TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Procedural steps From:John F Renish <John_F_Renish -at- NOTES -dot- SEAGATE -dot- COM> Date:Thu, 31 Oct 1996 09:44:27 -0600
Eric Ray asks about numbering procedural steps, offering examples of the
procedures in numbered steps, the procedures with descriptions of system action
in numbered steps, and the procedures in running text. I've also seen
procedures with interlaced descriptions of system action in running text.
I don't know any authoritative studies (which no doubt exist) on this topic,
but the US Navy (tongue-in-cheek motto: a system designed by geniuses to be run
by idiots) has exceptionally effective training programs that pretty much
universally used numbered steps when I was one of the idiots.
Eric's numbered list examples contain the formula, "click the B button", which
should be simply "click B". When documenting system action as part of a
numbered list, I do it something like this (view in a fixed-width font), using
three points between a procedure and the description of system action and six
points between a description and the next procedure or paragraph:
1. Do something.
The system does something.
2. Do something else.
The system does something else.
This method clearly associates the system response with the user action and
also makes it clear that the system response is not a user action.
John_F_Renish -at- notes -dot- seagate -dot- com
My remarks do not represent any other person or entity