Which style of giving instructions is more effective?

Subject: Which style of giving instructions is more effective?
From: Heidi Bailey <hbailey -at- ocztechnology -dot- com>
To: "ryan -at- clicksecurity -dot- com" <ryan -at- clicksecurity -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 00:51:14 -0800

Many of us were taught that you tell them what they're gonna do, then tell them how.
So in your example, "To restart the device, enter the following command:" is the correct form.

Same with things like cross references: "To learn more about Blah, see chapter 6, Blah Blah on page n."

This level of consistency is definitely good and desirable - the fewer sentence patterns a user has to churn through, the quicker they read and find what they need...


Technical Author
OCZ Technology Ltd
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Email: hbailey -at- ocztechnology -dot- com
Web: http://www.ocztechnology.com

Hi all,

I'm debating the merits of two different styles of commands:

"Enter the following command to restart the device:"

(followed by the command itself)


"Restart the device by entering the following command:"

(followed by the command itself)

I've been flipping back & forth on these for years; now that I am creating
a new documentation set, I'd like to be consistent, if that is even
possible (or desirable).

Any thoughts on the relative merits of each style? Situations when either
would be useful? etc.

Thanks for your input!


Ryan Pollack
Senior Technical Writer | Click Security

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