Monthly Archives: April 2010

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. (The Procedure Series, Part 1)

When you think of the word “procedure,” you probably think of attorneys following courtroom etiquette or your HR department’s stuffy “Policies and Procedures” documentation. If you’re a tech writer, you might also think of the instructions you write every day. (“1. Click the File menu. 2. Click Print.”) A procedure, or a set of instructions, is all of those things, according to Merriam-Webster. But it’s much more, too. In fact, what you probably don’t realize is that you come across procedures all day long, every day. To see what I mean, read my fictional account of one woman’s typical day. See if you can spot the procedures our heroine encounters. …

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It’s a Process

Have you ever noticed how often we follow a process to get something done? Whether it’s tying our shoes or shopping for groceries, the process–that is, the series of steps, or the procedure we use to do it–is the journey that takes us from the start of the task to the end. When I clean the kitchen, for example, the first thing I do is run hot sudsy water in the sink. Then I grab the microwave plate, the coffee pot, and the spoon rest I keep by the stove and put them in the sink to soak. Next I wipe down the counter tops, clean inside the microwave, polish …

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Tech Writer Gets Exercised Over Elliptical Machine’s Manual

My husband and I just bought an elliptical machine. I used to work in fitness centers, so I knew how to use the thing without reading the manual, but I read the manual anyway, just because I like to snoop around other tech writers’ user guides. This tour through the manual proved instructive. No, I didn’t learn anything about how to use the elliptical machine, but I did learn something about writing procedures. Consider this sentence, which appears below a diagram of the elliptical machine in the manual: The crank arms can turn in either direction. It is recommended that you turn the crank arms in the direction shown by …

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