Re: Procedural Steps

Subject: Re: Procedural Steps
From: Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 30 Oct 1996 15:02:54 GMT

In article <32779374 -dot- 53C2 -at- explorers -dot- com>, Kim Keegan <keegan -at- explorers -dot- com>
writes:
|> Eric J. Ray wrote:
|> ---SNIP---
|> > I've always assumed that each numbered step should
|> > reflect an action on the part of the reader.

[...]

|> I, too, personally object to numbered non-actions. I can't offer any formal
studies,
|> only my personal style. If your audience was novice and needed the RESULT
of an
|> ACTION described, as in your example above, I would write it something like
this:
|>
|> 1. Select some text.
|> The text will appear highlighted on the screen.
|>
|> 2. Click the B button.
|> The selected text will now be boldfaced.


Two points. First, sometimes items in a procedure are really actions
disguised by bad writing. For example:

1. Select some text.
2. The text appears highlighted.

...are REALLY are the steps:

1. Select some text.
2. Verify that the text is highlighted.

Second, I've seen some effective use of numbered lists where the numbers
become callouts for screen shots, code snippets, output stream examples,
and so on.

Bonus point three: I agree that in describing procedures, numbered lists
should imply an order of actions. In tutorial text, where there is a
sequence of events the reader must perceive to learn the material, this
sort of chicanery with ordered items is a little more palatable. It
clarifies things a bit for those absorbing an introduction to
complicated sequential information.

--
Len Olszewski My opinions; you go get your own.
saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com


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