Re: "It Ain't Literature, Y'know" (#740579)

Subject: Re: "It Ain't Literature, Y'know" (#740579)
From: Misti Delaney <mdelaney -at- SOFTWARE-SERVICES -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 7 Aug 1996 16:49:03 -0400

>I recently heard a friend (a former manufacturing engineer in
>the aerospace industry) say that he always writes instructions
>in narrative form and thinks that numbered instructional steps strike
>him as condescending. I find this position pretty strange because
>it goes against most of the conventions I've seen in practice.
>Has anyone else heard such suggestions, or does anyone else
>practice this method?

It seems to me that how useful it is to write instructions in the
narrative depends how they'll be used. If they're to be read all at
once, at some remove from the task, then a narrative may be fine.

If the instructions are to be used in a crisis, on the sweaty shop floor
by someone with both hands on a keyboard or machine, who just wants to
get this task out of the way and move on, the narrative would be
irritatingly hard to follow.

I tend to operate on the assumption that my readers would have something
more interesting to read than my manuals if they were sitting down read
for pleasure. YMMV.

Misti Delaney (Tucker)

Technical Consultant/ Communication Specialist
Software Services Corporation
Ann Arbor, Michigan
(800) 448-1568

My opinions do not in any way represent those of my employer.

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