Date: by ZrL1k11



Lesson Title:           Introduction to Technical Writing

Program:                Information Technology

Author:                 Anne Marie Orr, Kelly Bell, Dan Matheney

Technical and Academic Content Standards:

   Competency 16.1: Demonstrate proficiency in working with
   microcomputer systems

   Competency 16.2: Demonstrate proficiency in working with basic
   computer system architecture

   Competency 16.8: Identify and explain CPU and system components

   Competency 36.8: Demonstrate knowledge of developing a training

   Competency 36.10: Maintain interactive media equipment

   Competency 44.1: Demonstrate knowledge of project planning

   Competency 46.1: Evaluate technical writing requirements

   Competency 46.2: Write technical reports

   Competency 46.3: Conduct technical research

   Competency 46.4: Design technical documentation

   Competency 46.5: Develop technical documentation

   Correlated English Language Arts Academic Content Benchmarks
   Explain difference among accuracy, precision and error, and describe how each of those
   can affect solutions in measurement situations. (Measurement A, 11-12)
   Formulate writing ideas, and identify a topic appropriate to the purpose and audience.
   (Writing Process A, 8-10; Writing Process A, 11-12)
   Determine the usefulness of organizers and apply appropriate pre-writing tasks. (Writing
   Process B, 8-10)
   Produce functional documents that report, organize and convey information and ideas
   accurately, foresee readers' problems or misunderstandings and include formatting
   techniques that are user friendly. (Writing Applications C, 11-12)
   Produce informational essays or reports that establish a clear and distinctive perspective
   on the subject, include relevant perspectives, take into account the validity and reliability


   of sources and provide a clear sense of closure. (Writing Applications D, 11-12)
   Use revision strategies to improve the style, variety of sentence structure, clarity of
   controlling idea, logic, effectiveness of word choice and transitions between paragraphs,
   passages or ideas. (Writing Process C, 8-10; Writing Process C, 11-12)
   Edit to improve sentence fluency, grammar and usage. (Writing Process D, 8-10)
   Formulate open-ended research questions suitable for inquiry and investigation and
   adjust questions as necessary while research is conducted. (Research A, 8-10; Research
   A, 11-12)
   Evaluate the usefulness and credibility of data and sources. (Research B, 8-10)
   Evaluate the usefulness and credibility of data and sources, and synthesize information
   from multiple sources. (Research C, 11-12)
   Organize information from various resources and select appropriate sources to support
   central ideas, concepts and themes. (Research C, 8-10)
   Give presentations using a variety of delivery methods, visual displays and technology.
   (Communication G, 8-10; Communication F, 11-12)
   Apply tools to judge the quality of their writing. (Writing Process E, 8-10)
   Prepare writing for publication that follows an appropriate format and uses a variety of
   techniques to enhance the final product. (Writing Process F, 11-12)
   Communicate findings, reporting on the substance and processes orally, visually and in
   writing or through multimedia. (Research E, 11-12)

   Correlated Mathematics Academic Content Benchmarks
   Compare, order and determine equivalent forms of real numbers. (Number E, 8-10)
   Explain the effects of operations on the magnitude of quantities. (Number F, 8-10)
   Estimate, compute and solve problems involving real numbers, including ratio, proportion
   and percent, and explain solutions. (Number G, 8-10)
   Use descriptive statistics to analyze and summarize data, including measures of center,
   dispersion, correlation and variability. (Data B, 11-12)
   Design and perform a statistical experiment, simulation or study; collect and interpret
   data; and use descriptive statistics to communicate and support predictions and
   conclusions. (Data C, 11-12)
   Connect statistical techniques to applications in workplace and consumer situations.
   (Data D, 11-12)
   Locate and interpret mathematical information accurately, and communicate ideas,
   processes and solutions in a complete and easily understood manner. (Math. Process H,
   Apply mathematical modeling to workplace and consumer situations, including problem
   formulation, identification of a mathematical model, interpretations of solution within the
   model, and validation to original problem situation. (Math. Process J, 11-12)

Lesson Summary: Students will demonstrate an understanding of the purposes and
             uses of technical writing. Students will analyze samples of
      technical writing to evaluate their purposes and effectiveness.
      Students will demonstrate competency in composing technical
      writing pieces for various audiences using principles of technical
      writing organization and page layout/design.

Essential Question: Based on audience and purpose, how is a technical writing piece


Estimated Duration: Three to four weeks

Problem: The school's computer lab is in need of twenty new computers and
      the IT lab has been given the task of building these computers.
      Senior students have the knowledge but not the time to build the
      computers since the hardware will be delivered in the second
      semester when the seniors are co-oping and not in lab any longer.
      The seniors are charged with creating a manual for the junior
      students to follow, allowing the juniors to build the needed
      computers. Each senior is assigned an integral part of the
      computer on which to focus his/her instructions for the manual.

Entry Event: Using at least 12 examples of various instructions, have students
      pair to evaluate sets of instructions, noting both positive and
      negative traits. Students may then grade each set of instructions.
      Use “Grading Instructions with a Team” to facilitate this
      assignment, then discuss as a class. Use “Grading Instructions”
      sheet that follows:


Grading Instructions                                                      Name___________

1. Instructions for_____________________________________________________

         Effective features                                  Ineffective features

    1.                                                  1.
    2.                                                  2.
    3.                                                  3.
    Grade              A          B                 C                 D             F

2. Instructions for______________________________________________________

                                                       1.
                                                       2.
                                                       3.
    Grade              A          B             C                     D             F

3. Instructions for________________________________________________________

         1.                                             1.
         2.                                             2.
         3.                                             3.
    Grade              A      B            C                      D           F

4. Instructions for________________________________________________________
                                              1.
                                              2.
                                              3.
    Grade              A      B            C                     D           F

5. Instructions for_____________________________________________________
    Grade               A     B            C                     D           F


Strategies for Related Class or Laboratory Activities:

    1. Discussion Groups                         7. Resource Person(s)
    2. Lecture                                   8. AV Presentation
    3. Demonstration                             9. Role Play
    4. Supervised Study                          10. Computer Aided Instruction
    5. Individual Research                       11. Case Problem
    6. Field Trip                                12. Other:

Equipment, Materials, and Other Resources:
        Computer system, Internet access, PowerPoint presentation, handouts, paper,
        pencil/pen, various sets of instructions, Internet sources for technical writing.

Evaluation/Performance Assessment:

    1. Written Quiz                              6. Completed Project
    2. Oral Quiz                                 7. Peer Evaluation
    3. Instructor Observation                    8. Self Evaluation
    4. Performance Test                          9. Written Report
    5. Written Unit Test                         10. Other: Group Discussion

Pre-Assessment and Motivation:

What are the different purposes for writing? Which are creative vs. technical in nature?
   Creative: artistic, vague, subjective, thoughts, opinions, attitudes, general
    audience, fictional, imaginative, entertaining
   Technical: clear, concise, precise, straightforward, objective, specialized
    vocabulary, target audience, factual, informative, instructional, accurate

Examine various technical writings; analyze them based on purpose and effectiveness.
    font type, size, style
    use of white space
    use of visuals, graphics
    length
    visual appeal

Formative Assessment:
                   Instructor Observation, Peer Evaluation, Self Evaluation, Oral
                   Discussions, Written Assignments, Research, Oral Quiz (as a
                   milestone), Written Quiz (as a milestone)

Post Evaluation:       Performance Test, Written Unit Test, Completed Project


Instructional Procedures:

   1) Discuss technical writing versus creative writing, noting purposes, audience, and
      vocabulary associated with each type of writing. Brainstorm vocabulary with
      students, then fill gaps as needed from vocabulary listing. Use “Technical
      Writing Introduction” to facilitate discussion.


Technical Writing

Today we are going to discuss technical writing and its importance in the work place.
Have you been doing any technical writing in your classes? What kind have you tried?

I have a poster here with a good definition of technical writing:

                            What is Technical Writing?

                      “Technical writing conveys specific
                      information about a technical subject to a
                      specific audience for a specific
                      purpose….The words and graphics of
                      technical writing are meant to be practical:
                      that is, to communicate a body of factual
                      information that will help an audience
                      understand a subject or carry out a task.”

                                                -Michael H. Markel
                              Director of Technical Communication
                                             Boise State University

                                 Characteristics of
                            Effective Technical Writing

                  Clarity- easy understood by intended audience

                  Accuracy- factual, correct, free from bias

                  Comprehensiveness- all necessary information

                  Accessibility- headings, indexes, table of contents

                  Conciseness- clear without excess verbiage

                  Correctness- grammatical and follows conventions


We are going to compare technical writing to creative writing. Do you get to do creative
writing in your classes—poetry, stories, plays? What differences can you think of
between creative and technical writing?

      Creative writing is fictional and imaginative while technical writing is factual.

      Creative writing is entertaining, provocative, and captivating while technical
       writing is informative, instructional and persuasive.

      Creative writing can be artistic, figurative, symbolic, ambiguous, and even vague,
       but technical writing needs to be clear, precise and straight-forward, leaving no
       room for misinterpretations. It needs to follow accepted standards for grammar
       and format, while creative writing can break the rules.

      Creative writing is subjective, with the thoughts, opinions, and attitudes of the
       writer. Technical writing must be objective.

      Creative writing uses a general vocabulary understood by a general audience,
       narrowed somewhat by age group or interest. Technical writing uses specialized
       vocabulary dependent in the topic as well as on the familiarity of the target
       audience with the topic.

      Creative writing can be lucrative for the few who create best sellers, but technical
       writing provides career opportunities with good salaries for thousands and
       thousands of writers in all kinds of businesses and industries.

Today we are going to do some technical writing—writing instructions. Probably more
technical writers write some sort of instructions than any other type of technical writing.
And quite often the writer does the research, the writing, the editing, and often even the
illustrating and formatting. That is what you are going to do today.


2) Discuss audience and its effect on method of presentation and content of the
   message to achieve the purpose. Use “Technical Writing Magazine Assignment”
   to facilitate this discussion. Students will determine from handout which
   publications and their audiences would utilize creative versus technical writing
   and why.


                                                                                         Technical Writing

                                        Who Are Magazines Reaching?

For each of these target groups, list several (5-6) magazines that are obviously written for the target











In your group, select one of the magazines you identified and look through it more closely. List at least
four adjustments the editors have made to accommodate the needs of their readers.


   3) Students will complete “Technical Writing Quiz” as a benchmark of

                                                    Name: _________________
              Technical Writing Quiz
              15 points

              ____   1. It is appropriate to include two or more instructions in one step.
              ____   2. Steps should begin with action verb.
              ____   3. Some readers prefer to use visuals before reading steps.
              ____   4. Personality is important in determining how to write a technical
              ____   5. You should use jargon to enhance a technical document.
              ____   6. Technical documents should always be written for one specific
              ____   7. It is important to know the culture of your audience.
              ____   8. Technical documents always include an introduction.
              ____   9. Explanations following a step should be used if it explains why it
                        is important to complete the step.
              ____   10. Fill the page with text and graphics and use small margins.
              ____   11. Backtracking is important because it allows a reader to go back
                          and redo a step.
              ____   12. Short paragraphs should be left aligned.
              ____   13. Technical documents should use 10-12 point serif fonts.
              ____   14. Technical documents should leave room for the reader to make
              ____   15. The more underlining, italics, and bold used in a technical
                           document the better.

4) Students will pair. One person will give oral instructions to the other student to
replicate a drawing. No feedback or questions may be asked. Reversing roles, the pair


will do the same with another drawing but may ask questions and use feedback. A
discussion of benefits and limitations to both will occur.


5) Students will learn to write numbers as words and figures as appropriate, and
   write clear four-part warnings as seen in good technical writing pieces. Students
   will refer to “Writing Numbers Correctly” and “Giving Precautions and


                           Writing Numbers Correctly
When writing instructions and other workplace documents, carefully write numbers. A
hastily written 5 can look like an S; a 4 can look like a 9. The following table shows
when to use words and when to use figures when writing numbers. When you follow
these guidelines, you help the audience to read numbers accurately.

                           Guidelines for Writing Numbers

Use Figures for                                  Examples
1. Dates, house numbers (except One),            July 30, 1990; 600 Race Street; 61 percent;
telephone numbers, ZIP Codes, specific           555-0103; 10:30 p.m.; Chapter 12; $29.54
amounts, mathematical expressions, etc.
2. Measures, weights, and dimensions.            The recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar, ½
                                                 teaspoon of salt, 1 stick of butter, and ¼
                                                 cup of cocoa.
3. Numerals expressed as decimals.               12.0006
4. Numbers above ten or numbers that             She sold 12 new cars in 2 ½ hours.
require three or more words.
5. Several related numbers (including            We ordered 20 reams of paper, 3 boxes of
fractions) that occur within a sentence.         envelopes, and 5 printer cartridges.
6. One of two numbers occurring next to          12 fifty-gallon containers
each other.
Use Words For                                    Examples
7. One of two numbers occurring next to          50 six-cylinders cars
each other.                                      four 3,600-pound loads
8. Numbers from one through ten.                 I left work two hours early.
9. A number that begins a sentence               Fifty cents is a fair entrance fee.
                                                 Sixty percent of first-year students come
                                                 from this area.
Note: If using words for numbers at the          Wrong: 2,175 orders are ready.
beginning of a sentence is awkward,              Awkward: Two thousand, one hundred
reorganize the sentence.                         seventy-five orders are ready.
                                                 Correct: We have 2,175 orders ready.
10. Numbers that are approximate or              You’ll save hundreds of dollars.
indefinite.                                      About fifty machines were returned.
11. Fractions                                    Our department receives three-fourths of
                                                 the funding.


Giving Precautions and Warnings
Using effective language is especially important whenever safety is concerned. Warn
your listener or reader of any hazards that you can foresee as instructions are being
followed. Always provide warnings at the point in your instructions when the audience is
most likely to encounter the problem. If your audience reads the warnings two hours
before encountering the potential danger, they may forget. On the other hand, if you
caution them at the end of your instructions, it may already be too late.

An effective warning or precaution contains four types of information: a signal word, a
hazard identification, the result of ignoring the warning, and instructions for avoiding
the hazard.

       DANGER                          Signal Word
    HIGH VOLTAGE                       Hazard identification
Can cause severe injury or death
 Disconnect transformer leads          Result of ignoring the warning
  before removing this panel           Avoiding the hazard

The Signal Word

A precaution warns the audience to be careful, while a warning gives a stronger message
that severe harm will occur if the warning is ignored. The signal words DANGER,
WARNING, STOP, CAUTION or IMPORTANT, written in large, capital, bold letters,
will get the audience’s attention. The colors red or yellow will also help attract your

The Hazard Identification

This part of the message tells the audience what the hazard is. The hazard identification
should appear in bold print. Electrical shock, Radiation, and Hazardous Vapors are
some examples. Use sentence case for this part. In sentence case the first letter of the
first word is capitalized.

The Result of Ignoring the Warning

The next part of the message describes what will happen if the warning is ignored. It tells
what damage the Radiation, Hazardous vapors, Electrical shock, etc., will cause. Use
sentence case for this part.


Avoiding the Hazard

The last part of a precaution or warning gives detailed instructions for avoiding the
hazard. This section must be concise and well organized. Use simple, direct commands
in sentence case.
    6) Students will learn effective page design techniques such as graphic placement,
        use of white space, headings, sources, titles, bullets, and numbered steps. Use of
        jargon, syntax and tone will be discussed as well. Students will edit a flawed set
        of instructions. Use “Editing Flawed Instructions.”


        Editing Instructions                             Name_____________________

                    How to retrieve items lost down drains

                If a ring or other tiny small object drops into a sink drain, you can get it
        out without spending a lot of money on a plumber because plumbers can be very,
        very expensive and you don’t want to spend that kind of money for something that
        you can maybe do your self just by following some simple easy instructions. Just
        follow the steps on this page and your ring or contact lense or whatever will be
        out of that rain before you know it!

                        Straighten coat hanger, large wrench, empty pale.

       Take and use a large rench to loosen the slip nuts.
       Slide the nuts up the drainpipe and free the U-shaped sink trap from the drainpipe
        that goes into the wall or into the floor.
       You should place an empty pale under the pipe to catch the small amount of water
        that will spill our when you take the pipe appart.


                                  Do not run water.

   Shake the pipe to free the object. Some people have to use a straightened coat hanger
    to get the object out of the pipe

Now your ring or contact lense or whatever is saved!


7) Students will practice their instructional writing by creating paper airplanes, writing
instructions to match, then having a classmate follow said instructions. Chronological
order, command form, concise, precise and clear writing as well as appropriate word
choice will be the focus after completing exercises in the text. Clarity will also be
illustrated here. Students will learn different visuals to incorporate into technical
documents, such as drawings, models, graphics, pictures, charts, graphs, etc.

8) Students will choose a task to include in the junior manual such as installing RAM,
replacing a video card, etc. Students will plan their project using the “Technical Writing
Project Plan.” Once complete, students will create a technical document utilizing all
areas of technical writing learned in this unit. Grading criteria are after the plan sheet.


PROJECT GUIDE                                               Name___________________


             PAGE DESIGN & VISUALS                               /30
1. Effective white space and placement.
2. Correct and effective title and headings.
3. Neat, informative, appropriate visuals.

4. Visuals clearly labeled and referred to in text.
5. Easy to read. Accurately keyed.
     AUDIENCE ANALYSIS & ADAPTATION                               /20
1. Topic appropriate for intended audience.
2. Unfamiliar terms defined.
3. Clear purpose
                       CONTENT                                    /30
1. Introduction encourages reader to follow instructions.
2. Necessary materials, equipment, conditions listed.
3. Numbered steps in chronological order.
4. Includes HOW as well as WHAT to do.
5. Includes a correct four-part warning, if needed.
6. Clear, well-organized, complete, accurate.
7. Important information emphasized.
                     MECHANICS                                    /20
1. Correct spelling, capitalization, punctuation.
2. Correct and clear sentences and paragraphs.
3. Correct word choice, numbers, verb tense/agreement.
4. Concise and precise language.
5. Steps stated as commands.



  PROJECT PLAN for instructions                    Name_________________
SUBJECT                How to:                                      CONTENT
                                                                 Main steps to follow:

AUDIENCE               Why should           they   follow

PURPOSE                What actions should the audience

FORMAT                     written
                           oral
                           other


VISUALS                What visuals, if any, will make
                       the instruction more effective?

PREPARATION            Necessary conditions, materials,
                       equipment:                           Necessary precautions/warnings:


9) Students will practice writing active voice rather than passive voice sentences by
   completing “Active & Passive Voice Wkst.”


       Chapter 4                Applied Communications           Name________

       Some students get confused between passive constructions and active verb
constructions that include helping verbs. A verb is active when the subject of the
verb performs the action. A verb is passive when the subject receives the action.
Use the following sentences to help students distinguish between active ad passive

           1. Bruce has adopted two kittens from the humane society.

                       active         passive

       2. My teeth were cleaned by the hygienist.

                       active         passive

3. The lost child was last seen at the park.

                       active         passive

4. Our essays were reviewed by a committee of accountants.

                       active         passive

           5. My mother has been chosen by the mayor to speak on Founder’s Day.

                       active         passive

   6. We had watched most of the movie when the VCR broke.

                       active         passive

       Below, correct all passive voice sentences above making them active voice.


10) Students will use a spreadsheet to estimate the building of a computer from scratch.
Students will research the cost and availability of parts of the computer for a basic model,
a mid-range model and a dream computer. The manual created by the students will be
used to assist in the creation of this spreadsheet. Students will include a writing
explaining the benefits/capabilities of various styles they created and their components.


Comparing Cost of Building a Computer from Scratch
                # of Items Bare Minimum Middle Grade Dream Computer
                           Cost         Cost         Cost

Mother Board
Graphics Card
Network Card


Time to


11) Students will digitize their writings by creating an online manual complete with a
    video exemplifying the task in their technical writing. This technical online
    manual will be graded with the “Technical Documentation Rubric.”



12) Instructions written by students will be followed by novices (juniors) to see if the
instructions are complete and accurate, as well as clear and concise. The juniors will
build the computers needed for the lab now. The “Technical Documentation Rubric” will
be used by the novice (junior) and the instructor to evaluate the instructions.

13) Students will take a test over giving instructions labeled “Giving Instructions Test.”


Name_____________________________                                   Date_______________________

                                CHAPTER 4 – GIVING INSTRUCTIONS
Multiple Choice * In the following sentences, the words in italics are not correct or could be clearer or
more concise. Write the letter of the word or phrase that is the best replacement for the italicized words
in the blank space. If the italicized words are the best choice, choose “Correct as is.”

_____ 1.     The snow was pretty deep, about 27” endangering the azaleas we planted last spring.
       very deep,
       about 27 inches deep,
       about twenty-seven inches deep,
       Correct as is
______ 2.     We need to make a decision at this particular point in time about who’s in charge of this
          at this time
          now
          Both a and b are correct
         Correct as is
______ 3.      The manager said to the auto technician, “Why did you use that yellow-colored paint on
               the BMW when the owner asked for Forest Green # 312?
                        a. yellow paint
                        b. Amber Green #14
                        c. Ugly paint
                        d. Correct as is
______ 4.       Sheila, who plays guard on the basketball team, has grown up to the height of six feet
      has grown up to be 6 feet tall.
      Is as tall as 6 feet.
      Is 6 feet tall.
      Correct as is
______ 5.       14 motorcycles were blocking Main Street.
                        a. fourteen motorcycles
                        b. Fourteen motorcycles
                        c. Both a and b are correct
                        d. Correct as is
______ 6.        When Ahmad completed the inventory at Builder’s depot, he discovered that
                nine door frames were missing.
               4. a bunch of door frames
               5. 9 door frames
               6. nine door frames, more or less,
               7. Correct as is
______ 7.         Please pick up twelve nine-pin connectors.


                4.   12 9-pin
                5.   twelve 9-pin
                6.   12 nine-pin
                7.   Correct as is
   _____ 8.           The witness asked to put together a description of the auto accident for the police
                      police report.
                    describe
                    write a description of
                    tell in her own words about
                    Correct as is
   _____ 9.            In the year of nineteen hundred eighteen, a deadly flu epidemic struck the
                       United States.
                              a. In the year 1918,
                              b. In 1918,
                              c. In nineteen hundred eighteen,
                              d. Correct as is
   _____ 10.            Juno is located in the state of Alaska.
                              a. in Alaska
                              b. in the great state of Alaska
                              c. in the western state of Alaska.
                              d. Correct as is

Completion* One of the following statements is a command. Rewrite the other four as commands.

          11.         The lights should be turned on before 9 p.m.

          12.         You should put the car in park before taking your foot off the brake.

          13.         Before fixing the salad, you ought to wash your hands.

          14.         If you have not had the proper training, you should not move an accident victim.

          15.         Call the meeting to order as soon as the members of the committee are seated.


Name_____________________________                                                   Date___________________

Matching* Each section in the insurance below is marked by a letter (from A to E) in brackets. Put each
section’s letter in the blank below that makes a correct statement about that part of the instructions. A letter
may be used more than once. Some statements may have more than one letter. If statement does not have a
letter write no match in the blank.

    16.       Items should be bulleted.

    17.       Items should be numbered.

    18.       Items are out of sequence

    19.       Correct as is

    20.       The box containing the hint should follow which section?

    21.       The box containing the hint is correctly placed.

    22.       The napkin should be under the knife.

                                                How to Set the Table

                                                [A.]    Introduction

When you fix a meal for someone special in your life, perhaps your boss or your new in-laws-to-be, it’s nice
to know which side of the plate the fork goes on. A properly set table always makes a good impression.

                                                [B.]   Items You’ll Need

    1.      Matching plates and glasses. Include cups and saucers, if needed.
    2.      Matching utensils (knives, forks, and spoons)
    3.       Napkins
    4.    Place
    5.    A clean
                                                [C.] Steps

         Put the glass above the knife
         Put each place mat parallel to the table and about one inch from the table’s edge.
         Put each plate in the center of the place mat with the napkin on the left.
         Place the fork on the napkin.


     Place the knife on the right with the blade toward the plate.

    Hint: Be sure dishes and silverware are clean before setting the table. A clean
    dish towel can be used to remove dust from glasses.


           Key Vocabulary:

           Audience, oral instructions, locational instructions, chronological order, bullets,
           warnings, precautions, hazards, signal words, landmarks, precise, concise, command
           form, page design, visuals, typeface, type style, font, headings, models, objects,
           drawings, photographs, diagrams, clarity, illustrations, render, node, animate, jargon,
           syntax, tone.

           Lesson Summary:

           Students learned the purposes and uses of technical writing. Students analyzed samples
           of technical writing for purpose and effectiveness. Students learned and used principles
           of technical writing organization and page layout to compose effective technical writing
           pieces based on audience and purpose. Students utilized printed/digitized manual to
           build a computer after having a novice follow instructions for clarity and accuracy.


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