RE: Step One. Done.

Subject: RE: Step One. Done.
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: Sarah Stegall <sstegall -at- bivio -dot- net>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2010 13:31:07 -0700

Sarah Stegall wrote:

> I'm editing a user guide written by a subcontractor who is (clearly) not
> a technical writer. I am consistently finding "procedures" which consist
> of only one step, such as:
> 1. Click Start>MenuOne>SubMenu to open the TargetApp window.
> I was trained to never have a procedure consisting of only one step.
> This sort of thing is a new experience for me. I'd really rather not
> rewrite 50 or so procedures, but how weird would it look to leave all
> these one-step procedures in place? Would it seem weird to un-number the
> single-step procedures, and leave all the multi-step procedures as they
> are (correctly numbered)?

The purpose of a procedure is to complete some task that fulfills a goal. It seems weird to me to have 50 or so tasks on the order of opening a window.

I suggest stepping back and considering whether these one-step procedures really help users complete a meaningful goal. My guess is they don't; they should be one step of many toward some higher-level task. Users' real goals aren't that granular and artificial.

That said, my FM template has a dedicated pgf tag for a one-step procedure, using a pair of angle brackets in place of a number, so the procedure looks like this:

To immanetize the eschaton:

>> Blah blah blah

It's used rarely.

Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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Step One. Done.: From: Sarah Stegall

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