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What are instructions?
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
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
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.
- Use the imperative mood. Start with a verb.
- Use the present tense.
- Use the active voice.