Writing Assignment: Write A Simple Procedure

by Randy Murray on November 26, 2010

Even the simplest tasks are made up of many separate steps. But because we perform many simple tasks repeatedly and often without thing about what we’re doing, it is easy to forget that each step may be unclear and foreign to someone who has never performed this task.

Writers may focus on the sweeping and the great, but it is the mastery of the small that helps to build control and create depth and texture.

Documentation and training developers use a process called stimulus and response. Do this, this happens. It’s a very good place to start. The documentation developer must make the instructional steps very clear and eliminate any possibility for confusion or error. Even the most complex tasks can be structured this way, especially when subdivided into very simple component steps.

For today’s assignment, write a short set of instructions to be used to perform a simple task. Select your own task or use my example, but with your own steps.

Here’s My Example:

How To Light A Candle

Use the following steps to light a candle using a stick match

  1. Prepare the wick. Use a pair of scissors to trim the wick to no longer than ¼ inch or 5 millimeters in length.
  2. Remove the trimmed segment from the candle top.
  3. Open the box of matches and select a single match with your dominant hand.
  4. Close the box.
  5. Holding the box in your non-dominant hand, turn the box on the side to reveal the roughened striking surface. It is typically black or patterned and physically raised and sandpaper-like.
  6. Hold the match between your thumb and forefinger, leaving the match head clear of your fingers by at least one half inch.
  7. Place the match head against the striking surface at the furthest point from your body.
  8. Apply slight but firm pressure to match stick, but not so much as to break the stick.
  9. Drag the match rapidly across the surface, towards your body.
  10. As the match flares, raise it from the surface.
  11. Hold the match stick upright and allow the flame to settle.
  12. Move the lit match slowly towards the candle.
  13. Carefully place the lit match directly to the side of the candlewick. If the candle is in a container you may need to use your free hand, once you have released the box of matches, to turn the candle on its side so you can extend the match horizontally to the wick. Do not attempt to light the candle by lowering the match vertically as the flame will travel up the match and may burn your fingers.
  14. Once the wick has ignited, slowly move the match away from the flame.
  15. You may extinguish the match by either blowing across it or by waving it. Do so at a distance from the lit candle or other objects.
  16. Immerse the match head in water before disposal.

Caution: do not leave lit candles unattended.

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