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Introduction to Instruction
Sets
Dr. Will Kurlinkus
University of Oklahoma
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Next Week
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2 Other Group
Presentations
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Origami Balloon
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Considering Topics
Technical, Accessible, Photographable, Brief

What are you expert at? Something at your job?


+ Nine Instructions Set Tips
1.  Teach: Users take things you say more seriously if you educate them on WHY
you are telling them to do something in a particular way.
n  Do this, not that because x, y, z.

2.  Steps: Break down your instructions into multiple stages with steps within
them.
n  Stage 1. Selecting a good place to set up a tent. Stage 2. Prepping the tent.
n  Generally, you want to think about each step as having only 1 action.

3.  Warnings: Place tips and warnings throughout the document where needed.
Put them before the step they are giving advice or warning about. Think of
scenarios where things went wrong for you the first time you did this.

4.  Bullets and Numbers: Use bullets and numbers properly. Bullets (and do use
actual bullets, not hyphens) are used when the order of each thing is not
important. Numbers are ordered lists—they highlight that steps must be
read and performed in a chronological order.

5.  Feedback: Consider all the sensory cues that are necessary for the user to
know they are doing a good job. What message will appear? What should I
see? What noise should I hear? What pop should I feel? What should I smell?
n  “At this point it should look like x.” “It’s ok if it smells like burning plastic.”
n  The same thing goes for negative feedback: What shouldn’t I see, hear, feel, and
smell? “If it is on fire, run.”
+ Nine Instructions Set Tips
6.  Precise: Be as precise and descriptive as possible in terms of
measurements and any other commands to your user. Give time
measurements in terms of how long each step should take and even the
project as a whole. Use a ruler in your photos to show how big
something should be. Use precise language.

7.  Images: Highlight the action—not just the completed step. Show people
doing things. Be sure that your images actually show what you need
them to show (close ups or wide shots or both). Try to make your
objects look 3-dimensional rather than flat. Label the important parts of
your images and give your image a figure number and descriptive
caption.

8.  Visual Hierarchy: Remember to use headings, subheadings, and other


visual elements that make your text scannable and easy to use.
n  Think of using San Serif (Arial, Century Gothic, etc.) for headings
n  Reduce font size and change color for subheadings
n  Use color wisely (see next slide)
n  Think about using textboxes, columns, tables and other visual layout forms.

9.  Formal Parts: There are 5 formal parts of the instruction set. Including:
Intro, List of Materials, Steps, Trouble Shooting, and Glossary.
n  Review the textbook chapter for a formal list of what should go in each part.
+Instructions: Formal Parts
1.  Intro and Background
n  What will these instructions help me do?
n  Is there anything I need to know to be able to use these instructions effectively?
n  Includes subject, purpose of procedure, intended readers, scope, organization, conventions, motivation,
and safety.
n  How long will this take? How difficult or easy is this?

2.  List of Materials


n  Before she begins to follow the set of instructions, is there certain information that your reader needs to
collect? In order to write a lab report, for instance, your reader will have to have completed an
experiment—are there special things to pay attention to/collect while performing the experiment?
n  Where do I gather materials from?
n  Are there tools I need? What are they and what do they look like?

3.  List of Steps and Sub-Steps


§  Once I’m ready to start, what exactly do I do?
§  Written for scanning, rapid comprehension, action-oriented headings, branching steps clearly
represented, notes on what might go wrong on specific steps.

4.  Trouble Shooting


§  Something isn’t working correctly. What do you predict it is and how do I fix it? Often done well as a
Q&A.

5.  Glossary of Key Terms


n  Key terms that you might have to use that I might not know.
n  Key websites and other sources of information that might prove useful.