Annotations

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Specifications. These specifications present requirements for the construction of single-story purple martin birdhouses. The owner of a nature and wildlife store wants purple martin birdhouses built according to these specifications.

Introduction. The introduction to these specifications establishes what this document is and who owns it.

Requirements. The second section establishes that the bidder must build the birdhouses according to these specifications and that any "deviation" must be approved by the owner of these specifications—in other words, the person who wants these birdhouses built and plans to sell them.

Terminology. This third section defines key terms used in this specification. We find out just who is the owner and who is the bidder.

Materials. This fourth section sets out the requirements for the materials to be used in the construction of these birdhouses.

Decimal numbering. Notice how the sections of this specification are numbered using a decimal system that uses up to three places. Each requirement is presented as a separate sentence and given its appropriate decimal number. That way, each requirement stands out and can be referenced easily.

Writing style. Notice the heavy use of "shall." This is standard for specifications. In this context, the word indicates a requirement.

Numbers. Notice how these specifications use digits for numbers rather than words. This document demonstrates the idea that exact numerical values in a technical context should be shown as digits, rather than words. (See Appendix A Processes in Technical Communication for more on numbers in text.)

Fractions. Notice the use of the hyphen between whole numbers and fractions. This prevents momentarily misreading 5-3/4 as 53/4. As a technical writer, you don't want readers to be confused even for a fraction of a section.

Symbols. Notice that the symbol " is used for inches here. There are so many instances of this measurement that the symbol is the best and most efficient way to present it. (To get the straight quotation mark, you can use Arial.)

Format and alignment. Notice how the three levels of decimal-numbered sections align in relation to each other. The lower-level item aligns with the text of the next-higher-level item. Thus, "5.9.1 The railing shall…" aligns with the first letter of the text of item 5.9.

Multiplcation symbol. Notice that the math symbol ´ is used for "by" between numerical specifications. In Microsoft Word, you can get this symbol by pressing Insert > Symbol and selecting it from normal text; in WordPerfect, select from Math/Scientific; in Word Pro, press Text > Insert Other > Symbol and select from the current font.

Inspection requirements. The sixth and final section establishes essential inspection tests that the finished product should pass.

That completes the comments for this example.