Want to improve the title of your procedures? Let’s look at some ways to make the title more useful to the reader and also reflect the exact nature of the task.
The title of your procedure serves several purposes:
- Identify purpose – distill the purpose of the task into a single sentence, remove clutter, and prioritize what the objective of this procedure. This helps you as a writer to write more useful instructions, and also clarifies for the reader what they can expect. So, if the title of the procedure is used to create expectations, then develop the text to explain how to achieve this.
- Orient readers – this helps them understand where they are and confirms if they are in the correct part of the document set. If not, include links to other relevant procedure in the For More Information section at the end of the page.
- Starting Point – as the reader may be new to the company, using your product etc, they may not know which procedures are possible to perform. For this reason, identify all possible procedures on a master page and explain as concisely as possible the benefit and outcome of each one.
- Remove ambiguity – write from the user’s perspective. Avoid in-house terms. Remove acronyms. Also, use terms the user will understand. It’s fine to define terms or cross-reference to a glossary.
Two other ways to improve your procedures:
- Link to Other Relevant Procedures – avoid making the reader search for information, such as definitions or associated procedures. Your aim is to keep them on the page and help them perform their task at one sitting.
- Business Rich Screenshots – only include these if they add value. For example, if it’s not obvious where in the user interface a specific icon is displayed, then take a screenshot, crop it and highlight exactly where the icon is located. Don’t include screenshots unless they provide business information and clarify how this step in the procedure should be performed. A second example is a field that may be ‘hidden’ unless, for example, a checkbox is selected. Highlighting this helps the user use the product and also makes them feel you’re fighting their corner.
What else would you add?