Writers in the workplace frequently have to describe things–objects, mechanisms, and spaces. Descriptions of things have several purposes: to enable readers to understand how something works, how it is made or what materials it contains, or to understand how to put something together, take it apart, repair it, etc. Choosing a subject Choose an object, mechanical device, or space with at least four distinct parts. The thing you describe can be any manufactured product, preferably one that you use often at home or at work or school. As an alternative, you may describe something natural rather than artificial.
Purpose and readers The purpose of your description is to enable your reader to understand how something was put together, how it operates, how each part functions, and perhaps the materials it contains. Your readers will be your classmates and me, intelligent and educated readers who probably aren’t well versed technically in your subject. Thus, you may have to include brief definitions, just as you provided brief descriptions in your definitions. Drafting your description In your introduction, indicate the significance of your description. Explain why readers should read the piece in the first place.
For example, your readers may already know how to operate a mountain bike, but they may not know how the brakes actually work, which may be useful to them someday. Organizing such a description, then, would be guided by the reader’s possible need to understand how the brakes work. On the other hand, a description of a drill with a keyless chuck or a coffee maker with a built-in grinder would help readers distinguish those drills and coffee makers from their “ordinary” counterparts. Focus on purpose! Apply to this assignment the principles of reader-centered writing and document design that we have studies.
Points to remember As you write and revise, * explain clearly the significance of your description * include ample detail so your reader truly understands your topic * write with active verbs in clear, concise sentences and paragraphs * explain terms as they appear so non-technical readers can follow your text easily * punctuate correctly As always, work diligently to choose the most specific, precise word to stated exactly what you mean. Submitting the assignment Include a cover memo, a sample of your model text, your paper, and a double-spaced copy. See Assignment 2 for details.