Writing Instruction Manuals The Last Powerpoint of the Semester
Today’s Agenda Writing Instruction Manuals One last chance at Presentations Workshop Time Grade Conferences Course Assessments
Questions Readers Ask Most Often What will these instructions help me do? Is there anything special I need to know to be able to use these instructions effectively? If I’m working with equipment, where are the parts I need to use? What materials, equipment, and tools do I need? Once I’m ready to start, what – exactly – do I do? If something isn’t working correctly, how do I fix it?
Superstructure for Instructions Introduction Description of Equipment List of Materials and Equipment Needed Directions Troubleshooting
Preparing Instructions Usability objective is obvious – to enable readers to perform a procedure Persuasive objective – to read the instructions at all
Conducting Research Depends on how well you know the subject For the assignment, show some outside research from another credible source or diagrams.
Planning Organize directions hierarchically List all the steps in the process Group together some steps if the instructions are long Graphics can be extremely effective Page design will help readers find their place. Consider subheadings, for instance. Color can help in some limited instances.
Drafting and Revising Write clearly and succinctly Use as few words as possible. When revising, consider showing someone else your draft.
Crafting - Introduction As short as possible Most don’t need one For this assignment, give a little context “This manual tells you how to…” Purpose Intended Audience Scope Conventions used in the manual “Left and right refer to a user facing the dashboard.”
Safety Warning Stand out visually Place them before the action State the nature of the hazard Steps to avoid damage
Crafting - Equipment Describe what equipment is needed Diagrams List all items needed to perform the task
Crafting - Directions Give only enough information to perform the next step Present the steps in a list Use the active voice and imperative mood Give commands. “Stop the engine” as opposed to “You should stop the engine.” Highlight key words
Sample – Make a PB & J Sandwich You’ll need: Bread PB & J Hunger Warning: PB & J Sandwich presents a choking hazard. Use caution when eating this sandwich. Step 1: Get bread Step 2: Spread PB & J on bread Step 3: Put bread together Step 4: Eat sandwich Step 5: Enjoy (and don’t choke)
Crafting - Directions Help readers locate the next step Number the steps Leave white space between steps Give one action per step Put step numbers in their own column Align them separately from the instructions
Crafting - Directions Distinguish Actions from Supporting Information Spread PB & J on bread Bread should be covered in PB & J Group related steps under headings This helps readers find the portion of the instructions they need
Crafting - Directions Use many graphics Show where objects are How to perform steps What should result
Crafting - Directions Present Branching Steps Clearly If PB & J is fresh, continue to step 4 If PB & J is moldy, throw it out and acquire new PB & J
Crafting - Directions Explain what to do in case of a mistake or unexpected result Acquire PB & J Note: If PB & J is on fire, do not acquire. Call 911.
Troubleshooting Answers to the various problem Table Format helps Error Cause Remedy My PB&J is not tasty You may not like it. Don’t eat it. My PB&J is outside You closed the bread Do it right. the bread. wrong.
Sample Instructions Check page 663 for a longer, more serious, sample.
Presentations? If you haven’t presented, today is the last day for making one up.