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Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's1 What are definitions, descriptions, and instructions? A.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's1 What are definitions, descriptions, and instructions? A."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's1 What are definitions, descriptions, and instructions? A definition is typically a brief explanation of an item or concept using words and (sometimes) graphics. A description is typically a longer explanation, usually accompanied by graphics, of an object, mechanism, or process. A set of instructions is a kind of process description intended to enable a person to carry out a task.

2 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's2 There are three types of definitions: parenthetical sentence extended

3 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's3 Sentence definitions follow a typical pattern: Item = category + distinguishing characteristics

4 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's4 Follow these four guidelines to write effective sentence definitions: Be specific in stating the category and the distinguishing characteristics. Don’t describe a specific item if you are defining a general class of items. Avoid writing circular definitions. Be sure the category contains a noun or a noun phrase rather than a phrase beginning with when, what, or where.

5 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's5 Eight techniques are used in extended definitions: graphics examples partition principle of operation comparison and contrast analogy negation etymology

6 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's6 Decide where to place the definition: in the text in a marginal gloss in a hyperlink in a footnote in a glossary in an appendix

7 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's7 Follow these four principles when writing descriptions: Clearly indicate the nature and scope of the description. Introduce the description clearly. Provide appropriate detail. Conclude the description.

8 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's8 Provide appropriate detail in process descriptions: Structure the step-by-step description chronologically. Explain causal relationships among steps. Use the present tense. Use graphics.

9 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's9 An example of a process description based on a graphic

10 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's10 Follow these two guidelines to design clear, attractive pages: Create an open, airy design. Clearly relate the graphics to the text.

11 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's11 Examples of cluttered and attractive page designs Source: Anthro, 2005 . Source: Slide- Lok, 2005 .

12 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's12 Danger indicates an immediate and serious hazard that will likely be fatal. Warning indicates the potential for serious injury or death or serious damage to equipment. Caution indicates the potential for anything from moderate injury to serious equipment damage or destruction. Note indicates a tip or suggestion to help readers carry out the procedure successfully Understand the four signal words used in manuals and instructions:

13 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's13 An example of a safety label

14 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's14 title general introduction step-by-step instructions conclusion A typical set of instructions includes these four elements:

15 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's15 Write effective titles for instructions: Effective titles: How-to. “How to Install the J112 Shock Absorber” Gerund. “Installing the J112 Shock Absorber” Ineffective titles: Noun strings. “J112 Shock Absorber Installation Instructions”

16 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's16 Who should carry out this task? Why should the reader carry out this task? When should the reader carry out this task? What safety measures or other concerns should the reader understand? What items will the reader need? How long will the task take? Consider answering these six questions when drafting introductions for instructions:

17 Chapter 20. Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and Instructions © 2012 by Bedford/St. Martin's17 Number the instructions. Present the right amount of information in each step. Use the imperative mood. Don’t confuse steps and feedback statements. Include graphics. Do not omit articles (a, an, the) to save space. Follow these six guidelines when drafting steps in instructions:


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