibendum placerat. Donec rhoncus maximus nulla id placerat. Nulla dictum ut orci ac dignissim. According to Clarke, “Proin a eros sodales, venenatis felis quis, imperdiet felis” (Clarke, 2012, p. 16). Quisque nec lorem velit. Cras porta sit amet nisi sed feugiat.

Clarke, C. (2012, August). New lightsaber designs are more efficient. Jedi News, 145, 16-20.

NB: I used this Lorem Ipsum generator to create the filler text above.

Project: 500-Word Summary Phase 2

Continuing from the assignment last week, we will begin narrowing down your list of potential scientific or technical journal articles for the 500-word summary project. In that assignment, I asked you to find 5 potential articles and write APA-formatted bibliographic citations for those. We’re going to use those with this assignment.

Of the 5 articles that you found, choose the one with an appropriate length and one that has the most relevant content that you would like to write about.

With this selection made, create a new Word or Google doc. Format it as a memo addressed to Professor Ellis. Write an introductory paragraph stating that this memo includes your selected article, a reverse outline of it, and a list of the four articles that you decided against choosing for this project.


Daily Writing: Magazine Article Summary Memo

For this first magazine-focused daily writing assignment, you will write a short summary of the article that you read and brought to class in the form of a memo.

A memo or memorandum serves many purposes, but fundamentally, a memo serves as a reminder or a memory of something within the workplace.

The format of a memo typically looks like this:





[Write the memo’s body here.]

When you create a communication or document, there should be an audience in mind. With the memo, it is generally who you are writing the memo to. However, you should keep in mind that others who are the unintended audience might read and react to what you have written.

For today’s assignment, write the memo to an imagined manager who you want to share the content of the article that you read for today’s class. You should communicate this intent in your memo’s introduction.

TO: Your Imagined Manager

FROM: Your Name

DATE: 9/3/2019

SUBJECT: Recommended Magazine Article on THIS TOPIC

First paragraph: The intent of your memo and the main topic that the article is about.

Second paragraph: Write at least 100 words summarizing the article. First sentence, what is the article’s main point? Second-and-following sentences, what are some details in the article that support the main point?

APA Bibliographic Citation. Go here for details. Example below.

Author, A. A. (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages.

Ellis, J. W. (2011). SFRA 2011. Locus, 67(3), 11.

Doctorow, C. (2001). Why should anyone care? Locus, 67(3), 31.

Type up your summary memo in Microsoft Word or Google Docs or another word processor. Save your work. Then, copy-and-paste it into a comment made to this blog post.

Opportunity: Professional Memberships

Most folks in our class probably already know about IEEE, or the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. If you aren’t already a member, you should consider joining, because it shows that you are a part of a professional community, it provides you with networking connections, and it can be added to your resume. Student memberships are only $32/year and include these benefits:

Membership includes subscription to IEEE Spectrum magazine which includes The Institute, electronic access to IEEE Potentials, IEEE Collabratec, inclusion in the IEEE Member Directory, members-only programming, an exclusive email account, discounts on products and services, continuing education, philanthropic opportunities, and more. Plus, you are automatically a part of your local IEEE Section and will receive communications about local networking opportunities, meetings, and special events.

Other professional organizations that might fit your interests better include:

Membership in professional organizations increases your network of professional contacts, access to trade magazines and publications, opportunities for awards and scholarships, opportunities for on-going education, invitations to networking events, and more.

Depending on your interests, you may join more than one professional society so that you represent the work that you do across disciplines and keep informed with the goings-on through their different publications, which might only be available to members.

The memberships that you have should be included on your resume and profile (which you should create if you don’t already have one).

Opportunity: CUNY Ethics and Morality Writing Contest, Deadline Oct. 21

Throughout the semester, I will share opportunities with you. Some of these might be writing contests like this one, while others might be events around the city that I think would be beneficial for you to attend. Some might include an extra credit assignment.

2019 Dr. K. York & M. Noelle Chynn CUNY Ethics and Morality Essay Contest

Funded by the Chynn Family Foundation

Submission Deadline
Monday, October 21, 2019

The CUNY Ethics and Morality Essay Contest is funded by an endowment gift of $100,000 to the City University of New York by Dr. K. York Chynn and his wife Noelle Chynn. This annual award is intended to promote and stimulate thinking by college students at CUNY about the topic of ethics, morality, and virtuous behavior in their lives. More than ever, these issues arise not only in the personal relationships of individuals and family and friends, but also in the context of corporate, government, and social responsibility, whether it is about treating others fairly and honestly, or food safety.

The Asian American / Asian Research Institute will award the top three essays, selected by the Selection Committee, the following prizes at its 18th Annual Gala on November 14, 2019:

  • Best Essay ($1,000)
  • First Runner-up ($300)
  • Second Runner-up ($200)

Submission Guidelines
Click here for Submission Form

Fall 2019 Essay Topic: Virtue

Regardless of where one lives, virtues form the moral foundation of one’s life. Throughout history, moral philosophers in all cultures have striven to answer the question of “What characteristics or virtues distinguish the moral man from the immoral one?” In ancient Greek times, the Four Cardinal Virtues were:

  • Prudence/Wisdom
  • Justice
  • Fortitude/Courage
  • Temperance/Self-control

There were additionally Three Theological Virtues:

  • Faith
  • Hope
  • Charity
  • Together, these comprised the Seven Virtues.

At about the same time in ancient China, Confucius formulated what he called the Five Constant Virtues:

  • Ren (Benevolence, Love)
  • Yi (Righteousness)
  • Li (Propriety, Loyalty, Filial Piety, Chastity, Respect)
  • Zhi (Wisdom)
  • Xin (Integrity, Honesty, Fidelity)

In today’s modern society however, virtues have slowly begun to lose their importance, or are often forgotten in the daily hustle of people’s daily lives. For example in China, officials recently enacted a new law to foster filial piety among its citizens by compelling adult children to visit their aging parents. Recognizing the importance of virtues in our lives, will lead to better communication, understanding, and acceptance between us and our fellow man.

For your essay, please select one Virtue from the list above to discuss in detail. In discussing the Virtue you have selected, please incorporate all of the following points in your essay:

  • Tell us about your own experience in practicing the Virtue you have chosen to write about and what personal reward or satisfaction have you gained from it.
  • Why did you think the Virtue that you chose was an important one to practice in your life?
  • What obstacles did you encounter in practicing this particular Virtue and how did you, or do you, still strive to overcome the difficulties?

Note: All winning (3) and honorable mention will be posted online for the public to read. If your essay is selected to win a cash prize, it must be posted online or you will forfeit your prize award.

Submission must meet the following requirements:

  • Applicant must be a currently enrolled CUNY undergraduate or graduate student. Please submit copy of your college ID and current semester program. (No recommendations letters or transcripts are required.)

  • Cover page containing topic of the essay, name of the student, name of the CUNY college, and date.

  • Length: 1,000 to 1,500 words

  • Typed, 12-size Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins, and double-spaced.

  • Work-cited: Reference all materials that is not your own. Include at least five sources.

  • All work must be original material. Attribution and references to quoted materials must be included.

  • No online submissions. Hard copy of essay can be submitted by postal mail (postmarked by Monday, November 5, 2018, or hand-delivered to AAARI office on Monday, November 5, 2018, by 5PM) see deadline above

Daily Writing Assignment: Beginning Next Week, Bring a Magazine Article

After the first daily writing assignment, in which you write a professional email of introduction to me, we will use the first part of each subsequent class to write about a magazine article that you read and bring to class. Here are the details about what you should come to class prepared with:

  • Purchase or photocopy articles from print magazines that are relevant to your field of study or career.
  • The articles should be at least a full page or longer. Of course, longer articles are better in terms of you learning more and having more material to work with on these assignments.
  • After reading the article and making a note of its publication information (date, volume, number, title of publication), bring it to class for a short writing assignment at the beginning of class.
  • You will need a new article for each of our subsequent classes. These can come from the same or different magazine issues.

Barnes and Noble on Court Street (pictured above) has a huge selection of magazines for purchase. The City Tech Library has some magazines as do all of the NYPL and Brooklyn Public Library branches, which you can read and copy (with your phone or another device) for free or photocopy for a small fee.

Daily Writing Assignment: Introductory Email

For your first daily writing assignment, please send an email of introduction to me (Professor Ellis) before we meet next week.

  • Write an email from your City Tech email address to Prof. Ellis (jellis at
  • Subject: Greetings from Your First and Last Name in ENG2575
  • Body:
    • Salutation: Dear Professor Ellis, or Hello Professor Ellis, or Hi Professor Ellis,
    • Pleasantry sentence.
    • Content paragraph:
      • Topic Sentence (Why are you writing? What is the purpose of the email? You don’t want to write: You told me to write you this stupid email. Instead: I wanted to introduce myself to you and let you know a little bit more about my interests and goals.
      • Several Supporting Sentences (Tell me about yourself)
        • What is your major?
        • What kind of job do you want to get? Not just “electrical engineer,” for example, but where do you want to work, what kind of firm, do you want to use this job to lead to something else in the long term?
        • What are your hobbies and interests?
        • What would you like to gain from our Technical Writing class? Is there a particular skill or ability that you want to focus your efforts on in our class?
    • Closing: Best wishes, Best, Sincerely, Cheers,
    • Your Name

Project: 500-Word Summary Phase 1

According to the syllabus, the first major project in Technical Writing is the “500-Word Summary.” The parameters for this deliverable (the document or artifact that you are making to specification) are:

Individual: 500-Word Summary, 10%
Individually, you will write a 500-word summary of a technical or scientific article that demonstrates: 1. ability to identify key processes and concepts in a professional science or technology article. 2. ability to describe complex processes and concepts clearly and concisely. an awareness of audience. The summary should cite the article and any quotes following APA format.

To accomplish this project, we will break it into several phases.

For the first phase, you will want to find five articles. Avoid book reviews and correspondence. We will work with these five articles to narrow down the one that you will summarize for this project in our next class.

Before we meet next week, your task is to find and print and/or download five articles relevant to your major or career from the library’s database holdings. You may not use articles found through a basic Google search or on random websites. The articles must come from vetted journals provided through City Tech’s library.

These links will help you begin searching for articles:

Keep track of possibly useful articles and journals in your notes. Also, download and save PDFs of all the articles that you find to look back at. Information to note: authors, title of article, title of journal, volume and number of journal issue, year of publication, and page numbers of the article.

So, for our next class:

  1. Find five possible articles.
  2. Print or download them to a flash drive or cloud storage so that you can easily view them on a computer in the classroom.
  3. Read each article’s abstract (if there is one) or skim the article to learn its gist or main idea.
  4. We’ll use these articles in our next class for discussion and the next phase of this project.

Welcome to Technical Writing!

Astounding May 1951 cover
Cover artwork by Rogers, Astounding Science Fiction, May 1951. Note the sliderule bisecting the cutaway of the human head in the image, which evokes technology as a mind amplifier, or the cyborg-like fusion of human and computing-augmentation artifact.

I would like to welcome you all to our Fall 2019 Technical Writing class!

We’re going to work together to learn what technical writing and technical communication is, and how you can leverage technical writing in your other studies and future career.

We’ll use this OpenLab site to coordinate what we’re doing each class, post assignments, share opportunities and resources, and collect some of your work.

Use the menu on the left to find important information about the class in the Syllabus, explore Examples of Technical Communication, read urgent Announcements about the class, find Daily Writing assignments for the beginning of class, follow the workflow of the major Projects in the class, and finally, discover invaluable Opportunities for your success.


And, you can email me at jellis at or visit my office in Namm 520 (at the end of the hallway). My office hours at between 4:00PM-5:00PM on Tuesdays, but I’m happy to arrange other times to meet if you let me know what your availability is over several days.