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Chapter 11. Writing Instructions > Begin with an Introduction

Begin with an Introduction

Even if you’re instructing readers on the simplest of procedures, make sure you introduce your topic. For example, if your instructions are for an easy recipe on how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, don’t just jump into the steps or the ingredients; instead, warm up your readers with an overview, a summary, or an anecdote.

It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

Chinese proverb

Depending on the topic and level of difficulty, you might include in your introduction some or all of the elements described in the next few sections.

Start with an Anecdote

A great way to draw in your readers is to tell a story that relates to the topic of instruction. You might tell about your own introduction to the topic, or a lesson learned from your grandmother, or a childhood memory. For example, let’s say you are providing a recipe for wild blueberry pie, and it’s the same recipe your mother prepared every summer when your family vacationed in Northern Michigan. You might start with a story about how you helped your mom gather the blueberries but couldn’t resist eating more than you collected. Maybe you were teased because your hands and lips were stained purple. You might tell how you’d wander into your mother’s kitchen that was redolent with the smell of a hot, buttery crust and sugared berries while....


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