Articles the primary purpose of which is to give directions for doing something in a particular way, are always in demand.
The simplest type is the recipe or formula containing a few directions for combining ingredients. More elaborate processes naturally demand more complex directions and require longer articles. In the simpler types the directions are given in the imperative form; that is, the reader is told to "take" this thing and that, and to "mix" it with something else. Although such recipe directions are clear, they are not particularly interesting. Many readers, especially those of agricultural journals, are tired of being told to do this and that in order to get better results. They are inclined to suspect the writer of giving directions on the basis of untried theory rather than on that of successful practice. There is an advantage, therefore, in getting away from formal advice and directions and in describing actual processes as they have been carried on successfully.
Articles intended to give practical guidance are most interesting when cast in the form of an interview, a personal experience, or a narrative. In an interview article, a person may indirectly give directions to others by describing in his own words the methods that he has used to accomplish the desired results. Or the writer, by telling his own experiences in doing something, may give readers directions in an interesting form.
Whatever method he adopts, the writer must keep in mind the questions that his readers would be likely to ask if he were explaining the method or process to them in person. To one who is thoroughly familiar with a method the whole process is so clear that he forgets how necessary it is to describe every step to readers unfamiliar with it. The omission of a single point may make it impossible for the reader to understand or to follow the directions. Although a writer need not insult the intelligence of his readers by telling them what they already know, he may well assume that they need to be reminded tactfully of many things that they may have known but have possibly forgotten.
Two Practical Guidance Articles. A method of filing office records, as explained apparently by the man who devised it, is well set forth in the following combination of the personal experience and the "how-to-do-something" types of articles. It appeared in System with a half-tone reproduction of a photograph showing a man looking over records in a drawer of the desk at which he is seated.
Who'll Do John's Work? BY M. C. HOBART "It's a quarter after 8 and Schuyler hasn't showed up," telephoned Beggs, one of our foremen, last Tuesday morning. "I've put Fanning on his machine, but that won't help much unless I can get somebody to work at Fanning's bench. Got anybody you can let me have for today?" I didn't know offhand. But I told Beggs I'd call him back.
Ten minutes later a young lathe operator reported to Beggs. He was able to run Fanning's machine while the latter temporarily filled the shoes of the absent Schuyler.
Scarcely a week passes that does not bring a similar call to our employment office. While our plant, as plants go, is not large, we always have a number of men working with us who are fitted by experience and adaptability to do other work than that which they are hired to do. Such men are invaluable to know about, especially when an operator stays away for a day or perhaps a week and the shop is full of orders. Once it was a problem to find the right man immediately. A few additions to our employment records made it possible to keep track of each man's complete qualifications.
The employment records I keep in my desk in the deep drawer. They are filed alphabetically by name. When we hire a man we write his name and the job he is to fill on the outside of a 9 by 12 manila envelope. Into this envelope we put his application, his references, and other papers. His application tells us what kinds of work he can do and has done in other shops.
There are 29 different kinds of work to be done in our shops, from gear cutting to running errands. I have listed these operations, alphabetically, on a cardboard the exact length of the employment record envelope, 12 inches. When a man tells me in his application that he not only can operate a drill press, for which he is hired, but has also worked at grinding, I fit my cardboard list to the top of the employment record envelope and punch two notches along the top directly opposite the words "drill press" and "grinding" on my list.
Then I file away the envelope.
I rest secure now in my knowledge that I have not buried a potential grinder in a drill press operator, or that I do not have to carry his double qualifications in my mind. I know that if Beggs should suddenly telephone me some morning that his grinder is absent— sick, or fishing, perhaps—I need only take my cardboard list and, starting at A, run it down my file until I come to the envelope of the drill press operator. I am stopped there automatically by the second notch on the envelope which corresponds in position to the word "grinder" on my list.
And there is every likelihood that, with the necessary explanation to the man's own foreman, Beggs will get his grinder for the day.
From the following article, printed in Farm and Fireside city and country readers alike may glean much practical information concerning ways and means of making a comfortable living from a small farm. It was illustrated by four halftone reproductions of photographs showing (1) the house, (2) the woman at her desk with a typewriter before her, (3) the woman in her dining-room about to serve a meal from a labor-saving service wagon, and (4) the woman in the poultry yard with a basket of eggs.
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