Good & Bad Instructions

In this post I will analyze two examples of instructions found online, one that represents a good set of instructions, and one that is not so good.

The good set of instructions is titled “How to Make a Kindle Paperwhite Protective Book Case” and can be found here: http://snapguide.com/guides/make-a-kindle-paperwhite-protective-book-case. As the title suggests, the instructions walk you through how to create a case for an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite out of a book. These instructions are good for the following reasons.
– The final product is clearly identified both at the beginning of the instructions and at the end.
– All of the necessary materials and tools are identified in a picture in the very first slide of the instructions. They are also clearly enumerated in the “Supplies” tab.
– There is no indication of how long it will take, but by simply reading through the instructions quickly you can determine that it will not be a very short process – the longest step by far will be gluing all the pages together.
– This is very obviously going to be a solo job.
– The steps are in a logical sequence – it progresses from collecting the materials, to cutting out the pages, then to gluing.
– The steps are clear and concise; there are only 8 slides, and each one states clearly what you should be doing.
– There are no safety warnings, but perhaps there should be, especially regarding the “sharp razor knife.”
– There are no age requirements, but again perhaps there should be because of the knife.
– There are sufficient visual aids included with each step

The bad set of instructions is titled “how to take screen shots” and can be found here: http://www.instructables.com/id/how-to-take-screen-shots. Using the same categories as above, let’s determine why these instructions are so awful.
– The final product is visible but not clearly identified; the first step shows a screenshot, but nothing identifies it as what you are trying to create.
– The materials listed are not necessary for taking screenshots.
– No tools are listed.
– There is no indication of how long it will take, but reading through the instructions makes it clear that it will not take long.
– This is clearly a solo activity
– The steps are in a logical sequence, but there are additional steps included that are completely unnecessary (notably: copying the image into MS Paint, and uploading it to the Internet)
– The steps are not clear at all. The writer of the instructions assumes that everyone will be using a computer that has a “prt sc sys rq” button on it. Many computers do not have this button, or have different text on it. Also, he highlights the “fn” button because apparently it needs to be pressed on his laptop, but that is definitely not the case for all computers. The steps are also ineffective because of the vast amount of misspellings and grammar mistakes (e.g. “ya i know never head of it but it is their!”)
– There are no safety warnings, but none are necessary
– There are no age requirements, but none are necessary
– There are visual aids, but they are not applicable to all computers (as stated above), so they are not useful.

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