Mechanism Description • Description of a tool, machine, or other mechanical device—usually with moving parts—designed to perform a specific kind of work • Examples: ballpoint pen, flush toilet, copy machine, press, radio, camera, etc. Process/Procedure Description • Description of an unvarying series of events producing a predictable outcome • Process—a natural phenomenon governed by physical laws • Procedure—events that occur under human control • Examples: – Process—photosynthesis, erosion, water cycle – Procedure—balancing a checkbook, operating a machine, purifying water, taking a temperature, filing a grievance Instructions • Explanation of how to perform a particular procedure, enabling a reader to duplicate a process • Example: computer manuals, assembly instructions, policy manual Mechanism Descriptions • General Description—description accurate with respect to all such mechanisms, regardless of variables • Specific Description—description accurate for one particular mechanism • Examples: camera, Nikon One Touch Zoom ballpoint pen, Ajax Super Ballpoint Sony Z-16 Color TV, television Components • Brief introduction defining mechanism and its purpose • Precise description of appearance • List of major parts • Explanation of how mechanism works • One or more visuals (esp. exploded, cutaway) • Conclusion (history, availability, manufacturer, cost, etc.) • List of outside sources Order of Description • Top to bottom, or bottom to top • Left to right, or right to left • Inside to outside, or outside to inside • Most important to least important, or least important to most important Other Guidelines • Use specific, concrete wording – Piece of paper vs. 8.5 by 11-inch piece of paper – Colorful vs. red, hard lead vs. 2h lead • Use present tense, active verbs – The machine stamps. . . vs. The machine stamped OR The parts are stamped by the machine • Add evaluative comments – The quick release reduces change time by 33%. – The most useful feature is the cancel option. • Use analogy (comparison) – A-frame, C-clamp, T-square, claw hammer – . . . a disk about the size of a typical CD Instructions • General Instructions—instructions that explain how to perform a generic procedure • Specific Instructions—instructions that explain how to perform a procedure under conditions involving particular equipment, surroundings, or other variables • Examples: • Trimming a hedge, using a Black & Decker Auto Shop electric hedge trimmer • Braking a vehicle, braking in wet conditions • Installing an electrical outlet, installing a GFCI outlet Components • Brief introduction explaining the purpose and importance of the procedure • List of materials, equipment, tools, and skills required • Actual instructions: numbered, step-by-step, detailed explanation of how to perform • One or more visuals for clarification • Brief conclusion • List of outside sources, if any Guidelines • Use short, simple commands; start with a verb • Separate steps unless closely related or simultaneous • If important, provide reason for step • Include WARNING, CAUTION, and NOTE – Warning—alerts to possible injury or death – Caution—alerts to possible equipment damage – Note—alerts to information that will make the procedure easier or more efficient • If necessary, use separate series of steps. • Include no more than 9 steps in a series. • Provide introduction/transition to each series.