Remember the Reader

Yesterday, I wrote about creating clear instructions. Today, I’d like to use this post to remind you why you need to write clear instructions.

Whenever you write out a document explaining how to do something, you need to remember that you’re writing with the intention to have someone follow your directions. It’s like the old camp game where you have to get someone to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without telling them that’s what they’re making.

Remember that another person will be following your instructions without you standing right there. This means you need to make sure everything makes sense to someone else. Without anyone else around, I’ve actually tried to follow my own directions step by step to see if I’ve left anything out. It’s much better if you can have someone who has never done what you’re trying to explain try to follow your directions.

The important point here is that a person will be following your directions. You more than likely won’t be there. The language needs to be simple, free of jargon. There needs to be plenty of white space for contrast. Images can be useful when used correctly. And a living, breathing human being will trying to interpret your writing!

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