CH 7 Assignment: Technical Descriptions

A technical description is a part-by-part explanation of an item. Technical descriptions provide users information about a product’s features and capabilities and explain how that product works. Technical communication relies heavily on descriptions for a variety of documents, such as manuals, procedures, reports, and white papers.

For this assignment, your task is to write a technical description of an item, including what it is, what it does, and how it works.

Step 1: Choose an item that performs a task. Choose something that provides a challenge but is also manageable. Some examples include: a flash drive, a lawn mower engine, an air-impact wrench, an app or operating system (Android, iOS, Windows), a musical instrument, or any other item(s) you can think of that does something.

*NOTE: Be sure to be objective in your description; in other words, keep your opinions about the item to yourself.

Step 2:  Research the item. Find out what the parts are called and what task(s) the item performs. Note the terminology used, and make use of this terminology in your description (be sure to cite your sources when necessary).

Step 3: Define your audience. Are you writing to the general public or to a specific audience? What does your audience know already? What do they need to know? Why should they care?

Step 4:  Write a description of the item (350-500 words). Successful descriptions will include:

      • A clear technical definition (written in your own words), which is a one to three-sentence definition of what the item is: The Call-o-Matic 6000 is a…;
      • A discussion of the item’s purpose and importance (or context);
      • An overview of the item’s appearance (size, weight, color, etc.), including its major components;
      • A logically-organized description—organized either spatially (moving from top to bottom or front to back, for example) or by function (looking at the item’s different components or features or looking at what the item does overall);
      • A clear understanding of the relationship of each of the components to the others (if applicable);
      • A clear sense of the intended audience; and
      • Clear and concise writing throughout.

*NOTE: No visual aids should be used for this assignment.


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