RE: Use of Optional in instructions

Subject: RE: Use of Optional in instructions
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Bruce Megan \(ST-CO/ENG2.2\)" <Megan -dot- Bruce -at- us -dot- bosch -dot- com>, "techwr-l List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2009 10:23:32 -0600

Bruce Megan wrote:

> An interesting debate has started at my workplace... is the following
> use of "optional" acceptable? If not, any suggestions on other ways to
> 1. Select the Tx Inhibit check box, to block the operator from
> transmitting audio (optional).
> A SME has put forth the argument that a user may not catch the
> (optional) due to not reading the entire instruction.

You don't need "(optional)" at all. You just need to rewrite the step as

1. To block the operator from transmitting audio, select the Tx
Inhibit check box.

This is how you should _always_ write procedure steps.

RIGHT: "To accomplish X, do A."
WRONG: "Do A to accomplish X."

There may be other problems with the wording, since I suspect "the
operator" is also the reader you're addressing. But I won't go there.


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -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 admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

Please move off-topic discussions to the Chat list, at:


Use of Optional in instructions: From: Bruce Megan (ST-CO/ENG2.2)

Previous by Author: RE: Cost per page metrics
Next by Author: RE: Use of Optional in instructions
Previous by Thread: Re: Use of Optional in instructions
Next by Thread: RE: Use of Optional in instructions

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

Sponsored Ads