Textbook fodder

Subject: Textbook fodder
From: Emily Skarzenski <71220 -dot- 341 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 26 May 1995 14:14:52 EDT

Paula Berger wrote:

> I am currently co-authoring a technical writing book and one of
> my co-authors would like your help.
<snip>
> So, please pass along your favorite usage issues.

I guess this isn't strictly a usage issue, but how about including guidelines
for procedural writing? By this, I mean all things you should know about writing
step-by-step instructions. I have yet to see a comprehensive list of guidelines
in any one place for writing procedures. I also find that most tech writers I
interview don't know how to write them correctly.

Off the top of my head, these are some things your list should cover:
- Naming procedures (first word of the title should be a participle)
- Never use future tense
- Each step includes only one action
- A step's consequences or results should be explained in that step
- Warnings & cautions go before the step (or before the text of the step)
- Notes appear after a step
- Using a "trigger" (the condition or action that prompts a person to use a
procedure)

Anybody have additions?

Emily Skarzenski
Manager, Tech Pubs
Fastech, Inc. - Broomall, PA
71220 -dot- 341 -at- compuserve -dot- com


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