Turning off external hard drive

I just connected a Seagate external 300gb hard drive to my 12 inch Powerbook G4. I am wondering if there is an "order of operations" as far as turning the external hard drive off with the laptop?
The manual is not exactly clear to my understanding. It does mention dragging the external hard drive icon to the trash icon in my dock area but I think that is if I would like to DISCONNECT it from my laptop?
I am GUESSING that I would turn off the hard drive first THEN the laptop? Does anyone know if it matters, I do not want to damage the drive or any info on it.
Any info woul be appreciated, thanks in advance people!

wow, thanks so much for the all the comprehensive info! I appreciate the fact that you guys didn't leave anything out didn't assume anything! It makes things much more clear.
So it sounds like the jist is make sure that if I AM turning the external HD off to make sure I drag the external HD icon on my desktop to the dock FIRST in order to avoid potentially damaging or loosing files.
But what about turning the external HD and laptop ON? Is there also an order? I am assuming the external HD should be turned on first?
It would be nice if the external HD could turn on and off whenever I turn on/off my laptop but I doubt that is a possibility.
thanks again, looking forward to learning more!!!
Powerbook 12 Mac OS X (10.2.x)

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