RE: Use of Optional in instructions

Subject: RE: Use of Optional in instructions
From: "Boudreaux, Madelyn (GE Healthcare, consultant)" <MadelynBoudreaux -at- ge -dot- com>
To: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Sep 2009 18:15:16 -0400

Richard Combs wrote:

>We're telling people how to perform a task. As others have noted,
>the user who reads "Do A" and immediately does it may not be
>happy upon discovering that she just "accomplish[ed] X" when
>she really intended to accomplish Y.

Yes, and as another commenter noted, the heading or introductory text
tells the user what task they are doing, and they will skip those
sections.

>IMHO, the critical information -- the "lede," if you want to call
>it that -- amounts to this: "Dear reader, you now have a decision
>to make. Do you want to accomplish X? If so, ..."
...
>If an instruction has a qualifier, state the qualifier first so
>the reader can determine whether the instruction applies.

I am not assuming optional tasks in the cases I'm talking about. This
was the distinction I was looking for: "IF an instruction has a
qualifier..." You made no such distinction in your original post, and
your example didn't give it away.

>Sorry, but I thought this was TW101 since at least the 80s.

Oh, snap! This was awfully unnecessary, though I find it amusing that
you'd go there. Weren't we just talking about the perceived attitude
here?

I agree with you for optional steps, but for necessary ones, I think
I'll keep doing it my way. You've failed to convince me despite your
superior communication skills.

Have an awesome weekend, y'alls teckky writin' folks.

- Madelyn
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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: Use of Optional in instructions: From: Combs, Richard
RE: Use of Optional in instructions: From: Boudreaux, Madelyn (GE Healthcare, consultant)
RE: Use of Optional in instructions: From: Combs, Richard

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