Hypertext theory: Theoretical foundations for technical communication in the 21st century

Craig Baehr, Susan Lang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: As the field of Technical Communication adapts to changing conditions, new ways of describing the field are vital. This article discusses important characteristics of hypertext theory, developed over the last 70+ years, as a theoretical foundation that informs and defines the core competencies and practices of the field of technical communication. Method: This article initially reviews the significant literature on hypertext theory as well as recent selections, which help situate or define technical communication in the 21 st century. From this literature, we developed a framework to examine correlations between characteristics of hypertext theory and compared those to skills, processes, and products in technical communication. Results: Hypertext is a foundational theory which informs the processes and practices of contemporary technical communication, and in particular, core competencies in developing content, design, structure, and in the processes of information development and user experience design. Given technological evolutions, technical communicators continue to work with content informed by hypertextual theories and practices, to create multi-pathed, user-driven, dynamic experiences. Conclusions: Characteristics of hypertext theory have become essential parts of the core competencies required in the daily work of technical communicators. Furthermore, they can be used to describe our daily work as well as to help us frame professional development, certification programs, and identify as a field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-104
Number of pages12
JournalTechnical Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2019


  • Core competencies
  • Hypertext theory
  • Technical communication


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