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The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 1.2.1

Explicit Purposes

Most scientific documents have as their principal purpose one or more of the following actions:

to provide information

to give instructions

to persuade the reader

to enact (or prohibit something)

Whatever the general purpose of an overall document, certain sections of a document always have a specific purpose. The following table outlines the principal purpose usually associated with common document types and with sections in technical documents.

Explicit Purpose Document Types Sections in Document
To provide information Reports, literature reviews, specifications Background, theory, materials, results, graphics and tables, résumé sections
To give instructions Instructions Procedures, work plan
To persuade the reader Proposals, recommendation reports, job application letters, résumés Discussion, conclusion, recommendation
To enact something Acceptance letters, regulations, patents, authorization memoranda

Examples of Explicit Document Purposes

To provide information

This document will discuss the genetic basis of muscular differentiation of the Mediterranean fruit fly.

To give instructions

This document outlines a procedure for isolating the mechanisms of muscular differentiation in the Mediterranean fruit fly.

To persuade the reader

This document proposes a study of the mechanisms for blocking muscular differentiation in the Mediterranean fruit fly.

To enact (or prohibit) something

NOTICE: Mediterranean fruit fly quarantine area: no fruit allowed beyond this point.

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