Collaborative Instructions

The purpose of this assignment is to give you practice in collaborating on a document and breaking down a common procedure into easily understood and followed steps and writing clear directions.


Pick a technical procedure, activity, or process in your field. You challenge is to describe the process in a way that a novice reader could understand and execute the activity.

Students in previous semesters have described software, hardware, machinery operations, tools, and procedures.

You do NOT have to use one of these suggestions. Pick something your group finds interesting.  **You may not pick any topic that is related to anything illegal, related to alcohol, or related to basic car maintenance.** Your group must have your topic approved prior to submitting your instructions.

Prepare a set of directions for the activity. Include:

  • Title
  • Introduction (including safety concerns)
  • Description of Equipment
  • List of Materials
  • Directions
  • Troubleshooting section

You do not have to create a DOCUMENT. You can create a video, podcast, website, poster, pamphlet, brochure, etc. Be sure to discuss this with me.


An “A” Instruction Assignment has the following characteristics

  • clear written instructions for completing your chosen procedure accurate instructions (meaning can I follow them and get your intended result?)
  • obvious awareness of the intended audience, a novice user
  • follows Anderson’s guidelines for instructions
  • clearly demonstrates an understanding of the elements of document design (white space, font, spacing, graphics, bold, indention, format)
  • free of typographical, spelling, punctuation and grammar errors?

Use Anderson’s guidelines for instruction writing. Also, refer to the following list if you are having problems.

  1. “Our topic is TOO easy; we can’t write directions for it!”
    Assume your audience has NEVER done this activity before. (I require approval for Topics to avoid this problem.)
  2. “It would take us 30 pages to describe how to do this!”
    Use visual aids whenever possible. Be sure to follow the superstructure in Anderson.
  3. “There is only a few steps to our instructions!”
    Include only one direction in each step. Do NOT string together directions with “and,” “next,” or “then.” Be sure to read and follow the information on pages 656-661.
  4. “We have been looking at this so long that we don’t know what we are missing!”
    Have a friend do a quick usability test for you! Let them read your directions and try to perform the intended task. Ask them to ONLY do what the instructions say. You will find out where the missing pieces are very quickly!
  5. “Where are we going to find graphics?”
    Look through any clip art that is available to you or try to Internet. Just be sure to cite your sources. Using any images without proper citation is plagiarism. You may use footnotes, endnotes, or even provide the citation in a caption. Be consistent and careful with your citations.