Conditional statements in instructions

Subject: Conditional statements in instructions
From: DURL <durl -at- BUFFNET -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 18 May 1998 12:35:43 -0400

Am I really the cheese standing alone here?
I don't think that conditional statements should precede the
imperative verb. (When done, press return.)
As a rule, I try to put the condition as a "desired result" of the
previous imperative. Example:
(step #). Press Alt + 4.
(some visual, like an arrow) You are done.
(step # + 1). Press return.
(some visual to indicate end of procedure)

I think that parallel structure in a list of steps is critical for
readability. Secondly, research shows that people scan down the numbered
steps and skip steps that don't identify the action immediately. (OK, so
the research consists of me noticing how I do things, enlightened by
my reading. Beats nuthin!)


Mary Durlak Erie Documentation Inc.
East Aurora, New York (near Buffalo)
durl -at- buffnet -dot- net

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