Archives for posts with tag: Instructions

One of the things my Dad used to say to me when he was coaching me on how to take a good exam was this: read the rubric. He was the only person I know who regularly used the term.

It pays to read the rubric, or the instructions on how to do something, even if you think you know what you’re doing. If the exam tells you to answer any 4 of the following 10 questions, and they’re all worth the same points, then be sure to answer 4 of them and spend about a quarter on each one before moving onto the next. If it says you must answer all questions, answer them all if you can. If one question is more points than others, make sure it gets the right amount of time allocated to it.

Sometimes the rubric or instructions are simply too long to bother reading, like a car manual’s. This is why a lot of good companies also now produce a quick start guide, a much shorter document that gets you up and running and gives you the really key stuff.

Read the rubric. It gets you in the right frame of mind for the task ahead. Unless you’re absolutely sure what you’re doing, a quick double check never hurts.

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The passive should be discouraged…

Ah, the passive voice, our default way of writing. Why do we always fall back on the passive? ‘Dogs should be left on a leash,’ ‘mixing is to be encouraged,’ and so on. Notices and documentation seem to be drawn to the passive like moths to the flame.

The passive is impersonal, overly authoritative and stuffy. Which means, from a business point of view, it prevents sales rather than promotes sales. It’s not friendly or engaging.

The active voice is more involving, inviting, influential. That’s why marketers and sales people use it. It encourages action, which is why it’s called the active voice.

In the example above, better to say:

Mind your kids and the shrubbery will mind itself