UMUC | WRTG 393 Guidelines for Technical Description for a Non-Specialized Audience For this assignment, you will explain to an unfamiliar audience (an audience with no technical experience) how something works. You will choose an object or a process with which you are very familiar, and will describe to a specified non-technical audience how a mechanism works, or how a phenomenon happens. NOTE: You are not writing instructions on how to do something! You are not giving directions! or describing a process that requires direct human action. • Your description will include visuals (photos, schematics, charts, graphs, line drawings). The number of visuals should be appropriate to your topic and target audience. • The description will use vivid and/or sensory detail in both words and images. • Your description should be single-spaced. Examples include the following: • . You could describe how the game operates to an audience of non-gamers. You would not write a set of instructions on how to play the game. You would describe the history and background, symbolism of game pieces, etc. • You are in a branch of the military. You could write a description of how a function of your unit operates for a non-military audience. You would not write a set of instructions on how to perform in a military capacity. You would describe a military function, such as TDY. • You work for a travel agency. You could write a description of a particular process in searching for an international flight for a prospective traveler. You would not write a set of instructions for planning a trip. You would describe how agents’ tools help them plan trips. • You are an auto mechanic. You could write a description of how spark plugs work in a four-cylinder engine for an audience of non-mechanics. You would not write a set of instructions on how to install spark plugs. You would describe how spark plugs operate. • You work in technical support at a computer store. You could write a description of how a graphics card works to an audience that is not familiar with computers. You would not write a set of instructions on how to install a graphics card. You would describe the functionality. TIP: Instructions are typically given in the second-person-implied voice: (You) Drive two miles, and turn left. Descriptions, on the other hand, are typically written in the third-person voice: Novice drivers often strip the gears when accelerating, because they keep one foot on the gas while they’re shifting. Another way Descriptions can be written in the third-person voice is to provide objective information: The L-train takes riders to three stops along the I-95 corridor. It first stops at Old Town Alexandria. Then… VIP: This is not a research assignment, and should consist of your own original work. All borrowed information—and all images—should be cited in APA documentation style. Your description should answer the following questions: • What is the object or process? How is it defined? • What does the object or process do? • What does the object or process look like? • What is the object made of? (if you are describing an object, and not a process) • How does the object or process work? • Why should the reader be interested in your object or process? Your descriptions should explain the following: • Why the object or process is significant for the audience • How each of the functions of the object or process work • Appropriate details NOTE: Your description should follow one of these styles of organization: Spatial § This style might be used to describe an object or process according to its physical layout. For example, in describing a flat screen television set, you might start with the screen, and work your way to the command keys on the back. Functions in Order of Importance, Hierarchy, or Rank § This style would be used to highlight the most important functions first, the next most important functions second, etc., or to indicate the chain of command in an organization, etc. For example, in describing a flat screen television set, you might start with the most important element, the pixels that make up the picture, and then proceed to describe other functions. Chronological § This style would be used to describe the object or process according to time or sequence. For example, in describing a flat screen television set, you might start with what happens first (the user turns the television on), second (the pixels respond), etc. Helpful Resources • David McMurrey’s Technical Description: What does it look like? • Scribd description of a computer mouse • Overall, Chapter 20,“Writing Descriptions,” from Markel, should be read thoroughly as you begin this assignment. Different types of descriptions call for different strategies. The chapter from Markel is an excellent resource in guiding your approach. The chapter is available in eReserves under Content in your LEO classroom. Length: 500-800 words Draft Due for Revision Notes in Assignments:

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