Organization: The Grouping of Process Information

In past newsletters, we have covered Syntax, Vocabulary, Complexity, Numbers, Format, and Style from our list of writing concepts. This month we pick up with Organization and Conditions.

  • Syntax: the arrangement of words
  • Vocabulary: the choice of words
  • Complexity: the level of detail
  • Numbers: the presentation of numerical information
  • Format: the way a document looks
  • Style: conversational and emphasis methods
  • Organization: the grouping of process information
  • Conditions: the decision criteria
  • Lists: related items, possibly in sequence
  • Alerts: For warnings, cautions, and notes

The way information is organized can be as important as the information itself.

Logical Hierarchy
Organize documents for a logical hierarchy of information.

Task Orientation
Focus on the tasks to be performed and group related steps in the same section to avoid the reader having to jump around the document.

Heading Usage

Name the document sections with headings that help the reader comprehend the structure and access information.

Table of Contents
If the document is more than a few pages (as with a quality manual), use a table of contents to help the reader locate subjects quickly by page number.

Step Numbering
Number steps in a process to 1) indicate they are steps, 2) help locate specific steps, and 3) show how steps and sub-steps are related in a hierarchy.

Appendix Usage

Use appendices and attachments to present information that cannot be easily included in the main body of the document. Attachments can incorporate lengthy contingency actions, data sheets, process flowcharts, and sample forms.

Document Identification
Design the document so its first page includes the process name, number, and revision level. When readers look at a document, they should know what process it covers and if it is the current version.