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Job Aid: Instructions Template

instruction warnings

I was working on some home repairs over the weekend when I found myself in need of a product I had never used. Wanting to use it correctly, I read the instructions, and then I read them again. I then proceeded to read them aloud to my husband. As I did, I read each quote, bold, or numbered step as though I was an instructor at the front of the room teaching someone how to use the material. I recommend this if you are ever in need of a laugh. Here is an example of what I read:


This sentence fills me with questions. Is that really a warning? Why is warning bolded? What is “it” and why is it in quotation marks?

instructions template needed!Poor instruction writing is common. My theory is that it is a result of not having a standard to refer to as we write instructions. I like standards and I really like templates. To create consistency among our team, I created a set of instruction standards and an instructions template that serves as a quick template when instructions need to be written.

If you’re looking for instructions on how to use Microsoft Word as a Job Aid, we have that too!

Instructions Template

Below, you can see some quick and easy-to-follow standards for writing instructions. This structure can then become your instructions template.

Section 1 Title

Create a title that accurately describes the outcome of the step performed.

Section 2 Introduction

Write an introduction that provides contextual information as well as any assumptions in the instructions.

Section 3 Instructions

Instructions are concise, start with an action verb, and written in active voice. The following rules should be followed when writing instructions:

  • Direct objects are bolded. For example: Click Go
  • Quotation marks are only used for quotes.
  • Italics are used for image descriptions.
  • Underlines are used to call out important text or warnings such as do not do this.
  • Curly Brackets are used for variables. For example {your email address}.

Section 4 References

Cite any references used to create instructions

Download the instructions template using the above standards. Feel free to customize for you own use.

Do you use a instructions template? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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