Writing Instructions

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Writing Instructions

  1. 1. How to Write Instructions ENG 2314
  2. 2. What is the purpose of instructions? Primarily  To enable users to complete tasks Secondarily  To tell users the following:  How to do something  Why to do it  What materials and equipment are necessary  Where to begin  What to do next  How to recover from something gone wrong
  3. 3. Instruction Formats  User manual  Reference Manual  Tutorial  Quick Reference Guide  On-line/hyperlinked documentation  Procedures Guide
  4. 4. Why are instructions important?  Prescription drug example
  5. 5. Total patients who Patients who completed survey misunderstood questionnaire dosing instructions Prescriptions 71 55 (77%) specifying dosing instructions in hourly intervals Prescriptions with 429 4 (.99%) dosing instructions specifying daily frequency Taken from Burnett, Rebecca. Technical Communication 6th ed.
  6. 6. Why are instructions important?  Prescription drug example  Legal liability
  7. 7. Guidelines
  8. 8. Content Elements of Instructions  Use a clear and limiting title
  9. 9. Bicycle Tune-Ups How to Give Your Bicycle a Tune-Up How to Change the Oil in Your Car How to Change the Oil in a 2000 Mazda Protégé ES
  10. 10. Content Elements of Instructions  Be an informed author  If you haven’t done it, how can you tell anybody else how to do it?  The paradox: you’re an expert, but the user isn’t. How can you communicate so they’ll understand you?
  11. 11. Content Elements of Instructions  Use visuals
  12. 12. Content Elements of Instructions  Use an appropriate level of detail and technicality
  13. 13. Tips to Provide an “Appropriate” Level of Detail and Technicality  Provide background information so the reader understands the need for instructions  Provide “enough” detail  Include enough steps and detail so the instructions can stand alone  Provide only what users need  Instead of focusing on the product, focus on the task  Omit steps that are obvious  Divide the task into simple steps and substeps  Allow users to focus on one task at a time
  14. 14. Formal Elements of Instructions  Sequential order
  15. 15. Formal Elements of Instructions  Sequential order  Imperative mood
  16. 16. The student clamps the specimen onto the flat plate. You should clamp the specimen onto the flat plate. It is important to clamp the specimen onto the flat plate. The specimen is clamped onto the flat plate. Clamp the specimen onto the flat plate.
  17. 17. It is important to not type anything after the target drive name. Do not type anything after the target drive name.
  18. 18. The lantern should be primed by pumping the lever for 15-20 seconds. Prime the lantern pumping level for 15-20 seconds.
  19. 19. Formal Elements of Instructions  Parallelism
  20. 20. Always Observe Safety Rules Not Parallel Parallel 1. Wearing of safety glasses. Wear safety glasses. 2. Proper tool for the job. Use proper tool for the job. 3. Use only tools that are Use functioning tools only. functioning. 4. Maintain a clean, organized Maintain a clean, organized work area. work area. 5. Questions relating to Present questions relating to procedures or the proper procedures or the proper handling of tools should be handling of tools to group presented to your group leader. leader.
  21. 21. Formal Elements of Instructions  Use a title, headings, and subheadings to organize information
  22. 22. Formal Elements of Instructions  Warnings
  23. 23. CAUTION
  24. 24. Formal Elements of Instructions  Notes and Hazard Notices
  25. 25. Formal Elements of Instructions  Visuals
  26. 26. Formal Elements of Instructions  Separate steps visually

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