In this blog we will concentrate on the writing of step-by-step instructions which may also be known as Process Analysis

  • It would help to have your student write about something he or she already knows: how to use a cell phone, repair a tire on a bicycle, download a song.
  • You might use an existing instruction sheet for a new product to serve as a model.
  • It never hurts to admit you need help to perform the task he or she seems to do so well.

Let’s start with the characteristics of this type of descriptive writing:

  • Process analysis is objective, impersonal and terse: no ‘you’ or ‘your’, no author’s feelings or side comments, no engagement with the reader. Just the facts ma’am.
  • It requires an assessment of the level of the intended audience’s knowledge about the subject….how much has to be explained for the reader to get up to speed?
  • If special tools, terms or concepts are important to the accomplishment of a given task, list them up front (as in a recipe).
  • If some of the intended audience could already know some steps in the process, offer the option to skip the parts those parts.
  • Use numbers or bullets, not paragraph style writing, to explain each step.
  • If a step is to be repeated, ask the reader to repeat the appropriate numbered steps.
  • Use NOTES to explain background information or concepts that are not technically part of the process.

Here’s a sample:

Starting a Lawn Mower

Starting a two cycle, manual start, rotary lawn mower involves gathering the equipment, checking and topping off the fluids, starting the machine.

 A. Gather the following:

            1. The lawn mower

            2. A container of unleaded, 89 octane gasoline.

Note: For safety sake, use only approved red containers.

            3. A funnel

            4. 30 w oil

B. Checking and topping off fluid

            1. Remove the gas cap on the mower

            2. Check the amount of gas in the tank.

                 a. If more gas is needed:

                       Place funnel in mouth of tank

                       Open gas can

                       Pour gas into funnel until tank is almost full.

Note: do not overfill as this may cause fire hazard upon starting

                  b. If tank is full:

                        replace cap

            3. Pull dipstick from oil reservoir

                   a. Wipe dipstick

                   b. Push back in and remove quickly

            4. Check to see if oil is in ‘safe’ zone

            a. If the oil is in ‘safe’ zone:

                  replace dipstick

            b. If more oil is needed:

                 pour oil into oil spout

Repeat steps 3a and 3b to ensure oil level is correct

Note: Use funnel if needed. Do not overfill as this will harm engine.

 C. Starting the machine

            1. push the priming button 3 times

            2. hold down the dead-kill handle

            3. pull the starter cord

Note: If the engine does not turn over, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3

 The three steps for starting a two cycle, manual start, rotary lawn mower involve gathering the equipment, checking and topping off the fluids, starting the machine.