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HomeRants > How to organize a step-by-step procedure. > Full object model of a procedure.



 

Full object model of a procedure

Here's a diagram of a thorough-going pattern for a procedure.  Probably more than you need. So you might start here, and throw out unnecessary components. Of course, at that point, you might decide: Now I need to add some other elements!

So this pattern is not universal. 

It's just a pattern that I have found useful in a lot of circumstances, when trying to sort out legacy documents, or craft procedures out of a tangled mess of notes left by several generations of writers, each annotating the other. 

The corporations that seem to need something as complex as the full model are companies that produce huge, complex products, often integrating subcomponents from half a dozen or more other manufacturers, resulting in inconsistency, redundant features, special twists and turns, ambushes, and deadends. In those circumstances, you have a lot to introduce, and plenty to explain.

I hope you don't have to write procedures in that environment.  If you're describing easier tasks, you'll want to pick and choose components, creating a model that works for your audiences.  Let us know what you come up with. (You'll see some folks' variations after the uber-diagram).

Resources:

Probe your audiences--gently.

Help (A chapter from Hot Text: Web Writing that Works. PDF: 995K, or about 18 minutes at 56K).

Alternative pattern: Job aid

Comment: Takes two key components, and uses those, leaving out introductions and explanations. This pattern could co-exist with the full model, because it reuses a few of those components.

Alternative pattern (simple product, complex concepts)

Comment: This pattern works OK for simpler information, though it is a bit top-heavy, frontloading info in the intro, rather than appending it to the individual steps. Note that these folks require some kind of an introduction, but leave it open to the writer to pick which subcomponents to use.

 

Let me see if I can remember all those steps.

 

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