TECHNICAL ENGLISH II
-Awareness of audience
-Details on language
3) Awareness of audience
4) Details on language
Process and procedure
•Procedure: a total operation or a complete set of actions that results in
some desired outcome.
•Process: a series of individual steps within the procedure that is followed to
achieve the outcome.
•Difference: We must follow a process in order to complete a procedure.
•Similarity: Both terms mean a way to get something done.
• People are reminded how to perform task
• Describing a process/procedure needs technical
• Two types of procedure:
i. A procedure that instructs or directs(e.g. Instruction
ii. A procedure that explains or analyses
“how something works or happens”
no need to recreate the process
Instruction explains ‘how to do something”
E.g.: how to make paper, how to operate a machine, how to
change flat tyre etc.
•The purpose of instruction is to clarify steps in
so that the reader can recreate the steps and
get the results or outcome planned.
•Readers needs to obey the step by step
instruction to accomplish the end result.
• In engineering, this type of procedure (instruction) is very
common and it is sometimes called operating procedure.
• Because processes or procedures are so common in
engineering, engineers often write them.
• E.g. write instructions to write a software manual for
computer users on how to run a program. Instruction for
complex equipment like reservoir or wastewater treatment.
You may even have to instruct the public on the safety
precautions for using a high-voltage dust blower that your
• Risk of badly written instructions:
– lf the software manual is disorganised users of the program may waste
valuable time searching for command.
– If the instructions on how to operate the equipment are unclear, they
may fail to function or, worse still, get damaged.
– If the safety precautions for your company’s high-voltage dust blower
are ambiguous, someone could get injured.
• Instructions must be written well so that money, time, and
health will not be jeopardised.
• The purpose of instruction is to clarify steps so
that the reader can recreate the steps and get
the results or outcome planned; in this case
the expected outcome is to overcome a
• Review on examples:
how to make paper, how to operate a
machine, how to change flat tyre & how to
run a computer programme
Example of (troubleshooting)
How to change a flat tyre:
Step-by-step process or procedure for changing a tyre:
1. Loosen the nuts on the wheel.
2. Raise the car with a jack.
3. Remove the nuts and take off the wheel.
4. Fix the spare tyre.
5. Replace the nuts.
6. Lower the car to the ground.
7. Tighten the nuts. (Make sure they are completely
8. Drive away.
• See video
AWARENESS OF AUDIENCE
• Be aware of the audience. Always ask questions like:
"Who read my process explanation?”
"What do my equipment operator or users know about my
• Audience have different needs and require different
information from a procedure. In fact, it is said that “nowhere
is the difference between personality-based preferences for
information more important than in the writing of
procedures” (Sides, 1999)
• Knowing the audience well will prevent writers from including
irrelevant information in the procedure they are writing.
• For instance, you decided to explain how to change a flat tyre.
– lf the audience is inexperienced, you need to explain the process in
detail or be very specific. We assume the audience knows very little or
nothing about the process
– If the audience is experienced, your explanation of the process might
be simple and precise because they need only an overview and a
general sense of what they are going to do.
• For operating procedures, the typical audience are the technicians
who operate equipment. This audience varies, depending on the
type of equipment and how detailed the procedures need to be
• For example, some technicians are high school graduates who have
been through training programmes, while others have college
degrees or various levels of technical knowledge.
• It is, therefore very important to know what types of audience we
are writing or describing the process or procedure for.
• Remember, it is the audience that determines how engineers write
the procedures and the language they use.
DETAILS ON LANGUAGE
DETAILS ON LANGUAGE
• Language and vocabulary
• Contents: 5 key factors to know when writing the content for
the procedure (instruction):
• Must know why the procedure is written.
– Expected result
• If it is troubleshooting instruction expected result is solving the
– Actions to perform
• Actions must be doable and complete
• *see next slide
– Common mistakes
• Anticipate typical mistakes and ways to correct them.
• The following are headings that have widely accepted meaning in
highlighting dangers/cautions in a procedure:
– Danger: reserved for steps in a procedure that could lead to serious injury
or loss of life if readers do not have any prior experience using this
"Those who never have the experience of operating this machine, should
first read the instructions in the manual to avoid any accidents”
o Warnings: used for steps that could result in damage to the product if the
procedures are not followed accurately
“Keep it out of reach of children.“
o Caution: applied to steps where faulty results could occur if the reader does not
follow the procedure strictly
"Do not install the Adapter in your PC until you are instructed to do so in Step 2 or
the Adapter will not install properly”
o Note: used to alert readers to potential problems.
“Some differences might occur in the result due to several factors like temperature,
.... and so forth”
o Advice: reserved for making suggestions that would facilitate the reader’s work.
"Close supervision by an expert is recommended in the procedure execution”
Language and vocabulary
iii. Recommendation and Advice
i. Use simple words
ii. Define new and Unfamiliar terms
iii. Use consistent terminology
iv. Use customer terminology
v. Use powerful action verbs
vi. Use connectives
vii. Use modals
While present tense is usually correct in technical writing, there
are notable exceptions. Use future tense when describing activities
that the company or a customer has yet to perform. Use past tense
when discussing completed activities, or actions done during analyses or
Tenses to avoid: past perfect and future perfect
Conditional should be used to describe a hypothetical situation or even
1. If the cover fails to close under these conditions, consequences will
iii. Recommendation and Advice
Procedures may include advice and recommendation to
users. The following are some examples:
a-You should click the Refresh button if ........ ....
b- It is a good idea to activate the machine promptly.
The sentences for all steps in a procedure need to be parallel or consistent. For
example, look at the example of a procedure in mixing concrete. All steps begin with
command verbs or imperative. You cannot mix a command verb (which is in the base
form ) with verbs in the other form like participle, progressive or in the singular present
E.g.: 1) Dampen entire inside of mixer drum and drain.
2) Add coarse aggregate, some of the mixing water, and solution to the
3) Start mixer.
i.Use simple words
use direct and simple words instead of long and pretentious words
as the former deliver more value.
Use buy instead of procure
Use conditions instead of parameters
i.Define new and unfamiliar terms
Especially true for a process meant to give instructions.
i) When explaining how a car braking system works, you need to
explain what slave cylinder is; otherwise the reader would not know which
tool is being discussed and thus to understand how the car braking system works.
vi. Use consistent terminology
Use the same term for words (with same meaning) that are repeatedly used
throughout the procedure.
E.g.: the words envelop, enfold and encompass have the same meaning.Use only
vii. Use powerful action verbs
If you want procedure to be read and used, focus on specific actions. Use
powerful not weak action verbs. Follow this tip:
° Use verbs, not nouns.
Use verbs whenever possible. Do not turn them into as verbs are stronger than
Write “:Remove (Verb) any concrete stuck in the mixer using a scoop”
Not "Removal (Noun) of any concrete stuck in mixer using a scoop is
viii. Use bullets/numbered steps or use connectives
Especially useful when you write steps of a procedure (instruction):
The steps are as follows:
The following are steps to download the sony AMC Mobile through WEB
If you don’t plan to use these, then you need connective to show the sequence.
To start of: The first step/stage is…, …begins with,
Sequencing: After this, the next step, second, later
Ending: Eventually, lastly, finally, in the last stage.
ix. Use modals
Modals are used extensively in procedure writing. Different modals
indicate different functions:
Strong command: Shall, must. Will
Strong prohibition: Must not, cannot, may not
Weak suggestion: Should, can, may, alternatively
The following summarizes the do’s and don’ts of word choice in
1. Use the most simple words appropriate to 1. Do not use weak phrases such as ”at a
the intent of the statement. minimum”, "be able to", ”capable of” and ”not
2. Define and explain new words or materials, 2. Do not use words or terms that allow readers
strange, unfamiliar and highly technical an option on the extent that the procedure is to
words. be satisfied such as "may”, "if required”, "if
possible”, ”as appropriate”, and "perhaps".
3. Use powerful verbs to show action 3. Do not use generalities where numbers are
really required such as ”large”, ”some”, "tall”,
”rapid”, "timely”, "many” or "close”.
4. Use appropriate modals to indicate 4. Do not use fuzzy words that have relative
functions. Use imperatives correctly and be meanings such as ”easy”, "normal”, "good”,
consistent. Remember shall "prescribes", will ”adequate” or "effective”.
”describes”, must and must not "constrain”,
and should ”suggests”.
5. Use linkers for sequencing and
• *All slides in this presentation are adapted
from Noorzan Mohd Noor et al.
(2010)Technical English Skills.