Home > Uncategorized > When is a step not a step?

When is a step not a step?

Have you ever created a nonstep? Here are three examples (highlighted in red).

Example 1


Example 2


Example 3


Of all the things you need to know to write useful procedures, the most important is the simplest. One step = one (human) action.

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  1. Wendy Hood
    January 21, 2011 at 10:57 am

    This is an instance where I have not experienced what you are describing, but I see the problem. I think the people who wrote those examples have given me directions to their house! A pet peave of mine. If you cannot give directions to a place, you should not be allowed to live there.

  2. January 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Wendy, I’ll sign the petition for that law.

  3. January 22, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I have definitely seen this before, and in many cases I think it is just a matter of poor editing. In many cases the nonstep is just providing more information about the previous step and they could be combined , but in some cases I think the nonstep could be reworded as “wait for x to happen” or even “note that x has happened.” Great post!

  4. January 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Becca, I’m with you. The action and the result belong in the same step. Usually, in fact, the result goes without saying. In Example 3 Step 4, for instance, it’s unlikely that anyone needs confirmation that “The Password Reset attributes appear.” People following these steps will be seeing these attributes on the screen for themselves. Unless you have reason to think that they’re wondering about the result (“Am I supposed to be seeing these attributes?”), forget about the “X happens” descriptions. Cut from action to action. Step 4: “Select the Password Reset attributes….”

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