Procedure Writing: How to write the narrative

The following checklist describes how to write the narrative for procedures. Essentially, there are three things to be aware of: 1. The numbering of the steps 2. The description of the actions 3. The accuracy of the steps and actions in relation to the diagram. Later, we'll look … [Read more...]

How to write shorter procedures

Write your procedures so that reader can perform the task correctly. Sounds obvious, right? Most procedure writers make the mistake of adding too much information, and cluttering up the text, or leaving critical information out, so the reader can not perform the task. In this tutorial, let’s … [Read more...]

Identifying Where Procedures Are Performed

What do we mean by the location in procedures? What we mean is WHERE does the user perform this actual task. This might seem obvious but what can happen is: The writer assumes the reader will know where to perform the action. The place in the application, for example, a menu option is in … [Read more...]

Procedure Titles: 5 Ways to Improve

Recently, we looked at how much detail is required when writing procedures. Let's look at the title section of your procedure. This will be the first piece of content the reader encounters, so it's important to give it some thought.  You want to make sure it's accurate but also effective. For … [Read more...]

Screenshots in Procedures: Guidelines and Mistakes to Avoid

Should I add screenshots to my procedures? It depends for several reasons. For example, when writing SOPs, I prefer to add a high res process diagram at the end of the procedure. This shows it connections to other procedures and exchanges between actors. However, sometimes it helps to include a … [Read more...]

Procedures: How to Create Action Steps

Action steps are the individual steps performed in a procedure. Most procedures are performed in a sequence, however, you also need to consider other factors, such as multiple choices when performing a task, its secondary tasks, and other related procedures. To round off the procedure, it helps to … [Read more...]

5 Procedure Writing Guidelines

Want to improve your procedures? Today we look at five simple ways to sharpen your SOPs. Let's look at five terms frequently used in procedure manuals, instructional guides, and process design. 5 Procedure Writing Guidelines In procedures, the following five words are often used incorrectly. To … [Read more...]

Procedure Title – How to Write Smarter Headings

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, … [Read more...]

Writing Procedures: Okay v OK

In this procedure writing course, we look at different ways to improve your SOPs, processes, and instructions materials, so you have a consistent and effective writing style. Sometimes, it's the small things that make a difference. And a good example of this is when to do with OK, Ok, and Okay. … [Read more...]

Why Shorter Procedures Work Best

If you are new to writing procedures there can be a temptation to dress up the language of the SOP to disguise your lack of experience or make the procedure sound more ‘professional’. The opposite usually happens. The procedure sounds stiff, doesn’t flow, and is often unreadable. Instead, use … [Read more...]

How to Write the Benefits Section in Procedures

Before you start writing your procedure, give some thought to how this will benefit them both from a personal and business level. In other words, you can encourage the reader to use your procedures if you describe the ways their life will be easier if they follow the steps exactly as you have … [Read more...]

SOP Writing – How Much Detail Is Required?

How much information do you need to include in your SOP? One of the dilemmas for procedure writing is working out what level of detail is required when creating SOPs (standard operating procedures). Too little and the user can’t perform their tasks correctly. Too much and the documents seem so … [Read more...]

How to Use Numbers in Procedures Correctly

When writing procedures, should you write one or 1? It’s a small detail but how you use numbers in SOPs influences how others interpret your instructions and perform tasks correctly. In some situations, you should use one whereas in others 1 is the correct word to use. So, which one should you … [Read more...]

SOP Naming Conventions

What are naming conventions and why are they so important in procedure writing? If you’re responsible for writing SOPs, then you need to develop naming conventions that help you control how procedures are written, reviewed, published, and archived. Don’t worry - it’s not as difficult as it … [Read more...]

Warren Buffett’s 10 Steps To Better Report Writing

Buffett writes like he speaks. Direct, immediate and without pretension. “For more than forty years, I’ve studied the documents that public companies file. Too often, I’ve been unable to decipher just what is being said or, worse yet, had to conclude that nothing was being said. If corporate … [Read more...]

How to Prioritize SOPs When Controlling Documents

What’s the simplest way to control numerous SOPs documents, especially if you're managing a team across different business units? How to Prioritize SOPs? Keep It Simple My first suggestion is to keep it simple. I’ve used some very complex Document Control software. The problem is that larger … [Read more...]

Step 10 – How to Implement Procedures

photo credit: Jinho.Jung The best way to implement policies and procedures is to ensure they are well-written, useful, and simplify things for the reader. Use this checklist to ensure that your SOPs get implemented correctly. Sell the Sizzle Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. All they see is … [Read more...]

Stage 9 – Publishing the Standard Operating Procedures

photo credit: redspotted Yesterday we looked at the steps involved in getting the procedures signed-off. Once the documents are signed off, we can now look at how to publish the SOPs. This process is relatively simple... if the correct guidelines are in place. But guidelines I mean naming … [Read more...]

Stage 8 – Signing-off the Procedure

photo credit: striatic We’ve now completed seven stages in the Procedure writing process. From gathering the requirements, interviewing the Subject Matter Experts, drafting the procedures and getting them reviewed. This takes us up the stage where the documents must be signed off by the Project … [Read more...]

Stage 7. How to Test Standard Operating Procedures

photo credit: Charles & Hudson In Part 7 in our series on writing Standard Operating Procedures we look at how to test the Procedures. How to Test Procedures The first question is who tests the procedure? One of the risks of testing your own procedure is that you’ve become snowblind to … [Read more...]