Long lists of steps

Subject: Long lists of steps
From: Priscilla Butler <pb -at- PB2 -dot- WEBO -dot- DG -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 10 Jun 1994 10:12:02 -0400

> Karen Steele wrote:

> > How many steps do you/your department find acceptable in a procedure?
> >
> > I'm writing a long, complex set of instructions & keep breaking them into
> > smaller units.
> >
> > Somehow, though, they still seem awfully long & complicated.
> >
> > What rules do you follow?

>Tina Sansom wrote:
> One of my projects lately is documenting a long complicated installation of
> software, which includes weird network configuration stuff. The whole thing
> is about 30 pages, but I divided it up into smaller chunks which I called
> "tasks". I tried to keep the tasks around 1-2 pages. Some are a little
> longer, and some are shorter, it also depends on where the logical place is to
> break the procedure. But any longer than 2 pages, and the numbering is just
> too hard to follow (I think.) And too hard for me to keep track of.

I've encountered this issue in several recent projects. I agree that endless
steps are hard to follow and daunting for the reader -- but in my case there
was a long, uninterrupted sequence for some users and task-skipping for others.
I decided it was less confusing for readers to skip to "step 32" than to skip
to the section entitled "blahblahblah." The overall numbering gives a context
to the procedure that's difficult to emulate with words or headings, etc.

Any other thoughts??

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