Creating Technical Descriptions

| June 7, 2016

Creating Technical Descriptions First, read chapter 15, “Creating Technical Descriptions.” For this assignment, you will practice writing technical descriptions. As usual, the topic is of your choosing, although I recommend something related to your field. Page 575 has a list of possible description topics if you need to spark your creativity. Avoid describing a process​, as we will be covering that later in the instructions and manuals section. Give a brief description of the situation and audience​for your description. Explain the context which requires you to write the description and give an analysis of the audience. You should be familiar with this exercise by now, but if you need a refresher you might want to review the first assignment. Page 562 offers ideas for how to think about and discuss an audience. Don’t forget to explain how your understanding of the audience influenced your technical description and what decisions you made to tailor your communication. With this audience in mind, create a technical description of an object, system, or other technical concept​. I would recommend paying close attention to pages 562-571. In this section you will find very specific explanations of how to write a description. Include information such as construction materials, components, color, shape, measurements, and other technical specifications as relevant to the item. This is a description, not a book, so be a specific and concrete as possible while keeping your text concise. Be careful of pronouns and vague phrases! “It” is not your friend. Include visuals if they help, but don’t rely on graphics to avoid quality writing. The goal is to communicate the most information in the most efficient way possible. It is up to you to determine whether that should include visuals. Of course, if you are describing a physical object, visuals are an easy way to communicate specs or functions in an information-dense manner. Flowcharts or other graphs are a helpful way to describe systems, if you choose a more challenging topic. If you haven’t written a description before, be aware that a physical object is much easier to describe thoroughly than an intangible item, such as an operating system. Remember, you are describing the item itself, not providing instructions for use or selling its benefits and functions. Don’t write a marketing piece or a sales document. Stay focused on the describing the object, not the functions or the potential user. If you need some ideas, refer to page 550 for some helpful leading questions. There are excellent examples throughout the chapter as well. As ever, you are welcome to ask questions if anything is unclear.

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