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March 1999





Feature Articles

Gary Urban: Web page Development

Non-Biased Language: Name and Mascot Changes

Working Collaboratively


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Gary Urban: Web page Development

by Nicole Ripka

Gary Urban, an alumn of Minnesota State University, Mankato, works in the MSU Business Office. Urban graduated in 1992 with degrees in Accounting and Finance. Since then he has taught himself webpage design. During his presentation at the February 29, 2000, STC meeting held on the MSU campus, he discussed many aspects of webpage development.

Urban offered tips in designing a webpage. First, he suggested writing out the purpose of the page. This step will help determine the layout and content of the page. A good way to do this is by using storyboards. Second, to get ideas about how webpages are set up, he suggested looking at other websites that are similar to the page being designed.

In choosing a software program to implement the page, Urban suggested researching software packages that would work best with the specifications of the webpage. One of his software recommendations was Adobe Go Live. The software is very easy to learn and can perform many tasks.

To find more information about Adobe Go Live and other software, go to www.adobe.com.

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Non-biased Language: Name and Mascot Changes

by Krista Schmidt

Have you ever wondered why you have not heard school teams referred to as the Indians, Warriors, Braves, Chiefs, Mohawks, or Redmen lately? Many of these names were changed because they were viewed as racist and stereotypical. The changes were made using non-biased language. The name and mascot changes did not come easy, and many communities still have strong opinions against the changes.

Name and mascot changes began when the Concerned American Indian Parents Group brought their concerns to the Minnesota Civil Liberties Union (MCLU) and the State Board of Education. These three groups discovered many reasons to change school names and mascots that may be viewed as offensive, stereotypical, discriminatory, or prejudicial toward certain groups.

The Concerned American Indian Parents Group, MCLU, and State Board of Education thought that names such as the Indians created an intimidating or offensive environment. Mascots developed and perpetuated racist perceptions of Native Americans at athletic events through dress, war cries, and feathers. These organizations believed Indians were depicted as ferocious, bloodthirsty, viscous people, which was untrue. The MCLU discovered that the nicknames of Warriors and Braves violated state laws and the Constitution, stating that these names violated equal protection.

Some communities wanted to keep their names and mascots because they lived in an Indian schooling community. Therefore, they viewed the names and mascots as a sign of respect and tradition. Others knew that there would be no changes for professional teams such as the Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins, or Kansas City Chiefs, so why did the communities need to change? In an editorial, a writer joked about the issue by stating that, "the animal society should make a fuss about teams using Dolphins, Cardinals, Lions, Rams, or Bears as mascots; and the money from the Vikings should go to their Norwegian friends" (Lesley, p. 2). The writer's idea was that nicknames were used solely for identification purposes.

Those that agreed with the organizations like the MCLU believed that neither the Constitution nor society should permit a school to use Black, White, Jew, or other races as mascots (Schools told to drop). How would a community feel if their school was to be called the St. Paul Caucasians or the Minneapolis Hispanics? However, the name changes were expensive for many schools. Previously, the Indian name and mascot was the third most popular team name in Minnesota, with 22 schools using the logo (School told to drop).

Along with the name changes were mascot changes. Minnesota State University, Mankato has had many names and mascots. The University did not actually have a true mascot until the College Spirit newspaper called for a distinctive name in 1934, and a Bemidji homecoming float depicted Mankato as the dead, scalped Indians (Boehm). In October of 1971, the Mankato State College Native American Association thought the name should be changed, but nothing was done. In 1976, action was taken for a new mascot. The change came when the University president and other leaders were at a football game and saw the team mascot dressed in a headdress of colorful feathers, beaded shirt, animal-skin pants, moccasins, and carrying a tomahawk. This brought disgust and embarrassment to the University. The mascot was changed to the Mavericks on July 1, 1977 (Anderson, 1983).

As technical communicators, we must present ideas through non-biased language. People should be proud of their heritage, ethnic backgrounds, and gender, and not be subject to misunderstanding through unfair and inaccurate portrayals.


Anderson, D. 1983. Letter to columnist, 13 October.

Boehm, D. 1934. Sports forecast. College Spirit, 11 October, final edition.

Lesley, G. 1976. Editorial: Efforts absurd. Independent, 13 October, final edition.

Star Tribune. 1992. Wisconsin bias opinion may help other states banish Indian mascots, 19 October.


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Working Collaboratively

by Kimberley Kuhn

Group work may be a large component throughout one's academic and professional careers. The characteristics of each group vary depending on the group's purpose. The purpose of the project determines the individuals chosen for the group and the approach taken to accomplish the tasks necessary for the successful completion of the project.

Timelines, individual abilities, and knowledge levels play important roles in establishing the criteria for the project. When the timeline of the project is short, its members may be chosen quickly according to availability. On the contrary, if the time allotted for the development and completion of the project is large, the team members may be chosen for their individual abilities and knowledge levels.

Working as a group member has its advantages. Exercising brainstorming techniques with team members may lead to ideas that might have otherwise remained unexplored. By working with team members with different levels of knowledge and abilities, other members of the team may learn new skills or enhance old skills. Team members provide quick feedback of the project's development resulting in a better final product.

There are disadvantages to working in a group. Because different people have different ideas, there may not be a consensus on the purpose of the project or the methods to accomplish each task. What may be the most challenging disadvantage is personality conflicts. Working with an individual whose personality conflicts with one or more other individuals in the group may result in group conflict.

Group work is often associated with the academic and business worlds. Timelines, individual abilities, and knowledge levels are a few of the components used when determining the members of a team. Group work has its advantages and its disadvantages, but these are determined by the experience itself.

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by Mary Donnelly


The Techniques website has been redesigned and updated. The colors of the homepage and links are purple and gold, the colors of Minnesota State University, Mankato. A picture of the campus has also been added to the homepage. A banner has been added which carries over to each secondary link of the Techniques website. You can view the Techniques website at ww.krypton.mankato.msus.techniques/. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the online editor, Mary Donnelly.


Software Review: Adobe Acrobat Reader
by Mary Donnelly


Adobe Acrobat Reader is a free software program that lets the user view and print Portable Document Format (PDF) files and submit PDF forms online. PDF is a file format that lets the user view and print a file exactly as the author designed it, without needing the same software application. The same fonts and styles used by the author are not required to see a PDF file; therefore, all the formatting the author applied to the document will remain intact.

Acrobat Reader is available for many computer platforms including the following: Mac OS, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, and UNIX. In Windows and Mac OS, Acrobat Reader is available in the following languages: Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.

A free copy of Acrobat Reader may be downloaded from any of the following Internet locations:

Book Review: Technical Editing
by Krista Schmidt


Technical Editing by Carolyn Rude (1998) is designed not only for graduate and undergraduate students enrolled in technical communication courses, but also for professional technical communicators. Throughout this book, students can learn principles for information display and traditional editorial responsibilities, including grammar, punctuation, and style. Professionals can continue their education by updating or upgrading their editing and communication abilities.

According to Rude (1998), this second edition has "been updated to incorporate changes in technology and the global marketplace" (p. xxiii). New chapters include editing online documents, and emphasize legal and ethical issues.

The book is divided into four parts.

  • Part 1, Concepts and Methods, is introductory material.

  • Part 2, Basic Copyediting, explores editorial choices that conform a document to language standards.

  • Part 3, Comprehensive Editing, offers processes and principles for evaluating style, organization, and the visual appearance of both printed and online documents.

  • Part 4, Management and Production, covers workplace issues, such as methods of production and management, and legal and ethical issues of publication.

Both theory and practice move the reader along to assignments and activities following each chapter. These activities are suited for both the classroom and the self-guided professional.

Next time a question arises about the difference between copyediting marks and proofreading marks, check out what Rude says in the Second Edition of Technical Editing.




Rude, C. D. 1998. Technical Editing. 2nd ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


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Meet the Staff


Sarah Helming


Sarah Helming will be graduating with an MA in Technical Communication in May, 2000. In 1998, she received a BA in Rhetorical and Professional Communication from Iowa State University.


Helming is currently the Program Coordinator of the Blue Earth Area Mentors (BEAM), a mentor program for youth and adults. After graduation, she plans to pursue a career in technical writing, marketing, or publications in South-Central Minnesota.


Along with being a member of STC and a former English department teaching assistant, Helming shows expertise in grant writing, information organization, and managing large and small projects. Outside of her work and studies, Helming enjoys gardening, landscaping, flower arranging, and horseback riding.


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Last Updated: 10/20/2005