Technical writing
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Technical writing. October 25 , 2013. With a partner. Write simple “step-by-step” instructions for sending a Kakao Talk message with a phone. 1. Open the “menu” by pressing the “menu” icon. 2. In the menu press the Play Store icon.

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Technical writing

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Technical writing

Technical writing

October 25 , 2013

With a partner

With a partner

  • Write simple “step-by-step” instructions for sending a Kakao Talk message with a phone.

Technical writing

1. Open the “menu” by pressing the “menu” icon.

2. In the menu press the Play Store icon.

3. Press the “search” icon located at the top right side.

4. Type ‘Kakao Talk’ and press search.

5. Select the first yellow icon called ‘Kakao Talk’.

6. Press the “install” button to install.

7. Press accept on the pop-up menu.

8. Wait for the program to install.

9. Open the menu again.

10. Find the Kakao Talk icon by scrolling through the menu.

11. Press the Kakao Talk icon to open the application.

Technical writing

  • That is a fairly simple process, right?

  • For more complicated processes, more detailed instructions are required.

In a group of 3 o r4

In a group of 3 o r4

Write instructions for:

How to set up a new desktop computer in an office.

(Hardware only, not software).

Write instructions for

Write instructions for

How to set up a new desktop computer in an office.

(Hardware only, not software).

FIRST, Think about the format for these more complicated instructions:

- What sections would be required? (More than just steps).

- What contents would you expect in this kind of document?

Brainstorm this BEFORE writing the instructions.



  • Instructions and Procedures

Instructions and procedures

Instructions and Procedures


explain how to perform a task in a step-by-step manner. They vary in length, complexity, and format.

i.e., How to install a printer for a computer.

Procedures(or policies)

describe a set of established rules of conduct to be followed within an organization.

i.e., Workplace dress code, employee vacation guidelines



Clear and accurate instructions are essential in the work world.

Indicate how to:

- Do something (change the oil in a car, set-up a network).

- Operate a machine (copy machine, coffee machine).

- Install, maintain, adjust, or repair a piece of equipment (scanner).



Everyone from consumer to specialist uses and relies on carefully written instructions.

Think of when YOU use instructions as students.

Why instructions are important

Why Instructions are Important

Three reasons:

1. Safety

  • Carefully written instructions insure that a job gets done without damage or injury.

  • To make sure your instructions are safe, they must be:

    - Accurate. - Carefully organized. - Thorough. - Clearly written.

Why instructions are important1

Why Instructions are Important

Three reasons:

2. Efficiency

- Well-written instructions help a business run smoothly and efficiently.

- Poorly written instructions…

Photo credit:

Why instructions are important2

Why Instructions are Important

Three reasons:

3. Convenience

Clear, easy-to-follow instructions make everyone’s job easier and less frustrating.

Instruction format

Instruction Format

  • Instructions come in a variety of formats.

  • Often use numbered lists.

  • Can use visuals:

  • - For certain steps.

  • - For the whole process.

  • Sometimes written in paragraphs.

Technical writing

Instructions with a visual for each step.

Easy-to-use numbered steps.

Visuals to help readers follow directions.

Each step begins with strong, active verb.

Provides helpful tips.

Explains why a step is important.

Numbered list describing the sequence

Numbered list describing the sequence

Numbered list diagram

Numbered list + diagram

Process for writing instructions

Process for Writing Instructions

1. Plan your steps.

Before writing, do some research to understand completely the task you are asking someone else to perform.

Make sure you know:

  • The reason for doing something.

  • The parts or tools required.

  • The steps to follow.

  • The results.

  • The potential risks or dangers.

Process for writing instructions1

Process for Writing Instructions

2. Perform a trial run.

Actually perform the task yourself.

  • Take notes as you do it.

  • Make sure to divide the process into simple, distinct steps.

  • Each step should be:

  • Complete

  • Sequential (in the correct order)

  • Reliable.

  • Easy-to-understand.

Process for writing instructions2

Process for Writing Instructions

3. Write and test your draft.

Transform your notes into a draft and then conduct a usability test.

Usability test:

- Ask someone from your intended audience to follow the instructions.

(Try to find someone who has never performed the task before).

Process for writing instructions3

Process for Writing Instructions

4. Revise and edit.

Based on your observations, revise your draft and edit the final copy.

  • Consider if visuals would make the instructions clearer.

  • Analyze the needs of the intended audience.

Process for writing instructions4

Process for Writing Instructions

4. Revise and edit.

  • Analyze the needs of the intended audience.

    i.e., Instructions for a chemistry set would use different terms, abbreviations, and level of detail than a chemistry professor would give to chemistry students.

The five parts of instructions

The Five Parts of Instructions

  • Introduction. The introduction provides necessary background information.

  • List of equipment and materials. When a list is required, be sure to make it complete and clear.

  • Steps. The heart of your instructions consists of clearly distinguished steps that readers must follow.

  • Warnings, cautions, and notes. Warnings tell readers that one step, if not prepared or performed properly, can endanger their safety. Cautions tell readers how to avoid mistakes or to take certain precautions. Notes provide useful side information.

  • Conclusion. When a conclusion is required, offer a brief wrap-up and congratulate the reader.



  • The introduction to a set of instructions should:

  • State why the instructions are useful for a specific audience.

  • Indicate how a particular piece of equipment, procedure, or process works.

  • Point out any safety measures or precautions a reader may need to be aware of.

  • Stress any advantages or benefits the reader will gain by performing the instructions.

List of equipment and materials

List of equipment and materials

  • This list should be provided when readers need to know in advance that they will need special tools to perform the task.



  • To make sure your readers understand the steps, observe the following rules:

  • Put the steps in their correct order and number them.

  • Include only the right amount of information in each step.

  • Group closely related activities into one step.

  • Give the reader hints on how best to accomplish the procedure.

  • State whether one step directly influences (or jeopardizes) the outcome of another.

  • Where necessary, insert graphics to assist readers in carrying out the step.

2 include only the right amount of info

2. Include only the right amount of info

3 group closely related activities into one step

3. Group closely related activities into one step.

Instructions style

Instructions Style

  • Choose verbs in the present tense and imperative mood.

  • Write clear, short sentences in the active voice.

  • Use precise terms for measurements, distances, and times.

Common instructional verbs

Common instructional verbs

Instructions style1

Instructions Style

4. Include connective words as signposts.

- i.e., First, then, before

5. Number each step when you present your instructions in a list.

Next class

Next Class


Practice Homework:

Bring a rough draft of your instructions (setting up a desktop computer in an office) to next class.

- one copy for each group.

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