Here are a few rules we routinely follow:
- Target the audience – Usually consumers haven’t used the product before, that’s why they’re reading the instructions.
- Use a simple style of language – This often means using the command form of the verb, known as the imperative: 'Switch on the computer' instead of 'The computer should be switched on'
- Split the information into manageable chunks – Readers waste time and make mistakes if the information they need is buried in long paragraphs and wordy sentences.
- Use section headers – Split the instructions into separate sections whose headings identify the purpose of each action.
- Use appropriate illustrations and labels – Illustrations are good at showing what things look like and their relative size. This can save words (and translation costs!) as well as illuminate the words that remain.