Descriptions

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  • 1. Writing Descriptions
  • 2.
  • 3. Key Terms
  • 4. Two Uses of Definitions
    • Definitions clarify a description of a new development or a new technology in a technical field. For instance, a zoologist who has discovered a new animal species names and defines it.
    • 5. Definitions help specialists communicate with less knowledgeable readers. A manual explaining how to tune up a car includes definitions of parts and tools.
  • Technical Communication is Global
    Strategies for Defining Terms for Readers from Another Culture
    Add a glossary: a list of definitions.
    Use Simplified English and easily recognizable terms in definitions.
    Pay close attention to key terms.
    Use visuals to help readers understand a term or concept.
  • 6. Types of Definitions
  • Parenthetical definitions
  • 9. Standard Pattern for Sentence Definitions
    Item = Category + Distinguishing Characteristics
  • 10. Guidelines for Writing Effective Sentence Definitions
    • Be specific in stating the category and the distinguishing characteristics.
    • 11. Avoid writing circular definitions: definitions that merely repeat the key words or the distinguishing characteristics of the item being defined in the category.
    • 12. Be sure the category contains a noun or a noun phrase rather than a phrase beginning with when, what, or where.
  • 13. Techniques Used in Extended Definitions
  • Example of Partitioning
  • 18. Principle of Operation
    Describing the principle of operation—the way something works—is an effective way to develop an extended definition, especially for an object or a process.
  • 19. The system maintains the host vehicle’s following interval by adjusting its speed. If the target vehicle speeds up, increasing the following interval between the two vehicles, the system informs the engine control module to accelerate and increase the vehicle’s speed until either the set following interval or the cruise control preset speed are reached. However, if the gap between the target and the host vehicles is decreasing, the system informs the engine control module to reduce the vehicle’s speed. The engine control module then issues a command to dethrottle the engine (e.g., by reducing fuel), apply the engine brake, and, when available, downshift the automated transmission.
  • 20. Comparison and Contrast
    Using comparison and contrast, a writer discusses the similarities or differences between the item being defined and an item with which readers are more familiar.
  • 21. Voice over Internet Protocol is a form of phone service that lets you connect to the Internet through your cable or DSL modem. VoIP service uses a device called a telephony adapter, which attaches to the broadband modem, transforming phone pulses into IP packets sent over the Internet.
  • 22. Analogy an analogy is a specialized kind of comparison. In a traditional comparison, the writer compares one item to another, similar item: an electron microscope to a common microscope, for example.
  • 23. Negation
    Negation a special kind of contrast is sometimes called negation or negative statement.
    An ambulatory patient is not a patient who must be moved by ambulance. On the contrary, an ambulatory patient is one who can walk without assistance from another person.
  • 24. EtymologyEtymology, the derivation of a word, is often a useful and interesting way to develop a definition. The following example uses the etymology of spam—unsolicited junk e-mail—to define it.
  • 25. For many decades, Hormel Foods has manufactured a luncheon meat called Spam, which stands for “Shoulder Pork and hAM”/“SPicedhAM.” Then, in the 1970s, the English comedy team Monty Python’s Flying Circus broadcast a skit about a restaurant that served Spam with every dish. In describing each dish, the waitress repeats the word Spam over and over, and several Vikings standing in the corner chant the word repeatedly. In the mid-1990s, two businessmen hired a programmer to write a program that would send unsolicited ads to thousands of electronic newsgroups. Just as Monty Python’s chanting Vikings drowned out other conversation in the restaurant, the ads began drowning out regular communication online. As a result, people started calling unsolicited junk e-mail spam.
  • 26. Descriptions
    Verbal and visual representations of
    objects
    mechanisms
    processes
  • 27. Objects. an object is anything ranging from a physical site such as a volcano to a synthetic artifact such as a hammer. A tomato plant is an object, as is an automobile tire or a book.
  • 28. Mechanisms. a mechanism is a synthetic object consisting of a number of identifiable parts that work together. A DVD player is a mechanism, as is a voltmeter, a lawn mower, or a submarine.
  • 29. Processes. a process is an activity that takes place over time: species evolve; steel is made; plants perform photosynthesis. Descriptions of processes, which explain how something happens, differ from instructions, which explain how to do something. Readers of a process description want to understand the process; readers of instructions want a step-by-step guide to help them perform it.
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  • 36. Principles for Writing Descriptions
    • Clearly indicate the nature and scope of the description.
    • 37. Introduce the description clearly.
    • 38. Provide appropriate detail.
    • 39. Conclude the description.
  • Nature and Scope
    This can be clearly identified in your title:
    “Description of a Minivan”
    “A Description of the Montreal Health Care System”
  • 40. Introduce the Description Clearly
    Many descriptions begin with a one-sentence definition, answering the question, “What is the item or process?”
  • 41. Questions to Answer in Introducing Object or Mechanism Descriptions
    • What is the item?
    • 42. What is the function of the item?
    • 43. What does the item look like?
    • 44. How does the item work?
    • 45. What are the principal parts of the item?
  • Questions to Answer in Introducing Process Descriptions
    • What is the process?
    • 46. What is the function of the process?
    • 47. Where and when does the process take place?
    • 48. Who or what performs the process?
    • 49. How does the process work?
    • 50. What are the principal steps of the process?
  • Providing Appropriate Detail in Mechanism and Object Descriptions
    • Choose an appropriate organizing principle:
    • 51. functional
    • 52. spatial
    • 53. Use graphics.
  • Functional or Spatial
  • 54. Functional or Spatial?
  • 55. Functional or Spatial?
  • 56. Functional or Spatial?
  • 57. Providing Appropriate Detail in Process Descriptions
    • Structure the step-by-step description chronologically.
    • 58. Explain causal relationships among steps.
    • 59. Use the present tense.
    • 60. Use graphics for each part or step.
  • Write a conclusion!
    A typical description has a brief conclusion that summarizes it and prevents readers from overemphasizing the part or step discussed last.
    It should be brief.
  • 61. Go to Funnelinc.com
    Find a description to present to the class.
    Explain how the chart works or fails to works.
  • 62. Complete the Planning Worksheet