Really long procedures

Subject: Really long procedures
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Fri, 1 Nov 1996 18:28:53 -0600

Even the longest procedures tend to break down naturally
into "chunks" of intimately related steps. Probably the
best approach for a really long procedure is to define
these chunks, and use them as an outline for the smaller
steps along the way to completing each chunk. This has an
added advantage: the chunks make it easier for readers to
get an overview of the process before they begin following
the steps.

How you number the steps is probably less crucial than the
fact that you do number them (particularly important if you
need to refer back to previous steps). One great advantage
to using "section-based numbering" (e.g., 1.1, 1.2, 1.3,
2.1, 2.2 rather than 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) is that you give the
subjective impression of a manageable procedure: anyone who
sees "step 53" is likely to be more intimidated than after
seeing a series of 4-5 steps that together add up to 53
steps. Since this intimidation factor often interferes with
learning the procedure...

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


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