Re: Imperatives in procedures?

Subject: Re: Imperatives in procedures?
From: Anthony Davey <ant -at- ant-davey -dot- com>
To: Jeff Scattini <jeff -dot- scattini -at- gmail -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2005 22:43:31 +0000

Hi Jeff,

Just how much you 'bury' it should depend on your audience. Are they at least familiar enough with Windows environments to know that double-clicking an icon/fillename will open it?

For instruction 1, however, although this is a short example, I prefer your manager's take. Any time I find an instruction such as: Double-click the Widget item in the Program group under File in the Menu, I always have to re-read it backwards to work out where it is I should be looking for the selection I'm being told to make.

But that's only my opinion.

Regards,
Ant

Jeff Scattini wrote:

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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References:
Imperatives in procedures?: From: Jeff Scattini

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