How to write instructions
How do you write clear instructions? Here are a few guidelines:
- Prefix the instructions with a clear heading that summarizes the task.
- Show clearly who does what. If a process involves more than one person, write a different set of instructions for each person.
- Start each instruction with a verb that instructs the reader to do something. Examples: “Open the valve…”, “Press the emergency button…”, “Tell your supervisor…”
- Use a numbered list when the order is important. Use a bulleted list (like this one) when the order is not important (for example, when the reader can choose between different options).
- Put notes and warnings at the start of the instructions, or before the list item to which they refer.
- Specify prerequisite conditions before the main body of the instructions. For example, at step 5 of some stocktaking instructions do not write, “Before starting the stock take, ensure that…” (Don’t mock, this type of problem happens with surprising frequency!)
- Don’t mix instructions with conceptual information. Present any necessary background information before the instructions.
- Write for your audience and use a level of detail that is appropriate to their skill level.
- Avoid lists of more than about ten steps. Break down long lists into two or more subtasks.
- Specify what the reader should do when the task is complete. The reader should not be asking, “Now what?”.
Yoi….I get it from my course in my lovely campus…It will be nice and we can use it as reference if we want to make some instructions.
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