Click on each of the links below to see the text being discussed in the annotation. Scroll up and down in the document to see examples of the same concept. (In Netscape 2, you must reload and scroll to see the annotations in the right frame.)

Titles. A title should indicate not only the topic but also the purpose of the document in relation to that topic. In this case, we get both: we know that the topic is Eudora Lite 1.5.4 and that this is a beginner's guide in relation to it.

Audience. The appropriate readers for these instructions is indicated in title and in the first line of the text, as well as in the third paragraph.

Purpose and scope. This introduction makes it clear that these instructions will provide you with "everything you need to know" to send and receive e-mail. That acts as a purpose statement, but it also acts as a scope statement, indicating the limits of what will be covered.

Overview. In any introduction, it's important to give readers an overview—a kind of roadmap—of what is about to be covered. these instructions provide that in the in-sentence numbered list. Notice that the third element in the list is not parallel in phrasing to the first two. Notice too that the overview could include two additional items: the brief discussion of Eudora and the list of "what you need."

Background. These instructions provide background in the form of a discussion of what Eudora is and how it works. Obviously, it assumes familiarity with Internet and e-mail.

Equipment needed. Like many instructions, these include a list of what you need to perform the instructions.

Second-level headings. Notice that these instructions have three second-level headings, highlighted in red. They are like the roman sections of an outline. (We don't use first-level headings because the document is relatively brief.) the first second-level heading introduces the getting-started tasks; the second one introduces the tasks for actually using Eudora; the third explains how to get help.

Third-level headings. Notice the third-level headings in these instructions—they are "run into" the paragraphs they introduce. They are like the capital letters that provide second-level detail in traditional outlines. (Notice too that all the third-level headings are parallel in phrasing. That is, they all use gerunds (ing) phrasing.)

Numbered steps. In instructions, you present each step that the reader must take in a separately numbered-list item. Notice the format: a number, a period and then a space before the text; no parentheses. Notice that the "run-over" lines align to the text of the item, not the number. To get this format, use the numbered list formatting that comes with your software; don't manually create numbered lists.

Bulleted lists. Remember the distinction between numbered lists and bulleted lists: numbers are for items in a required order; bullets are items in no required order. This rule is strong enough that reader will get confused if you number items that are not in any required order and vice versa. Notice toward the bottom of these instructions there are alternative steps—two ways of doing the same thing. This situation must use bullets; otherwise readers might attempt to perform both steps in order.

List lead-ins. Introduce every list you have in a document with a lead-in, which need not be a full sentence as some of the examples in these instructions show. Notice that the lead-in is punctuated with a colon.

Imperative writing style. Notice how the individual steps here use the imperative style of phrasing (open this, aim that, click this, and so on). This is standard with instruction-writing. "You" is also commonly used. The idea is to get the reader's full attention. (Not all imperatives are shown in red in the example.)

Special notices. Most instructions include special notices: notes, warnings, cautions, and danger notices, usually accompanied by special formatting. In these instructions, we have several notes that call readers' attention to special points such as how to get a POP account, the syntax of a POP account, and so on. We also have two warnings—which in the style used in this online textbook and its examples are used for situations that could damage data or equipment or cause the procedure to fail. In this case, the instructions warn readers to think before sending e-mail and to watch out about shutting down Eudora (and losing any unsaved data).

Highlighting. Instructions often use some form of highlighting—such as bold for menu, option, and button names. These instructions don't, however.

Illustrations. When you write instructions for computer software, you can use screen captures of the software interface at the various points you use it. Screen captures are easy: in Windows just press Print Screen to grab the whole screen or Alt + Print Screen to grab just the active window. After that, just paste the image into your document.

That completes the comments for this example.