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WRD 204: Technical Writing
Major Writing Project
Instructional Sets
This exercise is the first of your major writing tasks. It is a corpus-based analysis of texts assembled from
a specific genre. The purpose of this is twofold: First, to examine real texts used within your field in
order to familiarize yourself with their forms, moves, and standard guidelines. The second is to compare
these texts to one another in order to gain an understanding of what constitutes a “successful” text in
the genre.
Students will assemble a corpus of texts from the genre of INSTRUCTIONAL DOCUMENTS. The
corpus will include at LEAST THREE EXAMPLES for analysis, and must be cited using proper MLA
or APA format.
At least one of these should be from your field or area of professional interest. You can find these
samples online, or use the library’s archival resources. If you get stuck, simply ask for help finding
instructional guides from [field of study]. If your texts have no individual author, simply cite the
company or department as the author.
Once your corpus is assembled, write an analytical essay explaining the RULES, MOVES, and NORMS
of the genre. Essentially, your goal is to tell me what an instructional guide does, and how it does
this. Use the texts from your corpus as examples of the larger genre. Don’t get too hung up on
describing every detail about your corpus, just focus on what’s relevant. Try to consider the
following (though you don’t have to touch on all of these):
Audience: Who is this instructional document for? Don’t just say “consumers” or
“employees”, but consider how the writing, terminology, formatting, and usability of the
document reflect on the readers. Are they experts or amateurs? Are they of a certain age,
demographic, nationality, etc. What does the document assume the reader knows, and what
does it think they need to know.
Usability: Is the document usable? Is it easy to read or not? Is it easy to access? Could you
make use of it while following the instructions? Is it not detailed enough? Too detailed? How
effective is it overall?
Modality: How was the document published/distributed? Print? Online? Both? Other? How
does this affect the way in which the audience interacts with it? What does it tell us about
the product/service it is instructing the reader in? What does it tell us about the
producer/author and the audience? Would this document work as well in other modalities?
Ethics/Legality: What are some of the potential risks for the reader? What is at stake if they
do not follow the instructions properly? How does the document ensure the audience’s
safety (or does it)? How does it ensure the legal safety of the author should something go
Efficacy: Is it any good? Is this a successful example of the genre, or does it fail (and how)?
What does this item from your corpus tell us about the genre as a whole?
Moves: What is the order of ideas? How detailed are the descriptions? What kind of
language is used? Is it complex and jargon or simple and direct? Are there translations for
other languages? Are any notable languages left out? Do they use visuals? Text? Both? What
does all of this suggest about the author/audience/product?
2-3 pages. In addition, they will include a separate WORKS CITED page, which will not count
towards the total.

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