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  1. Instructions Writing Step-By-Step Procedures

  2. Definition of Instructions • Instruction are a form of writing that tells/teaches readers how to do something: • create a product • perform some physical operation, etc. • Context is also provided to explain why and when the reader would want or need to perform that task. • Step-by-step instructions are given to describe exactly how to complete the task. • The depth of detail given varies depending on the reader’s expertise and the complexity of the operation. • Writing that explains how something happens or is done is called “procedures.”

  3. Organization of Instructions • Instructions usually consist of two parts: • An overview • A set of individual steps that follow a sequential method of organization

  4. The Overview Contains: • An opening statement that identifies the purpose and content of the instructions • The Hardware Maintenance and Service Manual is the publication you use to isolate and repair any failure of a Field Replaceable Unit (FRU). • An explanation of why, when, and where the task should be performed (i.e. under what circumstances, by whom, etc.) • Definitions of key terms and ideas the reader must understand to complete the instructions successfully. (Define terms as you go.) • A list of materials needed • To clean wood furniture you need: • Gum turpentine • Boiled linseed oil

  5. The Overview Contains (cont.): • A list of tools or equipment needed • To hang wallpaper you need the following tools: • Smoothing brush • Seam roller • Pasting brush, etc. • A summary of the steps involved (briefly and at a high-level) • X-ray film developing includes these five major procedures, all performed in darkroom conditions: Developing Rinsing Fixing Rerinsing Drying

  6. Tips for Writing Effective Steps • Write in the imperative voice (the “you” command form) with the “you” omitted • Begin each step with a verb (Do not use passive voice for actions the reader must do) • Use only one action per step unless two actions must be performed almost simultaneously • Keep each step short and to the point • Separate action from the response or result of the action using bold and/or paragraph breaks

  7. Tips for Writing Effective Steps (cont.) • Present steps in an uncluttered simple format • Each step is separated from the others and identified by step numbers, each in its own paragraph, surrounded by white space. • Emphasize important words • Menu items may appear in a different typeface or graphically. • Cater to different levels of experience through design • Allow for use as a reference

  8. To Write a Procedure: • Determine a topic for instruction • Define the purpose and audience • Define the tasks • Do appropriate research • List equipment and supplies needed • Plan the special effects or styles (bold, italics, fonts, spacing, etc.) • Plan the terminology

  9. To Write a Procedure (cont.): • Identify the main headings • Plan and develop graphics • Write the introduction(s) or overview sections • Write the individual steps • Plan special notices (warnings, cautions, etc.) • Test the steps • Pass steps off for review—usability • Revise, revise, revise

  10. Doing Research • Identify the reader’s goal(s) and expert-level • Identify materials and equipment needed • Identify how long the procedure will take to perform • Identify the step-by-step activities of each major stage • Identify the precautions to be observed when performing the procedure • Identify the visuals that illustrate situations, equipment, actions, and other aspects of the procedure • Identify the degree of difficulty that users of your instructions might experience in learning or performing the procedure

  11. Your Assignment • Choose a procedure or set of related procedures that you know how to do well • Change a Flat Tire on Your Bike • Knit a Scarf • Change Your Oil • Fillet a Fish • (no recipes please) • Write a 3-5 page document that teaches someone else how to accomplish that task • Pick something you can handle completely in the page allotment (not too simple or too complex) • Build a Campfire • Carve a Jack o’ Lantern • Wash a Car • Plant a Garden

  12. Your Assignment (cont.) • Assume that your reader is a relatively educated adult of average intelligence who knows nothing about your topic • Include graphics and design your document effectively • Use a digital camera to create consistent graphics that meet your specific needs • Be sure to cite all graphics you did not create • Do not do any outside research!! (graphics excepted)

  13. Doing a Self Assessment • If you do not know how to perform the task you are documenting, your instructions will likely be full of errors, ambiguity, and omissions. • If you know how to do it perfectly, but assume that others do, too—your instructions will be obtuse, obscure, and incomplete. • Good instructions are written by people who know the procedure inside and out AND know how much detailed instruction their readers need • Remember: It’s all about the reader’s needs!!