How To Write A Procedure (Ultimate Guide + Examples)

From user manuals to lab protocols, clear procedures are the backbone of smooth operations.

But how do you write them effectively?

Write a procedure by clearly outlining the steps involved in a task or process. Keep your audience in mind and use simple, concise language. Break down the procedure into small, manageable steps and number them for easy reference. Use visuals, such as images or diagrams, to illustrate complex steps.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to write a procedure.

What Is a Procedure?

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Man at a work desk and large laptop computer - How to Write a Procedure
I made this image with AI – How to Write a Procedure

Simply put, a procedure is a step-by-step guide that outlines how to achieve a specific task.

It’s like a roadmap, leading users from point A (confusion) to point B (successful completion). Effective procedures are concise, accurate, and easy to understand for anyone, regardless of their prior knowledge.

As someone who had written dozens of procedures in different industries, the ease of understanding is paramount.

There are, however, more than one type of procedure you can write.

5 Most Common Types of Procedures

  1. Technical Procedures: Think user manuals for software or lab protocols for experiments.
  2. Business Procedures: Internal guidelines for handling specific tasks within an organization.
  3. Operational Procedures: Outlining routine operations like opening a store or handling customer service.
  4. Safety Procedures: Crucial instructions for handling hazardous materials or emergencies.
  5. Training Procedures: Step-by-step guides for employees to learn new skills or processes.

Now, let’s explore the 21 magic bullets for crafting compelling procedures!

21 Pro Tips for Writing Crystal-Clear Procedures

After years of writing procedures, let me share with you my 21 best tips.

1. Know Your Audience: Tailor Language and Complexity

Imagine explaining the procedure to a friend, not a robot. Ditch jargon and adapt your language to their level of expertise.

A user manual for engineers wouldn’t use the same vocabulary as instructions for assembling a child’s toy.

Clear communication bridges the gap between knowledge and understanding.

2. Define the Goal Upfront: Set the Destination

Don’t let users wander aimlessly. State the desired outcome at the beginning.

What should they achieve by following your procedure? Are they assembling a bookshelf, troubleshooting software, or mastering a new yoga pose?

Knowing the end goal provides direction and keeps users motivated.

Think of it as setting the destination on a road trip – clarity paves the way for success.

3. Chunk It Up, Conquer It: Bite-Sized Steps for Big Wins

Complex tasks can be daunting. Break them down into smaller, manageable steps, like bite-sized pieces of a delicious pizza.

Each step should be a clear, actionable unit, easy to understand and complete. Imagine each step as a mini-victory, leading users towards the final triumph.

Remember, small wins build confidence and momentum.

4. Be Number-ific: Numbering for Navigation and Clarity

Numbers are your friends! Numbering steps promotes logical flow and makes following the procedure a breeze.

It also helps users pinpoint where they might be stuck. Think of it like a roadmap with numbered mile markers – no more getting lost in the wilderness of instructions.

5. Visualize Success: Pictures Paint a Thousand Words

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially for visual learners.

Include images, screenshots, or diagrams wherever helpful.

Imagine a user trying to assemble furniture – a clear picture of the final product and each step would be invaluable! Visuals enhance understanding and make procedures more engaging.

6. Action Stations! Use Active Voice for Clarity

Replace passive voice with active voice for clear, concise instructions. Instead of “The button is pressed,” say “Press the button.”

Active voice is more engaging and easier to follow, like a personal trainer guiding you through each exercise.

It’s the difference between someone telling you what to do and someone doing it with you – active voice brings instructions to life.

7. Mind Your Tone: Be the Friendly Guru, Not the Drill Sergeant

Imagine explaining the procedure to a friend who’s eager to learn. Use a friendly, helpful, and encouraging tone.

A positive attitude goes a long way in making users feel supported and confident.

Remember, even complex tasks can be approachable with the right tone.

8. Proofread Like a Pro: Eliminate Typos, Impress Users

Typos and grammatical errors are like uninvited guests at a party – they crash the whole experience.

Double-check everything meticulously, and consider getting a second pair of eyes. Professionalism matters, and a polished procedure reflects well on you and your organization.

9. Consistency is Key: Maintain Formatting for Smooth Sailing

Don’t let your formatting, terminology, and numbering do the Macarena – keep them consistent throughout your entire procedure.

Consistency is like a steady rhythm in music – it makes things clear, predictable, and easy to follow.

Imagine navigating a city with consistent street signs – consistency fosters user confidence and reduces confusion.

10. Anticipate the Roadblocks: Be a Troubleshooting Superhero

Imagine you’re playing chess, thinking several moves ahead.

Identify potential trouble spots where users might get stuck. Provide troubleshooting tips or alternative solutions, like offering different paths to reach the same destination.

Be a superhero, anticipating challenges and empowering users to overcome them.

11. Embrace White Space: Give Your Instructions Breathing Room

Don’t cram text together like sardines in a can. Use white space generously to improve readability and avoid overwhelming users.

Think of it as giving your instructions breathing room, making them more inviting and easier to digest.

Imagine a crowded restaurant versus a spacious one – white space creates a calmer, more enjoyable experience.

12. Test Drive for Success: Real-World Feedback for Real Improvement

Don’t just write it, test it! Have colleagues or target users actually follow your procedure and provide feedback.

This real-world testing helps you identify areas for improvement before users encounter them in the wild.

Imagine testing a recipe before serving it to guests – feedback ensures your procedure is delicious and effective.

13. Keep it Fresh, Keep it Relevant: Update Procedures Like You Update Your Wardrobe

Procedures aren’t museum exhibits – they need to evolve.

Update them regularly to reflect changes in processes, software, or technology.

Just like a well-maintained garden, your procedures should stay vibrant and relevant to the current landscape.

Imagine updating your wardrobe for the new season – keeping procedures fresh ensures they meet current needs.

14. Feedback is a Gift: Embrace User Input for Continuous Improvement

Don’t be shy – encourage users to provide feedback on your procedures.

Use it like a treasure map, leading you to hidden areas for improvement.

Remember, the best procedures are constantly evolving based on user experience. Think about how it feels to receive feedback on a dish you cooked – it helps you make it even better next time.

15. Optional: Not Forbidden: Empower Users with Choice

If steps are not crucial, don’t hold them hostage! Label them as optional.

This empowers users to prioritize essential actions and customize their experience. Think of it like offering training wheels on a bike – they’re there for support, but not mandatory for everyone.

16. Celebrate Milestones: Applause for Progress and Motivation

Applause, please! Acknowledge successful completion of major steps to keep users motivated and engaged.

Imagine a runner reaching a checkpoint in a marathon – a little encouragement goes a long way.

Celebrate milestones along the way, creating a sense of accomplishment and keeping users moving forward.

17. Less is More: The Art of Editing for Clarity

Don’t drown your users in a sea of unnecessary information.

Avoid cluttering the procedure with irrelevant details that distract from the core steps. Focus on the essential information, like a chef using only the freshest ingredients to create a delicious dish.

I can’t say this enough: clarity and conciseness are key to effective procedure writing.

18. Accessibility Matters: Cater to Diverse Needs

Make your procedures accessible to everyone, regardless of ability.

Use clear language, consider alternative text for images, and offer the procedure in multiple formats (e.g., PDF, audio).

You care basically designing a content building with ramps and wider doorways – accessibility ensures everyone can follow your procedure with ease.

19. Tell a Story: Engage Users with Context and Purpose

Connect with your users on a deeper level by weaving a narrative into your procedure.

Explain the context and purpose of each step, making it relevant and meaningful

While this background shouldn’t fluff up your procedure or get in the way of the instructions, it adds flavor and makes the experience more enjoyable.

20. Search and Find: Make Information Easy to Locate

Help users find what they need quickly with a well-structured table of contents and clear headings.

Consider including a search function for longer online procedures.

Imagine navigating a library with a detailed map and helpful librarian – easy search tools empower users to find information efficiently.

21. Stay Human, Be Supportive: Offer Help and Build Trust

Your users are human, too.

Acknowledge potential challenges and frustrations, and offer support resources like contact information or FAQs.

Create a sense of community and build trust by being helpful and approachable.

Be a friendly guide on an unfamiliar journey – supportive communication fosters a positive experience.

Here is a video about how to write a procedure:

YouTube Video by Literate Me – How to Write a Procedure

Examples of How to Write a Procedure: From Plain Text to Perfection

Now that you’re armed with 21 pro tips, let’s put them into practice.

Below, I’ve put together three diverse examples of how to write simple and clear procedures:

Example 1: Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee (Basic Text Procedure)

Title: Craft Your Coffee Masterpiece: A Simple Guide to Brewing a Delicious Cup

Target Audience: Coffee enthusiasts of all levels, from beginners to connoisseurs.


  1. Gather your ingredients: Choose your favorite coffee beans (whole or pre-ground), filtered water, and your preferred brewing method (e.g., drip coffee maker, French press).
  2. Grind the beans: If using whole beans, grind them to a coarse consistency for drip coffee or a fine consistency for espresso.
  3. Prepare your brewer: Preheat your coffee maker or rinse your French press with hot water.
  4. Measure your coffee: Use 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee per 6 ounces of water, adjusting based on your desired strength.
  5. Add the coffee to the filter: Place the filter in your brewer and add the measured coffee grounds.
  6. Pour the hot water: Slowly pour hot (but not boiling) water over the coffee grounds, ensuring all grounds are saturated.
  7. Steep and brew: Follow your brewer’s instructions for steeping time (typically 3-5 minutes). For French press, gently press down the plunger after steeping.
  8. Serve and enjoy: Pour your freshly brewed coffee into your favorite mug and savor the aroma and flavor.

Example 2: Planting a Seedling (Visual and Engaging Procedure)

Title: Sprout Success: A Step-by-Step Guide to Planting Your Seedling

Target Audience: Gardening beginners and families with children.


Image: A photo of a child carefully planting a seedling in a pot.

  1. Gather your supplies: You’ll need your seedling, a pot with drainage holes, potting mix, a watering can, and a sunny location.
  2. Choose the right pot: Select a pot slightly larger than the seedling’s root ball.
  3. Fill the pot with potting mix: Leave about an inch of space at the top.
  4. Gently remove the seedling from its container: Loosen the soil around the roots and hold the stem, not the leaves.
  5. Dig a hole in the potting mix: Make it slightly deeper than the root ball.
  6. Place the seedling in the hole: Fill in the remaining space with potting mix and gently pat it down.
  7. Water your seedling: Give it a good soak until water drains from the pot’s holes.
  8. Find a sunny spot: Place your seedling in a warm, sunny location, but avoid direct midday sun for young plants.
  9. Water regularly: Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Monitor your seedling’s needs and adjust watering accordingly.
  10. Watch your little sprout grow!: Give your seedling some TLC, and soon you’ll be enjoying your homegrown plant!

Example 3: Troubleshooting Wi-Fi Connectivity (Interactive and User-Friendly Procedure)

Title: Wi-Fi Woes? Don’t Fret! Fix Your Connection in No Time

Target Audience: Tech-savvy individuals and users comfortable with basic troubleshooting steps.


Interactive elements: Buttons for common issues like “No Wi-Fi signal,” “Slow internet speed,” or “Device won’t connect.”

Troubleshooting steps:

For “No Wi-Fi signal”:

  • Check if your router is powered on and plugged in correctly.
  • Restart your router by turning it off and on again.
  • Check for loose cables or damage to your router or modem.

For “Slow internet speed”:

  • Move your device closer to the router for a stronger signal.
  • Close any bandwidth-hogging applications.
  • Contact your internet service provider to check for service outages or plan limitations.

For “Device won’t connect”:

  • Ensure your device’s Wi-Fi is enabled and connected to the correct network.
  • Forget and re-enter the Wi-Fi password on your device.
  • Restart your device.

Additional resources:

  • Link to your router’s manufacturer support website.
  • Contact information for your internet service provider.

Tools for Writing Procedures

Here are some tools that I use and recommend for writing better procedures:

Recommended ToolsShort Description
Jasper AIAn AI-powered content generation tool for creating engaging written content.
CanvaA graphic-design platform powered by AI
DALL-EAn AI program by OpenAI that creates images from text descriptions.
SoraAn AI program by OpenAI that creates videos from text prompts
Recommended Tools for Writing Procedures

You can get these tools through my affiliate links above or by going directly to the platform/app websites.

Final Thoughts: How To Write A Procedure

With these 21 tips in your arsenal, you’re ready to write procedures that inform, engage, and empower your users.

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