Technical Hypertext Accessibility:
Information Structures and Rhetorical Framing
Kochi University of Technology
Miyanokuchi 185, Tosa Yamada, Kochi, Japan 782-8502
ABSTRACT development of model text, hypertext is a useful mode of
presentation, given its flexibility of manipulation of (multiple)
This paper outlines work in progress towards using information views. However, informal surveys suggest that successful use of
structure maps as a graphical means of informing the reader of hypertext for considerate technical text calls for some degree of
his/her position in a hypertext array, and of the rhetorical intent explicit signalling not only of content structure but also of both
of any given utterance. The graphical navigation aids described utterance intent (rhetorical move) and lexia position within the
here support the non-native writer’s (NNW) use of model greater document.
technical text, and provide an inroad for developing NNW
awareness of the distinction between information elements and 2. INFORMATION STRUCTURES
rhetorical devices. Mohan  proposed six "knowledge structures" or patterns of
meaning and language that appear in discourse: description,
Categories and Subject Descriptors classification, sequence, principle, choice and evaluation. The
H.5.4 [Information interfaces and presentation]: Hypertext/ author has modified Mohan's knowledge structures so as to
Hypermedia - navigation. creating a mapping of the irreducible information structures
which are signalled explicitly in technical writing. These
General Terms information structures (description, classification, comparison,
Design, Experimentation, Human Factors. sequence and cause-effect) can be represented  by iconic
node-link-node graphics, such as those shown in Figure 1.
design, human factors, representations, information structures,
rhetorical frames, information mapping, navigation support,
The non-native writer (NNW) of technical English, for example
the Japanese engineering student, is attempting a multi-level
orchestration of rhetorical moves and information elements,
where information is framed by such moves as citation,
observation, and analysis, which are in turn framed by
overarching moves such as accepting, rejecting, questioning and
proposing. Often the NNW may not have full control of the
mechanics of even the information elements – and even in good
model texts the layers of this discourse are tangled in linear text
whose section-by-section structuring reveals only part of the
Figure 1. Iconic information structure graphics
rhetorical manoeuvring taking place. The NNW typically
acquires English technical writing knowledge through the (Hunter, 2002)
observation, analysis and mimicry of model texts, and skill
through the monitored application of that knowledge.
2.1 Information Structures, Graphically
Within a technical document, information elements are grouped
This points to a need for 'considerate' model texts which around themes or topics. For example, Figure 2 shows the
distinguish between information elements and rhetorical moves. information elements chosen by a journalist to introduce ocean
The difficulty of decoding these models can be further eased by thermal energy conversion (OTEC) in a science magazine. Here
presenting the information elements as low-text information the information structure types are sequence and attribute
maps such as those developed by Hunter . At this point in the comparison.
Copyright is held by the author/owner(s). 2.2 Adding Rhetorical Framings
HT’05, September 6-9, 2005, Salzburg, Austria.
Common web design practice uses the sidebar menu or the text
line menu to signal the structure of an overall document and (at
times) the position of the viewed page (the 'lexia') within that the highlighting of related map sections, and of structure and
document. The place of the information contained in a given move tags. This approach also has applicability to writing genres
lexia within the information array of a whole document is less other than technical-academic, given the system's capacity to
certainly signalled in such devices; table-of-contents type menus vary the presentation of text structures, information structures
actually represent text structure (and the formal component of and rhetorical move elements.
rhetorical structure) rather than information structure.
Figure 2. An information structure map. Figure 3. Hypertext revealing text position, rhetorical intent
and information structure of lexia elements.
In technical writing, information elements are framed by such
rhetorical devices as citations, claim qualifiers and data
commentaries. It is essential that the reader of technical text be 4. REFERENCES
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In a complementary version, model research papers are broken
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