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My initial training stressed the need to atomize the steps in a
procedure. In other words, each sentence should include one action.
However, I've noticed many people, most notably Microsoft, now including
several actions in a single step when that step describes how to navigate to
a menu option.
As a tech writer and as a user, I generally prefer the "atomized" approach.
When I'm installing new software, changing the setting on a VCR, etc., I'm
usually excited to see what the final result will be. For that reason, I
tend to skip embedded actions. The atomized approach helps prevent this
circumstance. The same thing goes for when I write a procedure. By writing
one action, then the result, I not only make the procedure easier to follow,
but I ensure that I don't forget to include all the actions. If the
situation warrants it, I'll write embedded actions, but that doesn't seem to
The atomized approach, however, requires more page space.
(Any statements made above are mine, and mine alone.)