Project: 1500-2000-Word Instructional or Training Manual, Phase One

Individual: 1500-2000-Word Instructional or Training Manual, 15%
Individually, you will write a 1500-2000-word instructional or training manual that demonstrates: 1. ability to explain a task/process in clear, concise language. selection and definition of appropriate terminology and concepts. 3. awareness of the intended user/audience. 4. knowledge of instructional manual format. All diagrams, illustrations, or photos must be created by the student and integrated into his or her manual. Any outside sources cited should be documented according to APA format.

Your project deliverable is due before class on Nov. 5 according to the syllabus.

Instructional or Training Manual

  • For our purposes, we will say instructional manuals are external facing, meaning they are meant for end users, customers, or clients.
  • Training manuals are internal facing documents, meaning they are meant for employees, contractors, and colleagues.
  • You choose your audience (internal or external).
  • Its word count should be 1500-2000 words.
  • Combine words with pictures, illustrations (drawings), and/or screenshots. Any images that you use must be created by you or taken by you.
  • Clearly define the purpose of your manual. What does it teach? What does it help a person do? What task or tasks does it help someone complete in a straightforward and easy manner?
  • Telling versus showing. Always aim for showing, but provide the telling as context, clarification, and additional information.
  • Use the body of your document for writing, steps, etc. Don’t be afraid to include text boxes and end notes.
  • Provide a cover sheet, table of contents, introduction/purpose, and glossary of important terms. It can be as few or as many pages as needed.
  • Be consistent with your explanations and learn from similar kinds of manuals about what terms you should be using to explain how to do something (e.g., tapping, pressing, clicking, holding, dragging, typing, etc.).

Let’s look at some examples (using Google, enter terms including “instructions,” “user manual or guide,” and “filetype:pdf” modifier to find others).

Find your own examples for ideas and inspiration. The reading for this section of the class has to do with your own research into what instruction manuals look like.

Think about what you know enough about that you can teach it to someone else and it is something that you want to include in your professional portfolio.

Of course, choose a task or process that you have realistic access to the hardware, software, etc. that you will need for creating your instruction manual.

As you write and revise your instructions, you will want to test them with the intended audience to ensure that they are correct and easy to understand. Obtaining user feedback ensures that your instructions work, but if they don’t, you can use feedback to revise your instructions accordingly.

For next week, identify what you want to write a set of instructions for this project, and find three example instructions online (these could be webpages or PDFs) or print that you plan to use as models. Create a short memo addressed to Prof. Ellis to record this information (your topic and APA Bibliographic entries for your models–look at Purdue OWL APA Reference List for books (no author) and electronic sources. Post it as a comment to this blog post before class next week.

Project: 750-1000-Word Expanded Definition Phase 2

Remember that your 750-Word Expanded Definition document is due as a post on OpenLab before class on Tuesday, October 15.

In the last class, we talked about some places where you can find definitions for the technical term or phrase that you selected for this project. A good place to begin is the OED, but the Computer Tech resource guide on the library’s website might be a better place for technical terms–look under Encyclopedia on the left menu.

The next part of your project involves finding and discussing how the term is used in different contexts, such as articles, magazines, websites, discussion boards, and social media. The idea is to find example sentences in different sources–academic and general audience sources–that use the term that you have selected. Then, cite them and discuss how the term is used in that specific context. This might include its meaning, the audience reading the term in this context, and how the term in this context relates to other uses of the term in different contexts that you cite. Remember: context means how the term relates to other words around itself, how specific meaning are indicated or deduced, and any other relevant consideration surrounding the term (social, historical, political, etc. connections). Finding the term in context will be easy. The difficult part is picking good examples that give you interesting context to discuss.

Overall, your completed 750-Word Expanded Definition memo should follow this format:

Your Name's Expanded Definition of YOUR TERM

TO: Prof. Jason Ellis
FROM: Your Name
DATE: Due Date
SUBJECT: Expanded Definition of YOUR TERM

Introduction   [Heading Level 2]  
What is the purpose of this document? What term are you defining? How are you discussing the way it is defined and the way it is used in context? Describe a road map for what follows (definitions and context). This content should be published as paragraphs, unlike the heading for this section, which is a level 2 heading.

Definitions [Heading Level 2]
Quote several definitions of the term that you selected. Provide quotes and parenthetical citations for each definition, and include your sources in the References section at the end of the document. Each definition that you include deserves discussion in your words about what it means and how it relates to the other definitions that you include. Consider how they are alike, how are they different, who might use one versus another, etc. 

Context [Heading Level 2]
Quote several sentences from a variety of sources that use the term in context. A range of sources would provide the best source material for your discussion of how the term is used in these contexts. For example, a quote from an academic journal or two, a quote from a newspaper or magazine, a quote from a blog, and a quote from social media would give you a range of uses that might have different audiences. For each quote, you should devote at least as much space as the quote discussing what it means in that context and how it relates to the other quotes in context. Each quote should be in quotes, have a parenthetical citation, and a bibliographic entry in your references at the end of your document.

Working Definition [Heading Level 2]
Based on the definitions that you quoted and discussed, and the contextual uses of the term that you quoted and discussed, write a working definition of the term that's relevant to your career field or major, which you will need to identify (this is the specific context for your working definition).

References [Heading Level 2]
Order your APA-formatted bibliographic references by the author's last name, alphabetically. 

For APA citations, refer to the Purdue OWL’s APA guide and if you do any indirect quotes, use this guide on the Simon Fraser Library’s website.

To turn in your work, you will create a new post on our OpenLab site as you did for the 500-Word Summary project. The steps below should get you started.

Place a check next to 750-word expanded definition under categories.
Enter your post's title.
Begin your post with a heading block.
Enter your heading's text and select H2.
Start a new paragraph block and paste your introduction's text there.
Start a new heading block and enter it's title.
Type in your heading's title and press enter to begin a new paragraph block.

If you have questions about posting, please email me at jellis at sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until the last minute.

And, remember that this project is due before class on Tuesday, October 15.

Project: 750-1000-Word Expanded Definition Phase 1

Our class syllabus describes the 750-1000-word expanded definition project as:

Individually, you will write a 750-1000 word expanded definition of a technical or scientific term, with cover memo, which demonstrates:

1. correct memorandum format.

2. knowledge of the etymology and historical development of the term.

3. examples of the term’s use in various written contexts.

4. ability to compare and contrast various uses of the term.

5. use and citation of sources with proper attribution.

6. awareness of audience.

At least three library-sourced citations are required and should be cited following APA format.

In this project, you will want to select a term, example of jargon, or phrase with special or significant meaning to your major or future career. With this term, you will research and discuss what the term means, how the term’s meaning evolved over time, how its meaning invites debate, and how the term is used in real contexts.

Before delving too deep into the project, it is imperative that you select a meaningful and useful term for your project. The term should be relevant to your interests and studies. I would recommend that you choose a term that is more specific and less broad, but there could be exceptions to this recommendation.

To begin the process of writing this project, I would like you to write a brief memo addressed to Prof. Ellis with the subject: “Expanded Definition Phase One.” Begin with a sentence describing how this memo provides a record of your brainstorming. Then, write a list of at least 20 terms, words, acronyms, or phrases relevant to your studies and/or career. It is from this list that you’ll choose the one that you write your expanded definition project on. For now, you don’t have to choose which one. After you’ve completed your list, copy-and-paste it into a comment to this post, and leave your memo open in the word processor that you used to write it (for the next step).

We will discuss your memos before moving on.

Next, let’s learn about your terms. With your memo still open in your word processor of choice, choose three of the terms that you feel the most strongly about. Move them to the top of your memo’s list of terms. Using the Oxford English Dictionary (on-campus link or off-campus link), find definitions of these terms, copy the definition and etymology into your memo, indent the definition as a block quote, and follow it with an APA bibliographic citation, for example:

RAM, n.6. (2019). In Oxford English Dictionary Online. Retrieved from


integrated, adj., b. (2019). In Oxford English Dictionary Online. Retrieved from

Click the “Cite” link on each OED definition to quickly get the information that you need, but you will need to reformat it in APA style as I have demonstrated above.

Be sure to remove/correct the proxy information in the URL.

Save your memo and use this as the basis for your research.

Before our next class, consider these three terms and choose one that you want to write your project about. With the term selected, you should familiarize yourself with the Wikipedia entry (or associated entry) for that term. While you won’t be citing Wikipedia for this project, you can learn from what is shared there, and you can use the citations included on the entry for your own research.

Also, use the online reference books available through the library to learn more about the term that you selected. This is high-quality content written by experts.

Be prepared to work on this project with a selected term for our next class. The more that you learn about the term now, the easier your research and writing will be. Keep track of any research that you do by adding links to your memo and saving PDFs to your personal storage.

Project: 500-Word Summary Final Phase

Your first project in our class is due before class next week. This post describes the overall deliverable (finished product) and how to submit your work for credit.

The audience of your summary would be peers–people with a similar education and professional experience. Jargon is allowed, but acronyms should be telescoped in proceeding parentheses, such as RTFM (Read the F—g Manual) or TANSTAAFL (There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch).

The layout for your 500-Word Summary document should be as follows:

TO: Prof. Jason W. Ellis
FROM: Your Name
DATE: Due Date
SUBJECT: 500-Word Summary of Author’s-Last-Name’s “Title of Article”

Begin your 500-word article summary with a paragraph that we can call the executive summary or abstract. This paragraph is, in a sense, the summary of your summary. It should: 1) Identify the author, title of article, and the title of the journal in which it was published, 2) what is the main argument or point of the article, and 3) what are the relevant supporting points or evidence that you will discuss in your summary (think of this last sentence as a road map for the paragraphs that follow).

The paragraphs that follow should elaborate on the details that the author uses to support their argument. This might include background and context-specific information that is needed to understand the argument, examples that support the main point of the article, data that supports the argument, etc. You may use your knowledge to discuss the article’s argument and supporting evidence, but you do not need to cite any outside material. Cite the article being summarized only, please.

In your summary’s discussion section, you need to include at least one quote and parenthetical citation like we used in today’s Daily Writing assignment.

In the concluding paragraph of our summary, you should elaborate on whether you found the article persuasive or not. Explain why or why not the article is convincing. Consider the quality of the examples, counterarguments that you might imagine, counterexamples that you know about, and the authority of the author(s)–if you consider this last point you will need to look them up to learn more about their background and expertise.

Close your 500-word summary with a section titled “References” followed on the next line by an APA-formatted bibliographic citation of the article that you are summarizing. See below for an example of your document’s layout, and then see the end of this post for instructions about submitting your work.

Your completed 500-Word Article Summary should have a layout like this:


Instead of asking you to submit your work as a Word docx file as originally described on the syllabus, I would like everyone to create a new Post on our OpenLab site to submit their 500-Word Summary. This puts your work on OpenLab so that it is public-facing and easier for you to assemble into your Portfolio. Follow the steps below for posting your work on our OpenLab site.

step 1
step 2
step 3
step 4

On the final step, you will need to click Publish in the upper right corner. OpenLab will ask you to confirm that you are ready to publish by pressing Publish again. After a moment, it will give you a confirmation that your post has been published.

To confirm that your work has been published, click on “Fall 2019 Technical Writing ENG2575 E270 with Professor Ellis” at the top of the page to return to our site. Then, look at the left menu and click “Student Work” to expand that menu item, and then, click “500-Word Article Summary” to view all student-submitted work. Yours should be listed here. If you don’t see it, try submitting again. If you have any questions, email Prof. Ellis (jellis at

Submit your summary before arriving to class on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Project: 500-Word Summary Phase 2

Continuing from the assignment last week, we will begin narrowing down your list of potential scientific or technical journal articles for the 500-word summary project. In that assignment, I asked you to find 5 potential articles and write APA-formatted bibliographic citations for those. We’re going to use those with this assignment.

Of the 5 articles that you found, choose the one with an appropriate length and one that has the most relevant content that you would like to write about.

With this selection made, create a new Word or Google doc. Format it as a memo addressed to Professor Ellis. Write an introductory paragraph stating that this memo includes your selected article, a reverse outline of it, and a list of the four articles that you decided against choosing for this project.


Project: 500-Word Summary Phase 1

According to the syllabus, the first major project in Technical Writing is the “500-Word Summary.” The parameters for this deliverable (the document or artifact that you are making to specification) are:

Individual: 500-Word Summary, 10%
Individually, you will write a 500-word summary of a technical or scientific article that demonstrates: 1. ability to identify key processes and concepts in a professional science or technology article. 2. ability to describe complex processes and concepts clearly and concisely. an awareness of audience. The summary should cite the article and any quotes following APA format.

To accomplish this project, we will break it into several phases.

For the first phase, you will want to find five articles. Avoid book reviews and correspondence. We will work with these five articles to narrow down the one that you will summarize for this project in our next class.

Before we meet next week, your task is to find and print and/or download five articles relevant to your major or career from the library’s database holdings. You may not use articles found through a basic Google search or on random websites. The articles must come from vetted journals provided through City Tech’s library.

These links will help you begin searching for articles:

Keep track of possibly useful articles and journals in your notes. Also, download and save PDFs of all the articles that you find to look back at. Information to note: authors, title of article, title of journal, volume and number of journal issue, year of publication, and page numbers of the article.

So, for our next class:

  1. Find five possible articles.
  2. Print or download them to a flash drive or cloud storage so that you can easily view them on a computer in the classroom.
  3. Read each article’s abstract (if there is one) or skim the article to learn its gist or main idea.
  4. We’ll use these articles in our next class for discussion and the next phase of this project.