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Comm.

1009: Week 5

Process
Descriptions

Description commonalities
Technical description are defined here as everything from

expanded definitions to full-fledged multi-page descriptions


of an item, concept, or phenomenon.
Process descriptions here include analyses, narratives, and
instructions related to sequences, cycles, or activities.
Effective descriptions of either category have many common
characteristics.

Effective Descriptions

State a clear, limiting title.


Provide and identify an objective view, a clearly identified physical
point of view.
Develop a clear organizational pattern:
1. The description is logically divided into discrete parts.
2. The parts are presented in a spatial, functional, or chronological
sequence.
3. The pattern is identified at the beginning.
4. Sub-topics are identified by headings

Effective Descriptions
Describe the function of each part or phase.
Provide descriptive detail appropriate for the reader.
Use frequent, well-placed visuals.
Feature precise, accurate diction and concise phrasing.
Employ straightforward sentences and paragraphs.

Three Types of Process Description


1. Process Analysis

(How something works or happens)


2. Process Narrative
(How something was done)
3. Process Instructions
(How to do or make something)

Process Analysis
An explanation of the process, analyzing it based on

principles of action.
Every step is analyzed, based on the principles
involved (e.g. why and how a step occurs)
Third person, indicative mood, active voice.
Passive voice may be used to emphasize the process
itself.

Process Narrative
Describes how a process was accomplished.
First or third person, indicative mood, past tense,

active voice (operator), passive voice (system or


mechanism).

Process Instructions
Steps for accomplishing a process.
Second person, present tense, active voice.

What is a Process Analysis?


A process analysis explains sequential
events to readers who:
Need enough details to understand an

action or process

o How something is done


o How something works
o How something happens

but not necessarily instructions on


how to complete it.
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Guidelines for Writing Process


Descriptions
Consider your purpose:
Who is reading the process description and

why?

What are the circumstances under which they

need such an explanation?

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Guidelines for Writing Process


Descriptions
Choose a principle for segmenting suited to
your readers and your purpose
For understanding Organize around concerns of

interest or use to readers.

For deciding Make the options clear.


For performance Support an efficient comfortable

rhythm of work.

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Guidelines for Writing Process


Descriptions
Use a principle of segmenting to group the process
steps
Chronological by sequence of steps
Purposive by purpose of the steps (e.g., preparation,

performance, analyzing results)

Tools used by tools used (e.g. keyboard function keys,

numeric keypad, mouse).

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Guidelines for Writing Process


Descriptions
Use graphics appropriately
Graphics supporting text?

or:
Text supporting graphics?
For international publication, emphasize

graphics.

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Use format elements appropriately


Bulleted lists for items without a specific

order or number.

Numbered lists for:

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Order by priority or importance

Listing a specific number of or for items

Guidelines for Writing Process


Descriptions
Use appropriate diction
Voice:
Active voice when what the operator does is

important.

Passive voice when an operator does not exist or

is unimportant.

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Guidelines for Writing Process


Descriptions
Be precise, so that information is verifiable
Use specific and accurate terms.
Consider the value (and pitfalls) of metaphor.

On the fruit sorting line, the processor is the brain


of the machine, the infrared sensors are the eyes,
and the automatic sorters are the hands.

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Guidelines for Writing Process


Descriptions
Organize in a chronological sequence
Processes are chronological:
by order of performance, or
by order of occurrence.

e.g. Flows from A to B to C

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Guidelines for Writing Process


Descriptions
Format consistently and informatively:
Headings and sub-headings should show hierarchy
Use informative headings to distinguish major

phases

Use a consistent format throughout

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Format for Process Descriptions


Title

short, clear and informative

Introduction

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Identify product or mechanism can use an


operational definition.

Describe relevance, context, and/or importance of


this process.

Format for Process Descriptions


Introduction

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Summarize principles of operation:

Describe the principle.

Describe how the mechanism works due to


that principle.

Format for Process


Descriptions
Introduction

Summarize major sequences of operation:


Sequence: two or more related events

occurring in predetermined order.

Clarifying and descriptive details.

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Format for Process Descriptions


Introduction (optionally):

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Identify intended audience

Give additional explanatory background


information.

Identify relevant parts and materials.

Provide visual overview.

Format for Process Descriptions


Body
Step-by-step explanation of the process, in

chronological order.

For each phase:


Provide a subheading
Define the phase
Identify its goal
Optionally, list parts/materials and give an

illustration.

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Format for Process Descriptions


Body
For each phase:
Present chronological details and analysis.
Explain theory of operation, if not already

done.

Explain how this phase relates to the next

phase.

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Format for Process Descriptions


Conclusion

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Summarize major phases of long/complex


process.

Discuss theory of operation if not already done.

Discuss how phases interrelate to bring about


desired result.

Explain applications if not obvious.

Format for Process Descriptions


Use illustrations as much as possible to:
Facilitate understanding
Reduce text.

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How a Toilet Flushes


We all know what happens when we flush, but do we know how it
happens? The following steps take us through the flush cycle.
1. Pushing on the handle pulls the chain, which releases the
flush valve.
2. About 2 gallons (7.6 L) of water rush from the tank into
the bowl in about three seconds. The flush valve then
reseats.
3. This rush of water activates the siphon in the bowl. The
siphon sucks everything in the bowl down the drain.
4. Meanwhile, when the level of the water in the tank falls, so
does the float. The falling float turns on the refill valve.
5. Water flowing through the refill valve fills the tank as well
as the bowl. As the tank water rises, the float rises, and
when it reaches a certain level the refill valve shuts off.
NOTE: Should something go wrong and cause the refill valve
to keep running, the overflow tube prevents a flood.
6. Once the tank and bowl are refilled, the cycle can repeat.

a)

b)

c)

d)
e)

Informative title
Logically ordered
steps/stages/phases
Appropriate level of
technicality
Visual aids
Forecasting

f)

Chronological markers

g)

Appropriate terminology
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Exam details
Mid-term a timed event beginning next

Wednesday at 6pm and available until midnight


The mid-term will appear on D2L and will be a
timed, 2-hour exam
Know definitions; components and types
Know key elements of and distinctions between
technical (static) and process descriptions
(phased/chronological and analysis vs narrative)

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