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Organize Procedures Around the Reader's Needs

Organize Procedures Around the Reader's Needs

A key element you should keep in mind for writing good procedures is paying attention to the order in which you present information in your document. Prospects have shared stories of 100-page PDFs where policies are mixed with procedures in a confusing mess. It is important to separate policies and procedures. It is also important to organize procedures around the reader's needs.

If you understand the typical way readers interact with procedure documents, you can arrange the information more effectively and write a better procedure. Almost everyone who picks up a procedure requires the following information and wants it in the order described below. Don’t make them search around to get their questions answered.

Use this as a guide for organizing information in your procedure.

  1. Clear title. Is this the procedure or work instruction I need?
  2. Purpose. What is the procedure about, and why is it important?
  3. Who performs. Whose job is it? (Does this task apply to me?) 
  4. When to perform. When do I do this job?
  5. Requirements. Can I do this job: Do I have everything I need? (Tools, equipment, materials, knowledge, approvals)
  6. Overview of steps. What will I have to do, and in what order? 
  7. Detailed step-by-step instructions. How do I do each step?

The Content Overlay approach built into Comprose's Zavanta software is designed to help authors capture the right information and organize it how people typically need it.

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