Procedure Writing: Principles and Practices

Procedure Writing: Principles and Practices


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Now in its second edition, Procedure Writing... remains the definitive reference for the procedure writer. Whether you write business procedures, procedures for ISO 9000 compliance, nuclear power plant procedures, or safety procedures, Procedure Writing... will help you write them quickly, accurately, and understandably.

Procedure Writing presents the principles that underlie effective procedures and explains these principles in easy-to-understand terms. By telling you how procedures should be written and why it is important to write them that way, Procedure Writing can guide novice writers through an often difficult and frustrating process - and can teach experienced procedure writers a new trick or two.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780780353688
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 01/15/1999
Edition description: 2ND
Pages: 243
Product dimensions: 4.72(w) x 11.02(h) x 0.79(d)

Table of Contents

Preface to the second edition
Preface to the first edition


1 An Introduction to Procedures
1.1 Procedures and why they are important
1.2 The importance of a writers' guide
1.3 About this book

2 The Reading Process
2.1 A model of the reading process
2.2 Applying the model to procedures

3 The Writing Process
3.1 Planning
3.2 Investigating
3.3 Organizing
3.4 Writing the draft
3.5 Reviewing and revising
3.6 Testing
3.7 Maintaining


4 Introduction: Writing Basic Steps

5 Step Syntax
5.1 Follow the rules of English grammar
5.2 Essentialize
5.3 Write steps as imperative sentences
5.4 Write steps as positive commands
5.5 Break long sentences into several shorter sentences
5.6 Use punctuation that conforms to standard American English usage

6 Vocabulary
6.1 Use words consistently within and among procedures
6.2 Use short, simple words that are common in standard American English
6.3 Avoid words that may be misunderstood
6.4 Restrict the use of abbreviations and acronyms

7 Level of Detail
7.1 Write procedures at a level of detail that is appropriate for the procedures' intended
7.2 Use a format that allows you to present supplemental detail without cluttering the

8 Numerical Information
8.1 Differentiate between the use of Arabic and spelled-out numbers in a consistent,
useful fashion
8.2 Include units of measure with numerical information whenever appropriate
8.3 Do not specify numbers at a greater precision than can be read from instrument panel
8.4 Specify ranges rather than error bands
8.5 Avoid requiring users to make calculations in procedures; if a calculation is required,
use a calculation aid


9 Introduction: Format and Organization

10 Step Format
10.1 Use type that is readable in the worst conditions of expected use
10.2 Use white space according to the conventions of graphic design
10.3 Use ragged-right margins

11 Placekeeping
11. 1 Provide placekeeping aids to help users track their progress through the procedure

12 Emphasis Techniques
12.1 Consistently use emphasis techniques to code and highlight information

13 Procedure Organization
13.1 Organize procedures in a hierarchical, logical, consistent manner and reveal that
organization to users through the use of headings
13.2 Use step numbering and structure that provide useful information to users and is not
overly complex
13.3 Use appendices and attachments to present information that would otherwise be
difficult to integrate into the procedure
13.4 Include adequate identification information in procedures


14 Introduction: Writing Complex Steps

15 Lists
15.1 Use lists to group and organize information

16 Conditional Statements
16.1 Use conditional statements to present simple conditional information in procedures
16.2 Use conditional terms accurately, appropriately, and consistently
16.3 Use the conditional terms AND or OR separately to combine conditions when
necessary, but avoid complex sequences of
conditional terms

17 Logic Tables
17.1 Consider using logic tables to present complex conditional information
17.2 Simplify the format of logic tables

18 Warnings, Cautions, and Notes
18.1 Include warnings and cautions in procedures
18.2 Ensure that actions do not appear in warnings and cautions
18.3 Warnings and cautions must identify a single hazard, the consequences of the
hazard, and any critical time constraints
18.4 Present warnings and cautions in a unique format
18.5 Place warnings and cautions on the same page as and immediately before the step to
which they apply
18.6 Use notes to present supplemental information

19 Cross-References
19.1 Use explicit cross-references whenever possible
19.2 Minimize cross-references
19.3 Write cross-references that provide all necessary information in a usable, consistent
19.4 Pay special attention to cross-references and cross-referenced material whenever
documents are revised or updated

20 Special Types of Steps
20.1 Use an appropriate format for nonsequential steps (i.e., continuous steps, time-
dependent steps, and concurrent steps)
20.2 Use a unique format for verification steps
20.3 Minimize equally acceptable steps; when presenting these steps, do so using a
unique format
20.4 Include immediate actions in procedures when necessary

21 Flowcharts
21.1 Consider flowcharts for procedures that contain many decision points
21.2 Depict the logical flow only
21.3 Use standard flowchart symbols
21.4 Design the flowchart so that its organization conveys the logic of the procedure
21.5 Use flowlines effectively


22 Some Closing Themes
22.1 The nature of writing Cookbook versus craft
22.2 Correctness
22.3 Consistency
22.4 Don't blame everything on the procedure
22.5 Writer knowledge versus user knowledge

Appendix: Example Styles




What People are Saying About This

Randy Mumaw

... an effective primer on procedure writing. The extensive set of examples sets it apart from many other 'human factors guidelines' types of documents.

Robert M. Schumacher

Procedure Writing is a book that all technical writers who care about their readers should have. The authors bring together the theory and the research in a collection of fields directly related to the everyday practice of writing. In this second edition, they have provided more varied examples, given even richer explanations, and, most importantly, added now topics such as decision tables. The authors guide everyone from the expert to would-be writers through the tangle of ad hoc rules and misconceptions to create a sort of 'Elements of Style for Procedures.' In short, the instruction is clear, usable, and practical. It is a pleasure to read.

David Farkas

This is a valuable book. It offers a complete set of guidelines for the busy procedure writer and backs them up with careful summaries of the research and professional literature. It represents years of work by some very sharp and experienced people. It will be a real help for procedure writers.

Linnea Wahl

The text provides an excellent review of basic technical communications principles, accurately incorporates the latest information from communications research, and proposes techniques for writing procedures by applying both basic and advanced principles that my experience suggest will work. I plan to add this book to my library.

John Rohrer

This book provides the most comprehensive set of guidelines for standardizing the presentation of procedures available today. No procedure writer should be without it.

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