Writing Instructions

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Of all the types of business writing that exist, arguably none is as critical as writing instructions. The nature of the instructions you're drafting may vary from project to project. It may be that you're tasked with writing instructions for customers looking for your store. Perhaps you're writing instructions on how to use your company's products. Needless to say, these are crucial duties for your organization, for a botched job can cost you thousands and thousands of dollars.

The number one goal then when writing up instructions is accuracy. You want to ensure that no opportunity exists for your clients, co-workers, or supervisors to misinterpret your prose. To take this possibility to its logical extreme, imagine what would happen if you accidentally substituted one compound for another in a list of precautions for a chemical lab? Imagine you're a medical worker who fails to clearly indicate which symptoms are present in a patient and the drugs to which he or she is allergic.

Tips for Writing Instructions

One way to safeguard against these potential mistakes is to read over your work several times to see if any alternative interpretations might be made. Next, check to see if the order of your instructions is appropriate. It may turn out that you've written down everything properly but done so in the wrong sequence. Remember, you may have performed whatever task you're writing on a million times, but your audience may be wholly unfamiliar with it.

A second way to guard against possible errors is to have one or two other workers look over your writing. Try to choose people whose editorial opinions seem most trustworthy. In most offices, one or two employees usually emerge as the best writers and editors, so take your work their way once you're through. If you're the boss, do your best to make sure that these employees are the ones writing your most important documents.

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