Re: Procedures - Must we use numbered steps?

Subject: Re: Procedures - Must we use numbered steps?
From: Peter Neilson <neilson -at- alltel -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2006 10:09:26 -0400

Cookbooks are indeed a fine example of a certain
style of technical writing. Even the earlier ones
(like my grandmother's 1905 Fannie Farmer) already
have a good pattern. Miss Farmer was scientific in
her approach to cooking, and taught the use of
level measurements at her famous Boston Cooking

It is certainly worth noting how well cookbooks deal
with multitasking, which is actually difficult to
describe in numbered steps and is better handled
by making use of the cook's judgment. "May be
prepared a day in advance," or (for a souffle),
"Serve immediately."

Indexes in cookbooks seem to range from the merely
adequate to the superb, and I recommend them as a
model for would-be indexers. My favorite is Rombauer
& Becker, circa 1975.

Steven Brown wrote:

We spend a great deal of time formatting numbered
procedures and the numbered substeps that are often
embedded within them. (How many times have we
struggled with Word's autonumbering?) It's become an
accepted practice that when you write a procedure, you
use numbers to show the sequence of steps.

But I wonder, is it really necessary to use numbered
steps at all? Gordon Meyer's Usable Help blog
recently discussed what techncial writers might learn
from recipe writers. While he doesn't raise the issue
of numbered steps, it struck me that recipes rarely
use numbered steps at all, yet somehow cookbook
readers are able to follow a fairly complex sequence
of tasks.

So I ask, have you ever considered writing procedures
without numbers?

WebWorks ePublisher Pro for Word features support for every major Help
format plus PDF, HTML and more. Flexible, precise, and efficient content delivery. Try it today!.
Doc-To-Help includes a one-click RoboHelp project converter. It's that easy. Watch the demo at

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- infoinfocus -dot- com -dot-
To unsubscribe send a blank email to techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to lisa -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.


Procedures - Must we use numbered steps?: From: Steven Brown

Previous by Author: Friday pun, was: Re: Copyright puntuation
Next by Author: Re: Recipies as technical writing?
Previous by Thread: Re: Procedures - Must we use numbered steps?
Next by Thread: Re: Procedures - Must we use numbered steps?

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

Sponsored Ads