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The Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
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Section 2.8.3

Instructions and Procedures

A procedure is a series of steps followed in a regular, definite order to achieve a specified result. The goal of a written procedure is to enable a user to carry out an action with which he or she might not be familiar. Procedures save the writer time, transfer expertise, ensure consistency, and prevent errors and accidents. Procedures may amount to a single sheet for assembling a table, a lengthy manual of operating routines for a nuclear reactor, or a computer manual full of routines for using an operating system like UNIX or DOS.

A procedure is generally organized as follows:

An important aspect of procedures is their extensive use of chunking and step-syntax. Chunking is the sorting of parallel elements into prose sentences or elements that are easily located on the page. Step-syntax is the use of special imperative sentences to identify the action in each step of the procedure. A typical imperative begins with the action first, as follows:

Cut the end of the cable, as shown in Figure 2-1, removing any sharp wire ends that protrude from the jacket.

Safety Elements in Procedures

Most instructions contain one or more safety elements. A warning is given before any step that may present an element of harm to the individual performing the step. A caution is given before any step that could present some risk to equipment. A note is included before or after any step that may need some additional explanation.

The Step-Syntax Section of a Procedure

Assembling the Interference Cable Seal

Warning: Do not work with live cables, which may electrocute you.

  1. Ensure that the cable is not attached to a power source.
  2. Determine whether or not the optional seal boot will be used and assemble the seal parts (parts list, Section X).
  3. Cut the end of the cable, as shown in Figure 2-1, removing any sharp wire ends that protrude from the jacket.
  4. Caution: Do not use lubricants that may degrade the cable sheath.

  5. Apply a light coating of silicone compound, such as DC-55, to several inches of the cable.
  6. Slide the retaining washer over the cable and push it back out of the way.
  7. Slide the boot (if used) over the cable and push it back out of the way.
  8. Slide the seal packing onto the cable.
  9. Thread the cable the desired amount through the housing bore and out the small opening at the end of the housing.
  10. Lubricate the outer surface of the packing with silicone compound.
  11. Note: If the packing has been lubricated, the next step is easily accomplished with thumb pressure only. If additional pressure is required, use a blunt rod to squeeze the packing into the housing.

  12. Gently squeeze the packing and slide it into the annular space of the housing bore.
  13. Slide the boot (if used) and retaining washer into place and fasten them with the retaining ring.
  14. Prepare the end of the cable for making electrical connections.

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