Write instructions for performing a task and present the instructions with an introduction and illustrations, as appropriate. As a result of using your instructions, a reader should be able to complete the task successfully and without frustration.
Your instructions must meet the following criteria:
-they instruct on a task that is not dangerous, unethical, offensive, or illegal
-they should be moderately complex, but not too complex (Choose a procedure with at least three but no more than six major steps. You may have substeps).
Audience and selection of task:
-Your classmates, or selected people among your classmates, are your audience. You can assume knowledge of common tools and terms but not necessarily of specialized ones.
-You have to be able to keep in mind that your reader may not be as familiar with a task, so you have to make conscious decisions to include/exclude certain information.
-You have to make them aware of the possible risks or dangers that could come about as a result of following through on the instructions.
-You will give instructions on a task your classmates don’t know how to do but one they could reasonably expect to learn from your paper within not more than an hour. This requirement eliminates common tasks such as shampooing hair (which all your classmates know how to do) and complex tasks such as writing a computer program or playing the trumpet (which we couldn’t learn from a short set of instructions).
-No recipes, but you could give instructions on using a specialized piece of cooking equipment, such as a wok, or on some specialized procedure for preparing food.
-Use visuals that are clearly labeled and referred to and that aid in user comprehension of the instructions.
Other unacceptable topics:
-tying a necktie (I’ve read so many of these.)
-common tasks which you can perform with common home appliances (applying makeup, programming VCR’s, setting an alarm radio clock, etc.–these appliances are usually accompanied by sets of instructions and manuals)
-again, no recipes Procedures that have worked successfully in the past (so they may work well now):
-preparing a microscope slide
-finding an online discussion group and subscribing to it
-measuring blood pressure
-locating, downloading, and installing a file from CNET shareware.com, Filedudes.com , or a similar download site
-making a topographical map
-deleting the contents of the cache in your browser
-mounting an insect
-creating sections in Microsoft word for complex pagination
-copying a compact disc to a blank disc
-building something with Legos
-creating a “style” in Microsoft Word
-making Christmas decorations
-creating a graphic for a written assignment
-other computer- and Internet-related tasks
-there are others in the book but if you aren’t sure talk to me
Visual Design and usability
Use headings to show major divisions, “white space” and other typographical devices to call attention to warnings, and illustrations (properly labeled and placed) as helpful. Use a running header and page numbers to identify the project on each page.
Your audience and assumptions should be clear from your introduction, but if additional information would help me evaluate your work, please let me know in a memo of transmittal.
Suggestions for Responding Successfully
Keep in mind the following eight tips for completing this assignment successfully:
1. Analyze your audience and purpose carefully. The assignment stipulates that you indicate your audience and purpose (in the introduction). This step is important in all technical communication, of course, but it is especially critical in instructional writing, for only if you come to a clear understanding of who you are writing to and what you want to accomplish can you write an effective set of instructions. Therefore, indicate explicitly and specifically on your assignment your audience and purpose. For example, “My audience is adults who are considering buying their first pair of rollerblades. My purpose is to help them understand how to choose the right kind of rollerblades for their intended purpose.”
2. Choose a topic you understand well. This assignment is not a good occasion to learn about a topic you’ve always wanted to understand. Select a topic that you are at least fairly knowledgeable about, either from a personal hobby, coursework at school, or a job. You don’t have to know everything about it, of course, but you do not want to have to spend a good deal of time learning the basics of the subject. Naturally, you can do secondary and primary research. Remember, you can find a lot of current information on the Web. If you use secondary sources to get information on the procedure or illustrations, document with a “Works Cited” list.
3. Focus on safety. Your first responsibility is to make sure your readers use the instructions safely. Doing so is not only an ethical obligation; it is also a legal obligation. The courts are scrutinizing instructions and awarding plaintiffs enormous sums of money if they can prove that the instructions are unclear or fail to warn the reader of hazards in assembling, using, or maintaining machines or other equipment. Our assignment excludes writing instructions on dangerous topics, but practically any task may involve some danger or hazard, so warn the user about it.
4. Choose a topic for which you can find or create effective graphics. The best place to find existing graphics is, of course, the Web, for you can download them easily. (Place the cursor over the graphic, then right-click and save the graphic to your computer.) You can also find graphics for your topic in books and magazines. Remember that if you did not create the graphic, you must cite it. Remember that you must cite a source even if you have modified the original graphic substantially. Of course, you may also create your own graphics. Regardless of whether you find or create a graphic, please include it digitally; that is, download the file and include it in your document or scan the existing image and include the scanned image.
5. Study the chapter on the document and page design. Before you begin assembling your instructions, study Chapters 14 and 15 on graphics and design. You want to submit instructions that are clear, easy to follow, and professional in appearance. One easy way to format most instructions is to use the table feature. Create a two-column table. Put the text in the left column; the graphic, in the right column. Make a new row for each step (or set of steps). Then, hide the grid lines.
6. Don’t list “system responses” as steps. A step is an action the reader is supposed to perform. System response is a response made by the system to a step the reader has performed. For instance, a step is to press the Enter key. The system response is that a particular dialog box appears on the screen. To describe the system response, list it as a comment after the step, or show it in a graphic.
7. Check to see that your instructions are complete. Follow the guidelines in the text to make sure you have the three sections the reader will be looking for-the introduction, step-by-step instructions, and conclusion-and that each section fulfills its purpose in the instructions.
8. Do some informal usability testing. As discussed in Chapter 20, usability testing is the process of studying a person using the instructions to find out if they are easy to understand. Although you won’t have time to do formal usability testing with numerous people trying out your instructions, you can have one or two people try to carry out the process, talking to you as they go along about what they find easy or difficult to understand.
9. Important note: Some students are strongly tempted, in doing this assignment, to plagiarize instructions from the internet. Don’t do it! I’ll be checking your instructions against Google searches to make sure that you yourself have written them.
Look at the files, These are examples!