Toast-Making Instructions: A Practice in Technical Writing


The task of detailing a procedure is a common one for technical writers. A product manual can range from a brief outline of the basics of using the item to a massive tome explaining how intricate machinery works.

Personal experiences with the installation and service manual for the KWAUN 4600 Copier and the Rotunda Fuel Injector Tester/Cleaner provide two examples. Both required deep investigation into the mechanisms to determine the best possible machine configurations and workflows.

Several pitfalls can be encountered while describing a process clearly, concisely, and ultimately, especially if you lack extensive knowledge in this field.

It would be best if you thought about the following:

– who you’re trying to reach

– their prior knowledge of the topic

– how familiar they are with the procedure, if at all

– whether they have any background working with procedures like this

– the points that necessitate either verbal or visual explanations from you

To describe how to toast bread is your job.

This is a two-part exercise. Both follow the same procedure but aim at a unique target group. Working out the details of this seemingly straightforward procedure will be a helpful experience. You’ll need to tailor both the specifics of your material and how you present it to the specifics of your audience.

Specs on the Toaster:

The appliance is a standard, two-slice toaster found in most households. The toasting process can be initiated by depressing a slide. This dial goes from 0 to 10 on the “light to dark” scale. There is a dedicated setting to toast just one side for items like bagels and English muffins.

First Part of an Exercise

Provide detailed instructions on how to toast a single slice of bread.

Teens and young adults in cities over 10,000 are the target demographic. These towns can be found north of Kentucky and west of the Mississippi.

Second Half of the Workout

Provide detailed instructions on how to toast a single slice of bread.

The target demographic consists of young adults (18–25) born and raised on a small South Pacific island with a population of less than 500. They know electricity and indoor plumbing but are not accustomed to either.

After drafting your two procedures, please refer to the answers provided to see how closely they match your own. Examine the solutions and see if there is anything you might have done differently.


The assignment called for a brief explanation of preparing toast in a regular toaster. Two distinct demographics make up your intended audience.

The Answer, Part One

Even if they’ve never made toast before, it’s safe to assume that the first group — the young Americans — knows what they’re doing. That indicates that a moderate amount of prior knowledge about bread and toasters is sufficient for getting started. It would be best to balance what they don’t know and must know.

Making toast for this crowd would involve the following basic steps:

First, grab a piece of bread (illustration A shows a hand holding a loaf of bread).

Please insert it into the top of the toaster [Graphic B: a slice of bread placed into a toaster slot].

Third, decide how well-toasted you’d want the bread to be by turning the “light to dark dial” from 0 to 10 [Graphic C: picture of the dial with an arrow pointing to one of the numbers].

Fourth, ensure the slide is down [Image: D, fingers pressing down on the decline, an arrow pointing down].

5. The toast will automatically rise when it’s done. Graphic E shows a piece of bread waiting to be toasted.

Second Part: The Answer

The youthful people of a South Pacific island provide a far different difficulty than the first group. You wouldn’t assume the same level of familiarity or experience. You might presume these individuals have never heard of toasting the bread before.

You ought to get back to first principles.

Making toast for this crowd would involve the following basic steps:

[Graphic A] describes the various parts of a toaster.

To start, a toaster is an electrical device that requires a 120-volt power source. The toaster’s power cord is shown here being inserted into an outlet (Graphic B), and both the socket and outlet are labeled for clarity.

Bread is available in a wide range of forms. Graphic C shows various slices of bread to show the variety of shapes and sizes available.

First, grab a slice of bread that will fit into the toaster’s slot (see Figure D for an illustration of a toaster’s toasting slot).

The bread should fit snugly but not tightly in the slot (see Graphic E for an illustration of a bread slice in a place).

To avoid getting burned or getting your bread stuck in the slot, ensure your slices aren’t too thick or wide.

5. Determine the desired degree of toastiness by turning the “light to dark dial” from 0 to 10 [Graphic F: example of the dial with an arrow pointing at one of the numbers].

Remember that the higher the number you choose on the scale, the darker (more toasted) the toast will be.

Step 6: Press the front slide of the toaster down until it stops (illustration G shows fingers pressing the drop-down in the intended direction).

Please be aware that the toaster will get very hot when in use. While the toaster is heating up, you should not touch it.

Graphic H shows a slice of toast prepping to be popped up from a toaster when it is ready to be removed.

There is a striking disparity between the two groups’ approach and content.

In general, the procedure must include these steps:

have a sensible progression

give directions on what to do next

Explain what will happen when each step has been taken.

– Complement the text with relevant images and diagrams.

As a technical writer, you can’t assume your readers have the same level of expertise as you. What the audience already knows is essential, but so is what you can do to solidify their understanding of the process.

Technical writing can be lucrative if you string sentences together and organize your thoughts. In your leisure time, you can turn it into a second source of revenue.

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