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Back to Structure

What are instructions?[edit | edit source]

Instructions provide step by step directions for completing a task. This is in contrast to Descriptions, which simply define an object, mechanism, or process.

According to Markel (p. 522), instructions are "process descriptions written to help the reader perform a specific task".

When planning instructions, you must have first completed a thorough audience analysis so that you can readily identify your readers' goals. Then describe the processes needed to achieve these goals.

Introducing an Instruction[edit | edit source]

Introducing your instruction, you should tell your reader:

  • Who should do the task
  • Why they should do the task
  • When they should do the task
  • What safety measures they should take first
  • What items they will need to do the task

Writing Instructions[edit | edit source]

When you write the instructions you should use a numbered list. Obviously, put the first step first, and the last step last. Put intermediate stages, or "feedback statements" with the preceding step.

  1. Use the imperative mood. Start with a verb.
  2. Use the present tense.
  3. Use the active voice.