Job Aid: Instructions Template

I was working on some home repairs over the weekend when I found myself in need of a product I had never used. Wanting to use it correctly, I read the instructions, and then I read them again. I then proceeded to read them aloud to my husband. As I did, I read each quote, bold, or numbered step as though I was an instructor at the front of the room teaching someone how to use the material. I recommend this if you are ever in need of a laugh. Here is an example of what I read:

Warning

This sentence fills me with questions. Is that really a warning? Why is warning bolded? What is “it” and why is it in quotation marks?

instructions template needed!Poor instruction writing is common. My theory is that it is a result of not having a standard to refer to as we write instructions. I like standards and I really like templates. To create consistency among our team, I created a set of instruction standards and an instructions template that serves as a quick template when instructions need to be written.

Instructions Template

Below, you can see some quick and easy-to-follow standards for writing instructions. This structure can then become your instructions template.

Section 1 Title

Create a title that accurately describes the outcome of the step performed.

Section 2 Introduction

Write an introduction that provides contextual information as well as any assumptions in the instructions.

Section 3 Instructions

Instructions are concise, start with an action verb, and written in active voice. The following rules should be followed when writing instructions:

  • Direct objects are bolded. For example: Click Go
  • Quotation marks are only used for quotes.
  • Italics are used for image descriptions.
  • Underlines are used to call out important text or warnings such as do not do this.
  • Curly Brackets are used for variables. For example {your email address}.

Section 4 References

Cite any references used to create instructions

Download the instructions template using the above standards. Feel free to customize for you own use.

Do you use a instructions template? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

 

4 thoughts on “Job Aid: Instructions Template

  1. Thanks, Heather. I’ll be covering the topic in more detail in a 1-day “Microlearning Makeover” workshop at the Association for Talent Development conference in San Diego on May 5. Having seen so many bad instructions in microlearning modules, videos, infographics, instruction guides, tip sheets, and job aids, I decided to offer a course on it!

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