Business Writing Tip #95—Describing the Steps of a Procedure

Often at work we have to write instructions. It might be handover instructions for a new staff member, or perhaps things you need your colleagues to do while you’re enjoying a well-earned holiday. Either way, you need to write out the details of what you want people to do in a way that is clear and easy to follow. Here are some tips and useful vocabulary you can use.IMG_0388

Use active voice

Send an email to Jennifer Coen inviting her to speak at the annual meeting.

Organise board meeting for March 2014.

Check my voicemail each day.

When writing instructions, use sequence words when it’s important for things to be done in order

First, agree on a date for the March 2014 meeting with the boss.

Next, check availability of board room and book board room.

Then contact board members for agenda items.

Or you can use numbering

  1. Agree on a date for the March 2014 meeting with the boss.
  2. Check availability of board room and book board room.
  3. Contact board members for agenda items.

Useful Vocabulary for Writing a Narrative

For those things that are first

Firstly …

The first step is …

First of all …

The first stage is …

To begin with …

… begins with …

Initially …

… commences with …

If something has to happen before something else

Beforehand …

Before this …

Previously …

Prior to this …

Earlier …

And if things need to happen at the same time

At the same time …

During …

Simultaneously …

When this happens …

While …

For those things that come next

Secondly, Thirdly etc., …

After this …

Next …

The next step is …

Then …

In the next stage …

Subsequently …

In the following stage …

Later …

Following this …

As soon as _______ has finished its work …

Then, for the things that come right at the end

Eventually …

… until …

Lastly …

… finishes with …

Finally …

… concludes with …

In the last stage …

The last step is …

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