In directional process writing, a diagram or drawing outlining
the important steps of the process helps the reader get the big picture.
Diagrams don't include all the details of the written process description,
but they're a great way to present an overview that will make the full
set of instructions easier to follow.
Technical writers often use a particular type of diagram called a flowchart.
The basic flowchart summarizes the procedure, showing the steps in the process
with labelled rectangles or circles, connected by arrows showing
the direction of the process.
This simple flowchart outlines the basic process of applying
for admission to a university:
Do you have any questions about this university's admission process
after reading the flowchart? Do you wonder, for example, what are the mailing
addresses of the university's Registrar's Office and Student Services
office? Or how to arrange for a copy of your transcript? Can students
apply for early admission? What about students who are applying after
having worked for a year, instead of continuing on straight from high
school? How does one apply for a place in the university's residence?
These questions would probably be addressed in the written instructions
accompanying the flowchart, but the diagram gives a useful overview. Students
can see at glance, for example, that applying for admission to a university
isn't a one-step procedure, so they should begin planning early.