Writing for Business and Industry



Define the purpose

The first part of the introduction should define the purpose of the document.† You want to ensure the reader knows:

Poor example - starting too quick

In this example, the author is describing gas refrigerators.† Notice how the introduction jumps straight into talking about how the refrigerator works instead of providing background information so that these paragraphs would make sense to the reader.† The last sentence of the first paragraph should be earlier.† Until then, the reader has no idea how to interpret the text:† will it be talking about the absorption principle, chemical actions, refrigerant properties of ammonia, or refrigerators.

Gas-type household refrigerators act on the absorption principle. Absorption means to take up or in by chemical or molecular action. Since the refrigerant ammonia is ultimately absorbed at one point in the system, the gas refrigerator is known as an absorption refrigerator. This report will detail the process and components of an absorption refrigerating system.

A gas refrigerator, as opposed to an electric refrigerator, cools by following Daltonís Law of partial pressures using burning kerosene as its primary source of energy. Daltonís Law states: "The total pressure of a confined mixture of gases is the sum of the pressures of each of the gases in the mixture.".

The first paragraphs is actually not bad paragraphs to include in the introduction.† However, it needs to be situated as paragraph 3 or 4 and not the opening text.

The second paragraph has no place at all. Talking about Dalton's law is not of interest to a general audience who wants to know how a gas refrigerator works. They want to understand the process, not the terminology of the physics behind it.

Good example - setting the context

This example starts out with general statements of refrigeration and narrows the topic down.† Unlike some other examples in this section, it does not just jump directly into the topic.

This example was written for a general description of gas refrigeration.† In the context was different, you might only have to explain how the process fits into the overall context.† For example, if you were writing the documentation for a large warehouse sized refrigerator (like a company such as Sara Lee uses), the process description would be used to placed the refrigeration cycle into the context of just that overall system.

Example 1† Refrigerators have many uses from large-scale refrigeration machinery, which has been developed for trains, ships, factories, and cold-storage plants to personal use as in homes and recreational vehicles. There are two types of personal use refrigerators, gas and electric. Currently, the refrigerator unit in most homes is the electric-type and the gas-type is primarily used where electricity is not available such as in a recreational vehicle. Both are mainly used to preserve perishable food items and the temperature of these units is approximately 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 to 3.3 degrees Celsius). The gas-type refrigerator operates on the absorption principal. This means that a physical process takes place to absorb heat.† As the heat is absorbed the temperature is lowered for refrigeration.

Example 2 Whether in a home, business, industrial plant or travel application, there are dif-ferent types of refrigeration to meet different needs.† One generally efficient means of refrigeration is the gas refrigerator.† This type of system is used com-monly in light applications such as RVís, as well as much bigger industrial applications. Following is a description of the workings of a gas refrigeration system.

Poor example - talking down to the readers

Donít talk down to the reader or get too folksy.† The last half of this paragraph sounds condescending to the reader.† Avoid using phrases like "this will answer your questions about" or "if you have ever wondered how this works."† In general, when you write a technical description, it will be part of a formal document; write it as a formal document.

example 1 The gas refrigerator uses burning propane gas to cool the items inside of the storage area.† The burning gas undergoes several chemical reactions inside the various parts of the refrigerator.† The gases involved, ammonia and hydrogen, are well known to most people.† Water completes the process.† Common knowledge makes it difficult to understand how this is possible.† The following description of the various chemical reactions that go on in a gas refrigerator will hopefully clear up any questions one may have about how it is possible to derive cold from heat.

Replace the text of "Common knowledge makes it" derive cold from heat.- with something that sounds like:† "Although counter-intuitive, the process follows normal refrigeration principles.† The remainder of this document discusses each step of the process in detail."

example 2 †How gas refrigerators work is a mystery to many. In the process description below, we will see how a refrigerator produces cold air. Not only are we going to view the refrigeratorís cycle part-by-part, but we will also discuss the refrigeratorís cycle and its parts in laymenís terms.

This next example also talks down by making too general of a claim.† Also, the reader is not really interested in a history lesson, they want to understand how a gas refrigerator works.

Example 3† The refrigerator was one of the most important inventions of the twentieth century.† When the refrigerator first hit the market it was available in two different types.† The first type was the electric refrigerator and the second type was the gas refrigerator.† This paper will focus on how the gas refrigerator takes gas which is normally associated with heat and turn it into cold refrigeration.


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