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Procedure Writing

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Procedure writing: As easy as 1, 2, 3? Optional, conditional, and branching steps

Procedure writing: As easy as 1, 2, 3? Optional, conditional, and branching steps

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  • 1. Procedure writing: As easy as 1, 2, 3? Optional, conditional, and branching steps © Marcia (Riefer Poulsen) Johnston 2009 [email_address]
  • 2. To view in PowerPoint, press the F5 key (or in the menu bar go to Slide Show > View Show ), and click through the slides.
  • 3. What we’ll cover
    • Definitions
    • Examples
    • Exercises
  • 4. What do all steps have in common?
    • True sequence 1, 2, 3 a, b, c
    •   
    • User action Press this. Open that. (imperative voice)
    We’ve all seen “steps” like this: Why are these probably not steps? 5. (Optional) Change the circle’s color. 6. (Optional) Change the circle’s size.
  • 5. Definitions
    • Optional step
    • A step that you can skip.
    • Conditional step
    • A step that you take if and only if… .
    • In that case, you can’t skip it.
    • Branching step
    • A step that gives you choices.
  • 6. This is a basic (required) step.
    • 5. Press the power button.
  • 7. What kind of step is this?
    • 4. If you are not registered on the LAN, register your computer as a client.
    • Conditional step
    • This step must be done if and only if this condition applies.
  • 8. What kind of step is this? Trick question
    • 8. If desired, adjust the screen brightness.
    • Optional step
    • This step can be skipped.
    • Clearer form:
    • 8. (Optional) Adjust the screen brightness.
  • 9. What kind of step is this?
    • 5. Format the diskette.
      • If you have a UFS system, type fdformat .
      • If you have an MS-DOS system, type fdformat -d .
    • Branching step
    • Tip: If the same branches recur, consider separate procedures (UFS system, MS-DOS system).
  • 10. What kind of step is this? Trick question
    • 2. To specify the date, click New .
    • Infinitives that directly follow the number are ambiguous.
    • Three ways to read this step:
    • Click New , and specify the date.
    • (Optional) Click New , and specify the date.
    • If the date is not specified, click New , and specify it.
    Required Optional Conditional
  • 11. What if your steps do this?
    • “ Trying to explain every possible way to complete a task makes a confusing procedure. If there are many ways to perform a task, decide which method you will present (the easiest to learn, the easiest to perform), and then be consistent. Refer to the alternatives in related topics.”
    • JoAnn Hackos Standards for Online Communication
  • 12. Exercise #1 How would you rewrite this?
    • 4. Post the file on the intranet if the file is complete.
    • One possibility:
    • 4. If the file is complete, post it on the intranet.
  • 13. Exercise #2 How would you rewrite this?
    • 1. (Optional) Click Timeout Settings .
    • 2. Select a timeout interval.
    • One possibility:
    • 1. (Optional) Change the timeout interval. a. Click Timeout Settings . b. Select a timeout interval.
  • 14. Exercise #3 How would you rewrite this?
    • 6. Determine whether to make this printer the default printer.
      • If no, go to Step 7.
      • If yes, select Default .
    • One possibility:
    • 6. (Optional) Select Default .
  • 15. Branching: A text-free example
    • Step 3 from the text-free CP 50 electrocardiograph startup guide
    • Saved us from translating this: “Install the thermal paper. If you have z-fold paper, do this… blah blah blah. If you have roll paper, do that … blah blah blah.
  • 16. Books that I pilfered from
    • Read Me First! Sun, 2nd edition, 2003, pp 127-132
    • Developing Quality Technical Information IBM, 2nd edition, 2004, pp 41-44
    • Single Sourcing: Building Modular Documentation Kurt Ament, 2003, pp 123
    • Standards for Online Communication JoAnn Hackos & Dawn Stevens, 1997, pp 271-272

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