Replace numbers with paragraphs

Subject: Replace numbers with paragraphs
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Fri, 1 Nov 1996 17:25:49 -0600

Melinda C. reported a new approach in which she replaced
numbered steps with a heading that introduces the activity,
followed by a paragraph that contains the steps. Melinda,
if a statistically reliable sample of your audience likes
the approach, then you're probably safe. But it's easy
(with a small, nonrandom or nonstratified sample) to pick a
group who won't tell you what you really need to know.

My own opinion, unsupported by usability testing (and
certainly not with your audience) is that numbered steps
offer an unbeatable advantage: it's much harder to
inadvertently skip a step because it's easy to look for the
next number. In instructions based on a continuous stream
of text, I often find myself skipping lines (or looking
harder for the next sentence) when I glance back and forth
from the manual to the screen. YMMV.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
Disclaimer: Speaking for myself, not FERIC.

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