Discussion question – “writing good instructions”

 Part 1:

Writing Good Instructions Please respond to the following:

  • Review the nine steps to composing instructions. Then, assess which is the most likely violation that can occur when writing instructions. Provide your reason(s).
  • Discuss and give an example when it might be appropriate to omit explanations from your instructions. Then, discuss the possible consequence(s) of the omission.

Part 2:

Write a substantive response (about 200 words) adding to one of the two student discussion post: (choose one)

a.  

  • Review the nine steps to composing instructions. Then, assess which is the most likely violation that can occur when writing instructions. Provide your reason(s).

I feel like one step that is easy to violate is “only one instruction per step”. I feel that is something people do subconsciously without even realizing it. For example “Turn left onto Pratt Street and then left President’s Street” is one such direction you might hear from your GPS.

In the case I provided, it might be to a driver’s advantage to have more than one step given. When driving it might be an advantage hearing more than one instruction in certain situations when the driver will need to make more than one move in a short period of time.

  • Discuss and give an example when it might be appropriate to omit explanations from your instructions. Then, discuss the possible consequence(s) of the omission. 

One such scenario where it might seem like a good idea to leave out a step is when the writer perceives the step not be important. 

An example is when operating dangerous tools such as a chainsaw. One might assume that the operator is already wearing the proper safety gear while using it. They might typically wear gloves, safety glasses, steel toe boots, and a hard hat. Instead, the writer should instructors the user to put one such safety gear at the beginning of the manual before writing anything about how to start the chainsaw. If an injury or death is accidentally caused due the misuse of the chainsaw, then the writer may be held liable for those injuries or death. 

b.  

Of the steps of writing instructions, I feel that the step asking to “Use short sentences” can often be violated. The reason I feel that it can often be violated is really dependent on the difficulty of the product use or assembly. I feel that the harder the instructions are, more detail will be required to explain certain steps.

Sometimes the writer of instructions may feel the need to omit explanations because of simplicity or what they may consider common knowledge. For example, when working on a hot tub, it is important to turn the electricity off before attempting to work on the main power consol. The writer may not feel the need to explain how the owner should turn off electricity and this could lead to problems. The owner may turn off all electricity to the house when they only needed to find the right switch on the circuit breaker. By turning off all electricity, they may cause issues with other systems in the house, such as their air conditioning, water heater (if it’s electric), or, depending on amount of time turned off, spoiling food in the freezer or refrigerator. It is very important to include as much detail as possible since it will lessen the liability of the writer.

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