Books & Resources

Reference book iconGeneral

Handbook of Technical Writing

By: Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, Walter E. Oliu
Publisher: Bedford/St Martin’s

If you only get one book, this is the Swiss army knife of writing resources. It covers everything except visual presentation guidelines for online and data. It is useful not only for checking word usage and grammar only the fly, but for structural and outline composition advice. I had to get a new one because I loaned it out so often and forgot who I lent it to. I upgraded from the 8th edition to the current 10th edition (2012), and paid extra for the spiral binding (easier usage). You can save some money by buying an older used copy, but the new edition has been updated with important information on new technologies.

Book IconStyle Guides

Read Me First! A Style Guide for the Computer Industry

Publisher: Sun Technical Publications

This introduced to me to the concept of a Style Guide for technical publications. A recommendation from the UC Berkeley Extension’s sequence in Technical Communications professors.

Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications

Publisher: Microsoft

There is not as much overlap between these two as you might think. This book must not be ignored, readers will be conditioned to the style from help documents, manuals, and even user interface copy.

Presentation IconVisual Presentation

Don’t Make Me Think: 

A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

By: Steve Krug
Publisher: New Riders Publishing

Goes straight to the point about the user experience. Very visually appealing layout and lessons that practices what it preaches.

GUI Bloopers 2.0

Common User Interface Design Don’ts and Dos

By: Jeff Johnson Worth buying for the jokes alone. I’m sure there is a new version which I should be coveting, but this is a priceless treasure of web nostalgia. Insightful and instructive, the tone is admirably less mocking than this review.

Data IconData Visualization


Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Envisioning Information

Visual Explanations

Beautiful Evidence


~Everything Else~


By: Edward Tufte
Publisher: Graphics Press

The grandfather of Data Visualization. I got his four basic books as part of the tuition for a seminar of his on data presentation. One of the best deals of my life. His presentation was the standard by which all will forever be judged by. He showed us a priceless copy of Euclid’s Geometry actually owned and signed by the second greatest playwright in the English language, Ben Jonson.  Jonson and Shakespeare (the first) were drinking buddies, and I love them both. I was star-struck by the man and his book. This was on top of seeing how Euclid had created a pyramid within in the text which is cut to pop-up out of the book. My mind was expanded and illuminated. These books don’t have that, but they have far more practical enlightenment.

Trees, maps, and theorems

By: Jean Luc Doumont
Publlisher: Principiae

Written by a man who is just as good a speaker, in a more minimalist style. Concrete advice you can really apply.

Software iconSoftware and Hardware

Enhanced A+ Guide to Managing and Maintaining Your PC

By: Jean Andrews
Publisher: Thomson Learning

How to know what’s going on “under the hood”. It was my trusty companion when taking Computer Hardware in the Peralta college system. Education in California has an embarrassment of riches in the tech field. Where else can you find a community college instructor like Jose Louis Flores? He got turned on to computers when you could not buy a monitor for your computer, you had to hack a TV. He ran the LAN for the Social Security administration, the largest in the world. He can tell you stories about “back in the day” and explain the seven layer cake of networking in a way that makes it feel like candy for your mind. This book is the the most compressed form of a two semester course available and makes a nice doorstop.