Writing instructions

14 12 2008

At work, for the foreseeable future, I’ll be writing work instructions for security at the business I’m at. Writing instructions is always a tricky business. It’s technical writing. You have to relay step-by-step instructions. You have to do it in a way that’s approachable and readable enough for the security officer, and yet technical enough to impress the bosses who don’t actually have to do any of the work.

Luckily the security officers at the facility are pretty sharp, so you can use the 25-cent words that good technical writing shouldn’t use. But readability isn’t just about the words you use. Formatting is really important. The spacing between lines and after paragraph breaks, the fonts you use, the bullet points you use. All of these are surprisingly important in writing clear, concise instructions.

It’s always surprising how many people, even in the highest levels of management, are perfectly okay with a terrifying, blinding wall of text.

That’s where you come in. Stop it before it gets to that!