"How is this done? How can I do this?" – These questions guide authors as they describe processes. Learn how to write instructions and processes so that readers know how to do something or understand how something is done. By viewing sample process texts, note the focus on the objective voice, numbered steps, visual rhetoric, and clever animations or video. Write a descriptive or prescriptive process report.
There are three types of process texts:
Process texts are extremely common in school and professions. In school, teachers frequently assign process assignments. For example, humanities professors may ask for a description of how an artistic or literary period evolved; history professors, the contributions of a culture's leaders over time; social science professors, the chronology of inventions; engineering professors, explanations of how sound is changed into electrical signals; business professors, how the Federal Reserve works or how to sell a product.
On a daily basis, we read descriptive processes. Intelligent people are inquisitive; they want to understand how things work. Last year, for example, over three million readers a month accessed How Stuff Works, a Web site containing thousands of process
essays. We routinely read processes, including recipes, user manuals for new software, or advice columns on how to lose weight or how to succeed in school or a profession. People are always wondering about things, wondering how computers work, how
grass grows, how heart disease occurs, how far the human eye can see, and so on.
Instructions: Use the sections below, as directed by your instructor, to learn about writing processes. Read sample process reports and write your own process-driven project.
Writers of process texts are practicing what specialists call "expository writing" or "explanatory writing". These texts focus on answering one of the following questions: "How is this done? How can I do this?".
Most prescriptive and descriptive processes are written to explain how something works. Most processes are written in chronological order and most rely extensively on visuals. To promote clarity, writers often number particular steps in a process. When the topic is learning a software program, writers use screenshots and call-outs and screen movies to walk a user through the tutorial.
Nonetheless, other purposes and organizational schemes are available. Writers may speculate about whether a process exists; they may argue a process exists with the intention of selling the reader something.
While the topics of process reports may be diverse, the rhetorical stance of most process reports tends to be more uniform than the rhetorical stance of other projects, as illustrated below.
Analyze the Web sites annotated below. Consider the context, audience, purpose, and media invoked by the following readings. Also examine how ideas are developed in these texts. Are assertions grounded in personal experience, interviews with authorities, questionnaires, Internet and library research, or empirical research?
1. Instruction Processes: Recipes and Physical Processes
2. Instruction Processes: Software Tutorials
Do you have a question about how to use a software tool, such as Microsoft Word, FrontPage, DreamWeaver, or HTML? As you can imagine, given the growth of the Internet and information technologies, tutorials and user manuals are exceedingly commonplace on the Internet. Below are links to several worthwhile sites.
3. Instruction Processes: Personal Development
Do you ever have difficulties finding balance in your life – eating well, exercising regularly, balancing school with work? The Internet provides many "development" Web sites that are designed to help you change your life:
4. Instruction Processes: Academic Processes
Choosing majors, getting good grades, securing internships, researching topics – these topics are commonly addressed on university Web sites. You can go to your college's home page and search for career resources, search the Internet, or consider the following examples to help you choose a career or do well in school:
5. Theoretical Processes: Psychological or Educational Development
Educators and psychologists have propounded many models of cognitive, moral, social, and intellectual development. Below are some links to some major theorists whose models of development have captured the imagination of others.