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1 Technical Writing: Process and Product 5 th Edition Steven M. Gerson Sharon J. Gerson Pearson Education/Prentice Hall.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Technical Writing: Process and Product 5 th Edition Steven M. Gerson Sharon J. Gerson Pearson Education/Prentice Hall."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Technical Writing: Process and Product 5 th Edition Steven M. Gerson Sharon J. Gerson Pearson Education/Prentice Hall

2 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 2 Chapter 12: Instructions and User’s Manuals This chapter discusses the following: Objectives Criteria for Writing Short Instructions Criteria for Writing a User’s Manual Process

3 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 3 Objective People use equipment or make products that require instructions—every day. Examples: operating machinery installing equipment maintaining equipment testing components cleaning a product monitoring a system repairing equipment troubleshooting a mechanism caring for livestock caring for plants setting up a system assembling a product building a deck making a cake NOTE: A primary job of technical writers is to write instructions. NOTE: A primary job of technical writers is to write instructions.

4 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 4 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (1-3 pages) Title Topic Function (purpose of the instruction) X320Z Radon Extractor Installation Procedures Topic Function

5 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 5 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (cont.) Organization Introduction Name the product State the purpose of the instruction List the number of steps The X320Z Radon Extractor removes hazardous gases from your house. Installing this mechanism requires only 10 simple steps. Product namePurpose # of steps

6 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 6 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (cont.) Organization (cont.) Optional components Required tools Include graphics to help lay readers

7 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 7 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (cont.) Organization (cont.) Optional components Hazards notations Danger—the potential for death Warning—the potential for injury Caution—the potential for damage to equipment Include icons for visual impact

8 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 8 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (cont.) Sample hazard alert

9 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 9 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (cont.) Organization (cont.) Body Organize steps chronologically Develop points thoroughly Conclusion State warranties Sell the product Repeat the products uses Provide corporate credentials or contact information Provide a troubleshooting guide Answer FAQs (frequently asked questions)

10 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 10 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (cont.) Audience Recognition Is your audience High-tech, Low-tech, Lay, or combinations of all (Multiple)? Write to your audience’s level of understanding.

11 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 11 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (cont.) Graphics People read instructions when they are unfamiliar with a product. Graphics help them visualize the steps.

12 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 12 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (cont.) Style 1. Number the steps (for future reference) 2. Use highlighting techniques (color for hazards; graphics for visualization, for example) 3. Don’t overload steps—one action per step is enough.

13 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 13 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (cont.) 4. Develop points thoroughly. Define terms Provide detailed steps BAD—too vague Add enough air to inflate the tire. Good Detail Add air up to 32 psi (pounds per square inch) to inflate the tire. How much is “enough”? “Enough” is 32 psi (defined parenthetically)

14 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 14 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (cont.) 5. Write concisely (short words, phrases, and sentences). 6. Begin steps with verbs. BAD 1. You might want to consider tightening the clamp. Without a verb, this is not a required action. GOOD 1. Tighten the clamp. The verb “Tighten” makes the step a required action.

15 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 15 Criteria for Writing Short Instructions (cont.) 7. Personalize text with pronouns. 8. Do not omit articles (“a,” “an,” “the”). 1. Use the 2” angle-edge brush to paint your window ledges. Article Personalized pronoun

16 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 16 Criteria for Writing a User’s Manual (longer instructions) Long User’s Manuals include all of the topics already discussed: Graphics Hazards Required tools Detailed information geared toward the audience An appropriate style (numbered steps, articles, verbs, personalization, etc.)

17 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 17 Criteria for Writing a User’s Manual (longer instructions) Long User’s Manuals include the following additional information: Cover page Topic Function (purpose) Graphic Table of contents

18 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 18 Criteria for Writing a User’s Manual (longer instructions) Introduction Personalized, positive tone Emphasizing the value and importance of the instruction Glossary—defining acronyms, abbreviations, and high-tech terms Technical descriptions (optional)

19 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 19 Criteria for Writing a User’s Manual (longer instructions) Warranties/guarantees (optional) Parts lists/accessories (optional) FAQs (optional) Corporate Contact information

20 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 20 Process To ensure the success of your instruction, Prewrite Write Rewrite

21 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 21 Process (cont.) Prewriting techniques Gather data, determine your audience, decide on goals, and envision layout as follows: Brainstorm/list the components of your topic Create a flowchart itemizing the steps in chronological order Use storyboarding to determine layout

22 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 22 Process (cont.) Writing Review the criteria for successful instruction. Review your prewriting. Draft your text.

23 Gerson & Gerson: Technical Writing, 5th Edition© 2006 Pearson Education, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458. All Rights Reserved. 23 Process (cont.) Rewriting Revise the rough draft by Adding detail for clarity Deleting dead words and phrases for conciseness Simplifying terms for easy understanding Moving text for emphasis Reformatting for easy access Enhancing the tone Correcting errors for professionalism


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