RE: Procedures - Must we use numbered steps?

Subject: RE: Procedures - Must we use numbered steps?
From: Me Too <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2006 13:54:01 -0700 (PDT)

One reason why recipies usually don't need numbered
lists is time differences. Recipe writers know the
readers are likely to spend a long time between steps.
Suppose a step in a recipe says to mix egg yolks into
some batter. The readers will then spend several
minutes beating the mixture in the bowl. By the time
they get done with that, they will have forgotten the
number of the step they just performed. But they sure
remember what action they just took, so it's fairly
easy for them to scan down the list and locate the
words that fit the action in the recently finished
step. That tells them where they left off, and then
they just go on to the next step. In a technical
procedure, at least most of the ones I've seen, the
action in each step is usually performed fairly
quickly, so the users can more easily remember step

Also, in technical procedures, there's likely to be a
good bit of repitition in the terms used. For that
reason it's harder to differentiate steps by visually
sorting the action words, so numbers are more

It's not graven in stone to use numbered lists, but in
a technical procedure I think it is vital to give each
step something unmistakable that makes it easy to
remember which step was last done. I've seen
documents where each step instruction was followed by
a graphic, so even without numbers the user has a
memory key for his progress.

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RE: Procedures - Must we use numbered steps?: From: Gayla Bassham

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