Re: "It Ain't Literature, Y'know"

Subject: Re: "It Ain't Literature, Y'know"
From: Kathryn Whitver <kathrynw -at- MICROWARE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 19:46:51 GMT

Friedlander_Tori <torif -at- ksl -dot- co -dot- il> wrote:

> Pound the nail into the wall with a hammer.

> Using a hammer, pound the nail into the wall.
> or
> Using columnar spacers, place the ....

Your coworker has a good case for the structure he's using.
A long-standing tradition in hardware procedural writing is
to make the instruction task-oriented. The reader first
selects the tool, then uses the tool to perform a task. So the
instruction is written in the same sequence the task is

A more liberal (modern?) approach is to assume the
reader knows their tools and simply state the task:
"Pound the nail in the wall." As an ex-technician and
reader of hardware manuals, I personally prefer this
style. Telling me which tool to use was irritating and
condescending. An alternate approach (my favorite)
is to precede the set of instructions with a list of tools
needed for the procedure.

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