Columns January/February 2024


By Deanne Levander | Fellow

TCBOK Time, a new featured column, will explore different features and topics from STC’s Technical Communication Body of Knowledge (TCBOK) project, giving you a glimpse of the wealth of content resources available to you for free in the TCBOK, found online at or selecting Body of Knowledge from the Publications menu on the STC home page. This first column’s focus is how to find specific content in the TCBOK, using its basic keyword search feature.

Where can you find ….

We’re all accustomed to finding the resources we need to get things done, but are you even aware of the Technical Communication Body of Knowledge (TCBOK) as a bonafide resource? This column features some tips for using the TCBOK to find content about anything, including training and development. It also explores behind the scenes, to help you get the most out of the TCBOK.

Open a TCBOK session

Anyone can open a TCBOK session: just go to You can also click a link on the STC website.

After you get to the TCBOK home page, search for a term or phrase to bring up relevant content. A Google®-powered search box is on each TCBOK page.

Find the content you need

Scroll through the search results to find content that resonates with your needs. The second line of each search result contains the navigation breadcrumb for that search result. The content search for T&D results in the following list:

Perhaps you were hoping to find a list of resources for a research paper, or maybe to support an article you are writing. The TCBOK contains many resources from which to choose, already curated for you. The benefits of using the TCBOK include specific information from STC publications such as Intercom and the Technical Communication Journal*. Look at Tools > Resources. You’ll find many different resources, all available through your fingertips.

Increase your efficiency

The TCBOK is also a fast way to get a list of useful results. Review search results and grab a topic that sounds interesting or is on-point with what you need. For example, select the fifth item from the search results above (Instructional Design – Technical Communication Body of Knowledge). The following main topics are part of Tools > Resources > Resources by Category > Instructional Design:

  • Adult Learning
  • Classroom
  • Computer-Based
  • General
  • Intercultural
  • Learning Objects
  • Learning Organizations
  • Models
  • Needs/Task Analysis
  • Performance-Centered

The benefit of using a tool like the TCBOK is that you can scan through the search results quickly to see if there is anything useful in the list of results. The content of the Instructional Design page is a bibliography of written material relevant to the field of Instructional Design.

Knowledge management

Organizations accumulate and store member knowledge and expertise. For STC, the knowledge and expertise that makes for successful technical communication practices is of special importance and has found its way into the TCBOK.

As discussed above, a significant benefit of the TCBOK is the speed at which information can be found. If one is interested in certification, the TCBOK contains specific content about technical communicator core competencies. For students in a technical communication program, the TCBOK contains a wealth of resources for research purposes.

STC is a knowledge organization, so it is only fitting that it has a body of knowledge, which contains the accepted ontology – set of concepts and categories unique to a group – of the Society and its members. The TCBOK has evolved from content developed and contributed by students of Technical Communication to content that has been developed and published in Intercom and Technical Communication Journal.

Watch this space for more information about making your way through the TCBOK. As more content is added to the site, its value to the audience grows. Have confidence that the content you find in the TCBOK is useful and timely.

Deanne Levander is an STC Fellow whose STC history includes Society board member; TCBOK leader and volunteer; Online and Technical Publications award manager, judge, and trainer; chapter leader; student mentor; and SIG/COI leader. A tireless advocate for technical communication and technical communicators, she has been a technical writer in a broad range of industries including chemical manufacturing, food distribution, meteorology, agribusiness, life insurance, banking, and biomedical manufacturing. Deanne lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.