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1. Decide on who and why

2. Get to know the text

3. Put the best bit first

4. Slash everything else

5. Edit sentences

6. Put "if" before "then"

7. Demolish walls of words

8. Launch and land on the same name

9. Rest it then test it

6. Put "if" before "then"

Organise each sentence to make it work in a logical order. Then move the sentences around to put them in a logical order, too.

Get rid of "then" before "if"

It's easier to make the right decision about what to do when "if" comes before "then".

First things first, second things second

Often we want readers to do one thing then do another thing. Make sure you list them in the same order that you want them to be done.

Keep equivalent items parallel

When you have a bulleted or numbered list, make sure that the things in the list are all similar.

Example that's not parallel. The last bullet point is a new sentence, and not equivalent to the others.

Text that scrolls across the page is harder to read for:
* people with dyslexia
* anyone who speaks English as a second language
* It can also confuse some screenreaders, used by people who are blind

Try writing like a recipe

Many good cookbooks follow this format for recipes:

* title of the recipe
* why you might want to cook it
* the ingredients you need
* the list of things to do with them (the method)
* any variations

When you're writing a list of instructions, try writing them like a recipe.


Research for "if" before "then"

It's natural to write "Do this if you want to achieve that", or "Do this unless that applies to you".

Unfortunately, many people will obey the 'do this' part of the instruction without noticing the 'if' or 'unless' part.

More about this in: Dixon, P. 1987. "The Processing of Organizational and Component Step Information in Written Directions" Journal of Memory and Language, 26, pp24-35, Academic Press, Inc.

First things first, second things second

Adapted from 'Preserve temporal order' in Wright, P. and P. Barnard (1975). "‘Just fill in this form’ — a review for designers." Applied Ergonomics 6(4): 213-220.