Using model texts to teach the genre features of procedural instructions

If designed products are going to be reproduced, designers have to outline the procedural steps for others to create their designs. Teachers can use model texts to show students how to create procedural instructions. As students become more familiar with writing instructional texts, they can add to and enhance instructional texts they are given and use, both in terms of the literacy features and about the design process itself.

For example, for a Year 7 or 8 class that is learning about woodwork, a teacher might use an instructional video to show students how to create a butt join (VCDSTC048, VCDSCD051). As the teacher shows the class one of the DIY projects, they can explicitly explore some of the genre features of the instructional text such as:

  • clear naming and visual example of the join
  • explanation of purpose and application of the join
  • list of materials required
  • instructions are given in imperative form using precise action verbs (e.g. put, join, glue)
  • use of temporal or sequential connectives (e.g. first, then, now)
  • introduction and definition of new terminology (e.g. bullet head, thickness and gauge of the nail)
  • problem-solving or troubleshooting (e.g. preventing split wood).

Students can create a graphic organiser to record and explain each component of the procedural instructions. The graphic organiser can be later used by the student to support their independent writing. Below is a graphic organiser Year 8 students co-created with their teacher for the instruction video explaining how to create a butt join. The students have then used the template to create a procedural written text.

​Section of instructional textPurpose of the section​​Written procedural text
​TitleShort phrase that names the object the creator is making.​​How to produce a butt join
​Introduction​Briefly outlines what the creator is making, what the created object is used for, and sometimes how long it will take.​Useful, simple join used in woodwork
Tools and Materials​Lists the tools and materials needed to create the object.
  • ​20 mm thick pine
  • PVA glue
  • two 40 mm x 2 mm bullethead nails
  • hammer
  • vice
  • rag
  • apron
DesignPresents the designed object in visual form.​ sketch of a butt join​


​Outlines the steps the creator has to perform to make the object.

Instructions are either numbered or use temporal or sequential connectives (e.g. first, second, finally, now, next, then).

Instructions are given in imperative form using precise action verbs (e.g. use, glue, stitch, cut).

Technical nouns or subject-specific terminology is explained (e.g. ‘bullethead nail’, ‘gauge’, ‘sit proud’).

Expanded noun groups provide details of ingredients/materials/ equipment (e.g. ‘top of inside piece of timber ‘, ‘outside piece of timber’ ‘halfway to the thickness of the other timber, ‘right angle of the bench’, ‘excess glue’).

Inclusion of adverbs or prepositional phrases to express details of how, when, where, extent (e.g. ‘into outside piece of timber’, ‘into the vice’, ‘through the outside piece of timber into the inside piece of timber’,’ approximately 10 mm away from edge’, ‘squarely’, ‘tightly’).

  1. ​Put on apron.
  2. Put glue on parts of wood that are going to be joined. Extra glue is needed on end-grain.
  3. Hammer two nails into outside piece of timber, approximately 10 mm away from edge. Nails should sit proud of timber (sticking through slightly).
  4. Tightly secure inside piece into the vice. Align top of inside piece of timber with the bench.
  5. Place outside piece of timber squarely over the inside piece of timber. Use fingers to feel that the pieces of timber are square.
  6. Hammer nails through the outside piece of timber into the inside piece of timber.
  7. Check to make sure two pieces are touching (join is compressed).
  8. Wipe away excess glue.
Troubleshooting / Advice

​Provides a list of common problems creators might encounter and offers solutions to the identified problems.

  • ​Use rag to keep work area clean.
  • Hold hammer near the end of the handle.
  • Blunt nails before hammering through timber to prevent splitting.
  • Clean up glue after completing the join as to prevent wood turning grey.


Dahl, D. W., Chattopadhyay, A., & Gorn, G. J. (2001). The importance of visualisation in concept design. Design Studies, 22(1), 5–26.

Sato, K., & Matsushima, K. (2006). Effects of audience awareness on procedural text writing. Psychological Reports, 99(1), 51–73.