writing instructions

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Directions

Instructions are process descriptions written to help readers perform a specific task. When you write instructions, you use the same planning, drafting, reviewing, editing, and proofreading process that you use with other kinds of technical documents. In addition, you might perform one other task – usability testing – to ensure that the instructions are accurate and easy to follow.

Assume you are going to familiarize your colleagues with the process of creating a blog on a blogging platform such as WordPress or Blogger. You are to write a set of instructions that one can use to create a blog, upload a photo with a caption, and write a post with a link to another page. Set up your own blog and create a post that includes a photo with a caption and a link. Then write a clear set of instructions for someone who knows how to operate a computer but has not set up and posted to a blog. For more information, access the following document: Instructions.

Parameters

  • Designing a set of instructions is much like designing any other kind of technical document. You want to create a document that is attractive and easy to use. When you design a set of instructions, you need to consider a number of issues related to both document design and page design:
    • What are your readers’ expectations?
    • Do you need to create more than one set of instructions for different audiences?
    • What languages should you use?
    • Will readers be anxious about the information?
    • Will the environment in which the instructions are read affect the document design?

Format

  1. Introduction: Provides the preliminary information that readers will need in order to follow the instructions safely and easily. Every set of instructions is unique and therefore calls for a different introduction. Where appropriate, consider answering the following six questions:
    1. Who should carry out this task?
    2. Why should the reader carry out this task?
    3. When should the reader carry out this task?
    4. What safety measures or other concerns should the reader understand?
    5. What items will the reader need?
    6. How long will the task take?
  2. Step-by-step instructions.
    1. Number the instructions. For long, complex instructions, use a two-level numbering system.
    2. Present the right amount of information in each step.
    3. Use the imperative mood.
    4. Do not confuse steps and feedback statements.
    5. Include graphics.
    6. Do not omit articles (a, an, the) to save space.
  3. Conclusion: States that the reader has now completed the task; can also end with maintenance tips or a troubleshooting guide (a table) that identifies common problems and explains how to solve them.
  4. Length: Is approximately two pages with headers for this assignment. Remember that this is just a guideline

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