Re: Principles for proceedure writing

Subject: Re: Principles for proceedure writing
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 7 Apr 2003 06:18:15 -0700 (PDT)

--- Fred Hone <frederickhone -at- yahoo -dot- com> wrote:
> Are there any specific rules that you follow when
> writing such literature and why?

My 'rules', if you can call them that, are first, the writer must actually DO the
procedure being written. This rule works well for software, though I think there are
some circumstances where this rule would have to be modified. For example, I
wouldn't want to DO a nuclear reactor core dump just to get the procedure right.
Imagine what could occur if I screwed it up! <g> Still, wherever possible DO the
procedure you're writing. If that isn't possible, witness the procedure actually
being performed and ask lots of questions.

Second rule, keep it simple. One action per step; one step per action. Use the
simplest, most direct language needed to convey what needs to be done. I don't care
if the language is active or passive as long as it meets the test, though I prefer
active voice in these situations.

Third rule, don't write down to your audience. The audience isn't stupid; they just
don't know how to do this procedure, yet, or they know another way to do it.

> Since most technical manuals use specific or complex
> language and terms in them do you use a readability
> formula to see if your wriitng is on 'target' or not?
> If you don't why not?

I don't use a readability formula, primarily because I don't know of any that are
accurate and broadly useful. This may be due to my own ignorance, but that is the
way I see it at the moment. That said, I feel I've had pretty good success with my
rules as outlined above.

Pontificatingly Yours, <g>

Tom Murrell
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com Last Updated 03/11/2003
Whether you're dead right or dead wrong, sooner or later you're dead. You might as well die doing what you think is right.

Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Tax Center - File online, calculators, forms, and more

Purchase RoboHelp X3 in April and receive a $100 mail-in
rebate, plus FREE RoboScreenCapture and WebHelp Merge Module.
Order here:

Help celebrate TECHWR-L's 10th Anniversary starting this month!
Check out the contests at
Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday TECHWR-L....

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as:
archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Principles for proceedure writing: From: Fred Hone

Previous by Author: Re: TOOLS: Please recommend e-newsletter services
Next by Author: Re: IE and spell check
Previous by Thread: Principles for proceedure writing
Next by Thread: Re: Principles for proceedure writing

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads