Rednectar’s Rules for writing Lab Guides

I wrote these as a guide for lab writers whose work I get to review and are in the context of writing lab guides using the frustrating wordprocessor known as Microsoft Word. It is meant to be a set of instructions for writers to follow BEFORE passing them on to me.

Before saving ready to be check-formatted, take these simple steps

Page breaks, paragraphs, tabs and spaces


    1. Remove all page breaks. Page breaks are determined by grouping paragraphs together that need to stick together by using the “Keep with next” paragraph attribute.  [A “keep with previous” would be SO much better… please upvote this]
      1. This will save me from having to do my first task in every review, which is to search and replace all instances of page breaks with nothing.
      2. And while on the topic – make sure you apply “Keep with Next” to every cell in a table EXCEPT the last row.  [A “keep with previous” would be SO much better…]
    2. Remove all empty paragraphs.  Spacing between paragraphs is determined by the style. If you don’t like the amount of space between paragraphs, let me know which style you’d like to change. Remember that this will change ALL paragraphs of that style, that’s why we use styles. I reserve the right NOT to agree.
      1. This will save me from having to do my second task in every review, which is to search and replace all instances of two CRs with one CR
    3. Remove all double spaces except after full stops. Use <tab>s to space items if necessary, or create a table.



    1. In general, every Graphic is to be either:
      • Placed inline, so that text flows around it, something like
        Press the gearicon icon; or
      • Given an entire paragraph to itself, like those above.  If you have two graphics that have to go one after the other or side by side, find a graphics program like Preview and combine the two graphics into one.  Don’t paste them as separate graphics and expect that they will stay side by side (they won’t) or on the same page (they might if you are lucky.)
      • In the paragraph where the graphic lives, don’t add any tabs or spaces.
    2. Do NOT use MS Word shapes, or if you do, they follow the same rules as graphics. One per paragraph.  If your graphic needs a circle or arrow super-imposed, use a graphics program to compose it, and paste the picture. Powerpoint is a convenient choice if you love the MS style shapes so much that you have to use them. Preview also does a good job.
      • If you DO use MS graphic shapes, there is no guarantee that they will appear on the page you meant them to be on. That’s just life with MS Word.

Other rules

  • We click buttons – we Don’t press them or push them or “go to” them
  • We don’t “go to” menus or tabs.  We navigate menus and click on tabs or select tabs. You can select menu items too. Using “Navigate to” combines a “Navigate” plus a “Select”
  • Every Step MUST require the user to take an action.  The following is NOT a step.

Step 1: The GET request failed because the API Key has not been added

  • The following IS a step

Step 1: Observe that the GET request failed because the API Key has not been added

  • We check boxes, we don’t tick them. Sometimes we clear or (ugh) uncheck them. We never untick them.  If you must use the work tick, make sure you are referring to a small insect. Oh, and when a box is checked or cleared, it is to be accompanied with a little symbol indicating this:

This checkbox is checked: 

This checkbox has been cleared: 

I’ll update this document if I think of any more!




About RedNectar Chris Welsh

Professional IT Instructor. All things TCP/IP, Cisco or Data Centre
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