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Unformatted text preview: 550 A “h in "this flock For more about titles and head— ings, see Ch. 9, pp. 200 and 201. - Wmfimmmmfimmwwmmmmmuwxmzw - W Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and instructions . «<uumm«uwxwuwwwmmvxmmflwm Runwmwmmmmwsmmww A» . be. Another audience-related factor is your use of graphics. Less—knowledge- able readers need simple graphics; they might have trouble understanding sophisticated schematics or decision charts. As you cons1der your audience, think about whether any of your readers are from other cultures and might . therefore expect different topics, organization, or writing style in the description. Consider, too, your purpose. What are you trying to accomplish With this description? If you want your readers to understand how a personal com- puter works, write a general description that applies to several varieties of computers. If you want your readers to understand how a spec1fic computer works, write a particular description. A general description of personal comput— ers might classify them by size, then go on to describe palmtops, laptops, and desktops in general terms. A particular description, however, Will describe only one model of personal computer, such as a Millennia 2500. Your purpose will determine every aspect of the description, including its length, the amount of detail, and the number and type of graphics. ' I There is no single structure or format used for descriptions. Because descriptions are written for different audiences and different purposes, they can take many shapes and forms. However, the followmg four suggestions will guide you in most situations: ° Indicate the nature and scope of the description. 0 Introduce the description clearly. 0 Provide appropriate detail. 0 Conclude the description. indicating the Natnre and Scope cf the Description If the description is to be a separate document, give it a title. ‘If the descrip— tion is to be part of a longer document, give it a section heading: In either case, clearly state the subject and indicate whether the description is general or particular. For instance, a general description of an object might be titled “Description of a Minivan,” and a particular description might be called “Description of the 2009 Honda Odyssey.” A general description of a process might be titled “Description of the Process of DeSigning a NeW Production Car,” and a particular description might be called “Description of the Process of Designing the Chevrolet Malibu.” ntroducing the Description Steady Provide information that readers need in order to understand the detailed I information that follows. Most introductions to descriptions are general: you: want to give readers a broad understanding of the object, mechanism, or process. You might also provide a graphic that introduces readers to the eve all concept. For example, in describing a process, you‘might include a flow- chart summarizing the steps in the body of the description; in describing a mmwmmmmmmummmmmwmam object, such as a bicycle, you might include ing the major components you will Table 20.1 shows some of the b Writing Descriptions WMWWWW‘KW a photograph or a drawing show- describe in detail in the body. asic kinds of questions you might want to answer in introducing object, mechanism, and process descriptions. If the answer is obvious, simply move on to the next question. ‘ Figure 20.2 on page 552 shows the introductory graphic accompanying a description of a headlamp. For object and mechanism descriptions Table 20.1 Questions to Answer in introducing a Description For process descriptions o What is the item? You might start with a sentence definition. a What is the function of the item? If the function is not implicit in the sentence definition, state it: “Electron microscopes magnify objects that are smaller than the wavelengths of visible light.” a What does the item look like? Include a photograph or drawing if possible. (See Chapter 12 for more about incorporating graphics with text.) If not, use an analogy or comparison: “The USB drive is a plastic- or metal—covered device, about the size of a pack of gum, with a removable cap that covers the type—A USB connection.” Mention the material, texture, color, and the like, if relevant. Sometimes, an object is best described with both graphics and words. How does the item work? in a few sentences, define the operating principle. Sometimes, objects do not “work”; they merely exist. For instance, a ship model has no operating principle. What are the principal parts of the item? Limit your description to the principal ‘ parts. A description of a bicycle, for instance, would not mention the dozens of nuts and bolts that hold the mechanism _ together; it would focus on the chain, gears, pedals, wheels, and frame. 0 What is the process? You might start with a sentence definition. 0 What is the function of the process? Unless the function is obvious, state it: “The central purpose of performing a census is to obtain current population figures, which government agencies use to revise legislative districts and determine revenue sharing.” 0 Where and when does the process take place? “Each year the stream is stocked with hatchery fish in the first week of March.” Omit these facts only if your readers already know them. 0 Who or what performs the process? if there is any doubt about who or what performs the process, state it. 0 How does the process work? “The four— treatment lawn-spray plan is based on the theory that the most effective way to promote a healthy lawn is to apply different treatments at crucial times during the growing season. The first two treatments— in spring and early summer—consist of. . . What are the principal steps of the process? Name the steps in the order in which you will describe them. The principal steps in changing an automobile tire, for instance, include jacking up the car, replacing the old tire with the new one, and lowering the car back to the ground. Changing a tire also includes secondary steps, such as placing ChOCkS against the tires to prevent the car from moving once it is jacked up. Explain or refer to these secondary steps at the appropriate points in the description. Wm“ - Writing Definitions, Descriptions, ahd Instructions Presiding Apprepriate Detai In the body of a description—the part-by—part or step-by-step section—treat each major part or step as a separate item. In describing an object or a mechanism, define each part and then, if applicable, describe its function, oper- ating principle, and appearance. In discussing the appearance, include shape, dimensions, material, and physical details such as texture and color (if essential). Some descriptions might call for other qualities, such as weight or hardness. If a part has important subparts, describe them in the same way. Wiggle figfifimfi In describing a process, treat each major i ’ step as 1f1t were a separate proceSS. Do not 5,, , , A , repeat your answer to the question about who or what performs the action unless a new agent performs it, but do answer the other important questions: what the step is; what its function g Wigwam l asmwém is; and when, where, and how it occurs. If the : it’mm . . ’ step has important substeps,expla1n them, too. A description resembles a map with a series of detailed insets. A description of a Figure 20.2 Graphic with Enlarged Detailfid computer system includes a keyboard as one of its parts, and the description amphle of the keyboard includes the numeric keypad as one of its parts. And the I" This descripti?" Ofa description of the numeric keypad includes the arrow keys as one of its parts. headlamp’ the '"trOdUCto’y The level of detail depends on the complexity of the item and the readers’ ra hic includes five . . . . . . . graghics showing different needs.The same princ1ple applies in describing processes: a step m1ght have pom-ans or views off/19 substeps. For each substep, you need to describe who or what performs it (if it headlamp or additional is not obvious), and you need to describe what the substep is, what its function 5 Components Notice the use is, and when, where, and how it occurs. of the numbered boxes to help readers link the individual boxes to the main photograph of the headlamp. Source: Petzl, 2005. Providing Appropriate Detal in Descriptions Use the following techniques to flesh out your descriptions. For mechanism and object descriptions For process descriptions 0 Choose an appropriate organizing - Structure the step-by-step descrip- principle. Two organizational principles tion chronologically. If the process is are common: ‘ a closed system—such as the cycle of i —— Functional: how the item works or is evaporation and condensation—and ‘ used. In a radio, the soUnd begins thus has no firSt Step, begin With any at the receiver, traVels into the prlndpa' Slep- Writing Descriptions WWWM WWWWWWMWMWWMWWWW , For mechanism and object descn'ptions For process descriptions _ - r . . It F’y pa tt amplifier, and then flows out through 0 Explain causal relationships among {Pa} or par the speakers. steps. Don’t present the steps as if they 3mg an _ spatial; based on the physical have nothing to do with one another. in part and structure of the item: from top to many cases, one step causes another. tion, oper- bottom, east to west, outside to 'n the Operation Ofa f°”"3t’°ketgas°” . - . . line engine for instance, each 8 ep cre- ln isd,nds fort. , ’__ 1139115: g n I e a O h ates the conditions for the next step. 51011 i ' ' ' ' . en t re Deécnptlons can b_e orgamzed m 0 Use the present tense. Discuss steps aSFGX u Var'ouls Ways' For 'nStance’ the in the present tense unless you are writ- pthnS descr'pt'on Of a house 00”” be ing about a process that occurred in the as weight organized TUUCtI'OHaHY (the different historical past. For example, use the . subparts, electrical and mechanical systems) or past tense in describing how the Snake spatially (top to bottom, inside to out— River aquifer was formed: “The molten ‘h maj or side, east to west, and so on). A com- material condensed. . . l-lowever, use 'D not plex description can use a combination the present tellse '" £1930"me WW. 0 of patterns at different levels in the Stee' '3 made; The "30'th matenal '8 about who descn. fion then poured into. . . .’The present a new agent p _' _ tense helps readers understand that, in r _ ortant 0 Use graphics. Present a graphic for general, steel is made this way. Imp each major part. Use photographs . . function to show external surfaces, drawings to . use firafih'c's' when?” Potsséble’ .286 HS. If the emphasize particular items on the sur- gm? . [CS 0 6 amy eac pom ' .ons' er . additional tiowoharts or other kinds of n them, too face, and cutaways and exploded dia- fa hics such as how ra hs drawfl with 8 grams to show details beneath the sur— 5 an ra hs Em exgmple ’in a de_ face. Other kinds of graphics, such as g. ‘ . g p ' p ’ . on of a graphs and Charts are often useful scription of how a four—stroke gasoline ascription supplements (see Chapter 12). engine operates, use diagrams to illus— d the trate the position of the valves and the 'f. ts activity occurring during each step. ) 1tS par - eaders, mu m Wm m light have )rms it (if it its function ) descrip- process is begins to process these data by removmg any background noise and mapping and he CYC'ZO“ calculating the touch area or areas Using its gesture-interpreting software, which com- |c\)i:/1i’t—he:ny bines these data with what it already knows about which function (such as the music | player) you were using, the processor then sends commands to th e music-player soft— ware and to the iPhone screen. How long does this process take? A nanosecond. Kw;mmuAvaikmwmmvxflnwwgv ,tmmmwmwm Writer’s Checklist » gleam“:1mm“amemwzw:mammmwwmm, maemmwamwm I . , communi- (QIIIIII IIIIIIIIIIIWIIMIII I III” cators need to be aware of cultural differences. For example, although a * ' I "" ““"”"_““ W? "* ns and a manual_ printer manualtranslated for an Italian audience presented nude models ffiam :arry out a task With strategically placed rectangles showmg the various colors the machine uals in Wired News. Click on ically shorter could reproduce it carefully av01ded explic1t advice abouthow to use the sample, a set of Links Library for Ch. 20 on < techcomm>. whereas a man— 0 What is the readers’ tech using a laptop nological ' nd to be longer its can include row to avoid p manual needs e . in providing detailed information, did you 11:01" mation l: answer, for each of the major components, the to include . . it typically has I Are the parenthetical definitions questions listed in the s (p. 552) appropriate for the audience? (p. 541) choose an appropriate organizing principle? (p. 552) _ I clear? (p. 542) - econd item in this section? inual has more— _ include graphics for each of the components? (p. 553) smoothly integrated into the sentences? (p. 542) - d the preface, in concluding the description, did you "In of a table, 035 eaCh Sentence definition , _ summarize the major points in the part—by—part 311 It also con- contain a sufficiently specific category and description? (p. 553) the manua1_ For diStingUiShing CharaCteflStiCS? (p- 543) _ include (Where appropriate) a description of the item Vboard keysI D aVOid d<9ISCfiblfIlgI0ne Pai‘fiCU'ar item When a general performing its function or an attempt to motivate Ifemng readers _ class of items is intended? (it). 543) readers to take action? (p. 553) te and a aVOidICircular definition? (p. 543) . . contain a noun or noun phrase in the category? (p. 543) precess flesgrfpfigng n listing the , . . . . - l: Did you clearly indicate the nature and scope of the :OmPameS~ Are the extended definitions developed logically and description? (p. 549) ecifications for clearly? (p. 543) mm and the location most useful to in introducing the description, did you answer, if appropri— intemnce ate, the following questions: ormation 9saries. C What is the process? (p. 551) : What is its function? (p. 551) I ' ' e and scope of the iuals appro- ‘ ' ' _ Where and When does the process take place? (p. 551) ‘ Who or what performs it? (p. 551) ions and I I I I I : How does the process work? (p. 551) r ption, did you answer, if appropri- ~ . cultures, _ , . . the followmg questions: )cuments: What are its principal steps? (p. 551) What is the item? (p. 551) _ Did you include a ‘ What does it do? (p. 551) steps? (p. 552) What is its function? (p. 551) hat does it rook like? (p_ 551) in providing detailed information hat is its principle of operation? (p. 551) . I: answer, for each of the ‘ at are its principal parts? (p. 551) for introducing a descri (p. 551) graphic identifying all the principal (: discuss the steps in chr ,logical sequence? (p. 5 graphic identifying all the principal , did you major steps, the questions ption in Table 20.1? you include a s? (p. 552) onological order or other 52) Writing Definitions, Descriptions, and instructions wwwmmmmmkwwwwwyWMaxwtfiwmmmwmmrmwws—wamflamuwwwSitter;Nmmfiamts>pawwsmwam=mzxwmw3mmwwwsasmwwmiemmmzam make clear the causal relationships among the steps? (p. 553) include graphics for the principal steps? (p. 553) concluding the description, did you summarize the major points in the step-by—step description? (p. 553) discuss, if appropriate, the importance or implications of the process? (p. 553) attempt, if appropriate, to motivate readers to take action? (p. 553) instmcfims l: Do the instructions have a clear title? (p. 563) Does the introduction to the set of instructions _ state the purpose of the task? (p. 564) (gift This flask For more about memos, see Ch. 14, p. 377. ‘5, Add a parenthetical definition for each italicized term in the following sentences: a. Reiuctantly, he decided to drop the physics course. b. Last week, the computer was down. 0. The department is using shareware in its drafting course. 2. Write a sentence definition for each of the following terms: a. catalyst b. job interview c. Web site 3. Revise any of the following sentence definitions that need revision: a. A thermometer measures temperature. b. The spark plugs are the things that ignite the air—gas mixture in a cylinder. 0. Parallel parking is where you park next to the curb. d. A strike is when the employees stop working. e. Multitasking is when you do two things at once while you’re on the computer. 4.. Write a 500— to 1 ,000—word extended definition of one of the following terms or of aterm used in yourfield of study. if you do secondary research, cite your sources clearly and accurately. in addition, check that the graphics are describe safety measures or other concerns that readers should understand? (p. 564) list necessary tools and materials? (p. 564) the step—by—step instructions numbered? (p. 564) expressed in the imperative mood? (p. 565) simple and direct? (p. 565) Are appropriate graphics included? (p. 565) Does the conclusion include any necessary follow-up advice? (p. 566) include, it appropriate, atroubleshooting guide? (p. 566) Are the instructions designed effectively, with adequate white space? (p. 565) is there a clear relationship between graphics and the accompanying text? (p.565) appropriate for your audience and purpose. in a brief note at the start, indicate your audience and purpose. a. flextime b. binding arbitration c. robotics d. an academic major (Don’t focus on any particul major; instead, define what a major is.) ' e. bioengineering 5. Write a 500— to 1,000-word description of one of the ro lowing items or of a piece of equipment used in yo field. Include appropriate graphics. In a note preced' the description, specify your audience and indicate t‘ type of description (general or particular) you are wr I a. dead-bolt lock b. photocopy machine 0. ammeter d. automobile jack e. camera phone 6. Write a 500— to 1,000-word description of one of th lowing processes or a similar process with which you familiar. include appropriate graphics. In a note p ing the description, specify your audience and ind the type of description (general or particular) writing. If you use secondary sources, cite them pr ...
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