Imperatives in procedures?

Subject: Imperatives in procedures?
From: Jeff Scattini <jeff -dot- scattini -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 13:51:28 -0800

Hi all,

I'm currently writing a series of task-oriented documents for a
software application.

I learned that one should always put the user-imperative at the
beginning of each step:

1. Click Start on the toolbar.
2. Select the program you want and double click that program.

However, one of my product managers wants to bury the imperative in
surrounding text:

1. On the left-hand side of the toolbar, click the Start button.
2. You can from there, search for the program that you want and then
click that program to open it. The program window will then open.

I have searched the MS Manual of Style, (which is what we've used as a
starting point for our in-house style guide) and it states that you
can put the navigation before the imperative. Our in-house style guide
states to use the imperative first, but the in-house styles are less
than 6 months old and still fairly fluid.

I'm trying to get a sense if I'm picking a dumb battle or if people
have found that using the imperative is more or less usable for their
readers.

Thanks,
Jeff
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