To write clear instructions, begin each step with a verb. Learn how to break down each step into a manageable unit, neither too small nor too large, and whether it's OK to repeat the same verb for several steps.
- When you were in sixth grade…and suffering through a boring grammar lesson,…you might have wanted to ask the teacher,…"Why does any of this matter?…"Why do I even need to know…"the difference between a noun and a verb?…"When will I ever use this stuff you're teaching me?"…But, now that you're a technical writer…working on a quick-start guide,…you know you need to understand the parts of speech,…especially when you're writing instructions.…It's a well known best practice…to begin each step in a set of instructions with a verb.…
After all, verbs are the part of speech…we use to show action.…It just makes sense because it supports users' efforts…to get something done.…Here's an example of how confusing it can be…when technical writers fail to begin each step with a verb.…These are the how to set up direct deposit instructions…from the quick-start guide…for new Kinetico Incorporated employees.…Scan through them for a moment.…You can also find a copy…of this guide in the exercise files.…
These instructions are really confusing.…
- Explain the difference between a conceptual guide and a procedural guide.
- Determine how to address a user when writing a quickstart guide.
- Recall a tactic that helps avoid too many notes.
- Identify the benefits of using plain language.
- Name the most important aspect of formatting.