I've been reading several articles about the use of voice within technical writing (both passive and active) and would like feedback and guidance on the proposed content structure.

Use Case

I plan on using the templates presented below are to generate step by step procedural training that is delivered via narration and onscreen instruction. My desire is for the narration to be more natural/conversational with the onscreen text being more direct. The hope is that users will be better able to process and retain the information as the original content is comprised of short authoritative sentence fragments which easily cause the users eyes "glaze over" while reading.

Narration (Guidance)

[Action] the [Target(s)] [Optional location information], [it/they] should be [Adjective describing the state or condition] [Optional reasoning for the performing the action]

Alternate structure

The [Target(s)] [Optional location information], should be [Action'ed] [to/for/in order to] [Adjective describing the state or condition]

Onscreen (Instruction)

[Action] the [Target(s)] [for/to] [Verb(s) describing state]

The most common actions are: Check, Inspect, Set, Validate, Open, and Close.

The most common adjectives are: Cleaned, Damaged, Installed, Routed.

As writing isn't my particular forte your guidance is much appreciated.

Real-World Example


Inspect the oil ports, located on the interior of the gear housing, they should be free from dirt and damage which may impair operation.


Inspect the oil ports for dirt and damage.

  • Are you looking for a comparison of two different narrative styles, or are you looking for a comparison of the effectiveness of a narrative style vs. a list style? Are you, in this question, preparing both printed material and on-screen material? Your question would be easier, IMO, to answer if these points were clarified. – cmm Jun 17 '20 at 17:19
  • Sorry for the late reply. Having taken literally hundreds of 30min to 1 hour CBT lessons to date, i 'feel' that there's a general Improvement in knowledge retention when the content is presented through the use of a conversational voice. The onscreen instruction is just a backup for the narration as it's possible for students to miss something in the narration and have to double check the list of steps. As i'm not particularly a tech writer (or good communicator) I'm more looking for guidance as to whether i'm headed down the wrong path or overthinking it. – Reahreic Jun 23 '20 at 15:15
  • @Reahreic How is your project going? It sounds like you want to practice and improve your delivery before you start. Having a conversational style is the norm nowadays. Recently, I started working through Udemy's free online training for course creators. They're pretty good. I also recommend listening to "Vlog like a Boss" by Amy Schmittauer. It's packed with great tips that translate directly to instructional material. Her first-hand insight and excellent delivery are proof of her expertise. – rolfedh Jul 5 '20 at 22:08
  • udemy.com/user/udemymanager – rolfedh Jul 5 '20 at 22:11

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