Project 3: Instructions
ENGL2338: Technical Writing
Department of English
University of Texas at Arlington
For this assignment, you should focus on creating clearly written, well designed, and
effectively illustrated instructions.
Choose a Technical or Scientific Topic. Begin by reviewing Gurak & Lannon, Chapter
13: Instructions and Procedures. You will choose your own topic for this assignment. In
order to give you the practice in technical writing, your must choose a technical or
scientific topic. Ideally, a topic requiring a series of steps for assembly or various specific
tasks to complete is best. Consider your hobbies and interests or various topics you know
Choose a topic involving 10 or more steps. The following are just a few examples of
instructions projects from previous classes:
• Setting Up a Small Network in Your Home or Office
• Building and Hosting Your Own Web site
• Detailing Your Car
• Creating a Backyard Butterfly Garden
• Designing and Installing a Solar Heating System in Your Home
• Helping Parents Apply First Aid
• Assembling a Skateboard
• Grooming a Horse
• How to Change an Electrical Outlet
• How to Bid an Acoustical Ceiling Project
• How to Sew an A-Line Skirt
Write to a Specific Audience. You must specify an audience for your instructions. In
most instances, your audience should be a novice audience—someone who has never
performed the task before. Sample audiences for the instructions mentioned above
include home computer owners, gardeners, small business owners, and parents.
Acknowledge all Sources. If you use any sources for your instructions, acknowledge
your sources on an APA references page and include this page with your instructions (see
Gurak & Lannon, Appendix A: Documentation Sources). If you use or adapt illustrations
from another source, place the source directly below each illustration.
Required Sections for the Instructions
Regardless of your task, you must include all of the following contents.
• Introduction. Here you’ll provide your reader with the following information:
o The audience in terms of its knowledge and need for the instructions.
o What the instructions will allow readers to do.
o What skill level the audience should have to perform the task successfully.
o An overview of the steps needed to complete the task.
o A sense of how long the task will take.
o Where they should perform the task (i.e. in a well ventilated area, outside,
on a flat surface, etc.).
• List of Materials, Tools, or Ingredients
• Illustrations (Diagrams, Drawings, Photographs, Figures, or Tables).
o Include captions for each illustration or figure.
o Label charts and diagrams clearly.
o If you used illustrations from other sources, place the source directly
below each illustration. The sources of your illustrations must be fully
documented in APA style on the Reference page.
• List of Steps, in chronological order.
o Make sure your instructions have 10 or more steps.
o Make sure you use the imperative mood. (That is, say this: “Attach the red
wire” rather than this: “The red wire is attached.” With the second phrase,
readers will not know whether the wire is already attached or if they need
to attach it.)
o Each step must be a specific action, (“Turn the knob one complete turn.”)
and not an elaboration or comment (“Turning the knob will result in a
o Each step may only be one or two sentences.
o Use second person (you) in instructions.
o Include warnings or cautions before readers will encounter problems.
o Make sure steps are phrased in parallel form.
Warning Against Copying Instructions!
You should write the instructions yourself. DO NOT simply copy instructions you
found elsewhere (on a how-to Website, in your textbook) and cite the source. That is not
the idea of this assignment. The idea is that you will write your own instructions telling
your audience how to complete a task with which you are familiar, so familiar, in fact,
that writing a set of instructions for it should be pretty easy. That isn’t to say you are not
allowed to consult secondary sources; if you need to, you may. But do make sure that you
are writing the instructions yourself.
If you transcribe (copy) instructions you found elsewhere, you cannot get a 70 or
above on this assignment, even if you cite the sources.
And, if needed, your instructions should also contain:
• Glossary of terms
Document Design and Illustrations
Give careful thought to illustrations and design elements that will make your instructions
• Make sure all of your steps are numbered throughout.
• Single-space the text in the paragraphs.
• You must include at least two illustrations in your instructions. You may create
your own, or adapt illustrations from other sources. Make sure you provide source
information for all illustrations immediately below each illustration. (For example,
for any photos you took: “Source: photo by author.” For any illustrations from
other sources: “Source: Website (or other resource).”
• Use as many of the four basic design principles as possible (Contrast, Repetition,
• Design your document for consistency (grid patterns, margins, justification, white
space, indentation, font style and size). See pages 136-140.
• Design your document for navigation and emphasis (headings, color, shading,
boldface, italic, and underlining, bulleted and numbered lists). See pages 140-145.
• Follow the tips for illustrating documents presented in Chapters 7.
Note: You must use a two-column format or some other format rather than just a
full-page format on each page for the text, illustrations, and design elements.
• Submit the instructions in ONE WORD FILE and submit via Unicheck. No
assignments will be accepted over email.
• Required title for the Word file: your last name-instructions. For example, my file
name should be: Pearman-instructions.docx.
• See Course Calendar for important due dates.
• Completeness (10 pts): The instructions include all of the sections required.
• Introduction (10 pts): The introduction identifies the document’s audience in
terms of its knowledge and need for the instructions. It tells what the instructions
will allow readers to do and provides an overview of the steps. It gives the
audience a sense of how long the task will take, where it should be performed,
and provides cautions or warnings when need.
• Text of the Steps (20 pts): The instructions have 10 or more steps. The steps use
imperative mood. Each step is a specific action.
• Design (20 pts): The document has a clear hierarchy of headings. The steps are
numbered throughout. There is an appropriate amount of white space. It makes
effective use of the four basic design principles (contrast, alignment, proximity,
repetition). Design features, such as fonts, font sizes, and forms of emphasis are
applied consistently. The overall design is clear and consistent.
• Illustrations (10 pts): There are at least two illustrations. The illustrations are
effective, each serving a functional purpose (meaning, it helps the reader better
comprehend the task at hand). It is not merely used for decorative purpose. The
illustrations are appropriately documented, displayed, and labeled.
• Style (20 pts): The instructions are written as active voice commands. Headings
and numbered/bulleted items are in parallel form. The second person (you) is
• Mechanics (10 pts): Spelling, APA documentation, grammar, and punctuation