Turn paragraphs into steps

Have you ever been frustrated by instructions that aren't easy to follow? Don't frustrate your web users. Realize when you should be giving instructions. I see far too many pages that are paragraphs of facts when what people really want are instructions on how to do something. If your site visitors are asking, "How do I . . . ?" give instructions.

In Figures 9-16 and 9-17, on how to prepare concrete for a particular type of bonding, notice how I've turned three dense paragraphs into sections on why, what, and how. The suggested revision with headings and lists is slightly longer than the original, but it is likely to be much more effective.

Numbered lists for instructions help both site visitors and writers. They help site visitors

• see how many steps there are

• check off steps (mentally, even if they can't write on the screen)

• read one step, do it, and find the next easily when they come back to the web page

• do the steps in the correct order

• do all the steps (without inadvertently missing a step)

Surface Preparation for Strain Gage Bonding

Surfaces Requiring Special Treatment


Concrete surfaces are usually uneven, rough, and porous. In order to develop a proper substrate for gage bonding, it is necessary to apply a leveling and sealing precoat of epcxy adhesive to the concrete. Before applying the precoat, the concrete surface mus! be prepared by a procedure which accounts for the porosity of this material.

Contamination from oils, greases, plant growth, and other soils should be removed by vigorous scrubbing with a stiff-bristled brush and a mild detergent solution. The surface is then rinsed with clean water. Surface irregularities can be removed by wire brushing, disc sanding, or grit blasting, after which all loose dust should be blown or brushed from the surface.

You cannot easily tell that the page has both "why" and "how" information.

The second and third paragraphs give instructions, but they don't read like instructions.

The next step is to apply Conditioner A generously to the surface in and around the gaging area, and scrub the area with a stiff-bristled brush Contaminated Conditioner A shouid be blotted with gauze sponges , and then the surface should be rinsed thoroughly with clean water. Following the water rinse, Ihe surface acidity must be reduced by scrubbing with Neutralize? 5A , blotting with gauze sponges, and rinsing with water. A final thorough rinse with,dislilied water is useful to remove the residual traces of water-soluWa cleaning solutions. Before precoatinq, the cleaned

People who are following f Jthe instructions may be surprised to get this far before learning that they need distilled water.

Figure 9-16 It's hard to find the steps in paragraphs like these, and most people won't try. www.vishay.com

Numbered lists help writers

• make sure they have listed all the steps

• put the steps in the correct order

• check that the procedure works well (by reviewing or trying out the steps)

• save their web users from potentially disastrous mistakes of doing steps in the wrong order

Preparing Concrete for Strain Gage Bonding Why must concrete be specially prepared?

Concrete surfaces are usually uneven, rough, and porous To develop a proper substrate for gage bonding, the concrete must have a leveling and sealing precoat of epoxy adhesive Before applying the precoat, you must first prepare the concrete surface with a procedure that accounts for the fact that it is porous.

What do I need to prepare concrete for precoating?

You need

• Conditioner A

• gauze sponges

• a stiff-bristled brush

• a mild detergent solution

• distilled water

• a wire brush or a disc sander or a grit blaster

How do I prepare concrete for precoating? Clean the surface t. Re m ove conta m in at on fro m o ils, greases, plant growth . an d other soils by scrubbing vigorously with a stiff-bristled brush and a mild detergent solution.

2. Rinse the surface with clean water

3. Remove surface irregularities by wire brushing, disc sanding, or grit blasting

4. Blow or brush all loose dirt from the surface Apply Conditioner A

5 Apply Conditioner A generously to the surface in and around the gaging area.

6. Scrub the area with a stiff-bristled brush.

7. Blot contaminated Conditioner A with gauze sponges.

8. Rinse the surface thoroughly with clean water. Apply Neutralizer 5A

9. Scrub the surface with Neutralizer 5A to reduce the surface acidity

10 Blot with gauze sponges

11 Rinse with clean water

12 Rinse again with distilled water to remove the residual traces of water-soluble cleaning solutions.

Figure 9-17 Think of recipes when you are giving instructions - even for information as technical as bonding to concrete surfaces. Isn't this much easier to use than the original in Figure 9-16?

In paragraph form, it's just too easy to forget a step and never realize that you've done that. It's just too easy to put down the steps in haphazard order and create problems for people who don't realize they should have done something first until it's too late.

©I broke the information into "why," "what," and "how."

The bulleted list tells people f y^J what they must have ready so that they aren't surprised while completing the steps.

I divided the 12 steps into ( yyj 3 logical groups. A 12-step list with no breaks is long.

/^S I reorganized sentences so f y^J that the action verb is always at the beginning of the step.

Each step is one action.

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