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I think you've got a pretty good start already. I agree with your points on the
order of ingredients, the multiple steps crunched into one, and the prose style
of presenting the procedures (and sometimes even the ingredients!).
In a recipe with several distinct procedures or phases, for example, preparing a
marinade, preparing the main portion of the dish, and preparing a sauce, I like
to have those things separated by at least a blank line. Labeling the parts is
One of my biggest complaints about some cookbooks is the indexing. If you want
to see lots of examples of lousy indexes, look at a bunch of cookbooks. If I
have eggplant on hand and want to find recipes for using it, it isn't helpful if
the only index reference is to Golden Crunchy Eggplant Surprise.
I think writing a cookbook is a specialized form of tech writing, and I too
intend to write a cookbook some day.
Senior Technical Writer
TCF National Bank
jbaer -at- mailbox1 -dot- tcfbank -dot- com
If you can remain calm, you
just don't have all the facts.
Steve Shepard wrote:
> If this is to far off-topic, please delete this message rather than flame
> I'm a tech writer and I cook a lot. You would think a recipe in a cookbook
> and writing, say, software documentation would have some similarities. But,
> just as there is a fair amount of bad technical writing, cookbook recipes
> seem to be even worse.
> For example, beginning with a list of ingredients is great, but often they
> aren't in any order that makes sense. And if the prep and cooking
> instructions are numbered, they usually include several steps, not one at a
> time. When the instructions are in prose, I find I often have to read the
> paragraph two or three times to figure out what I am actually supposed to
> do. And when I am told "do this, but not that" I am never told "why" (place
> it in a plastic or ceramic bowl, not glass).
> >From the point of view of a tech writer, what would be a better way to
> present this kind of information.
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