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Developing Quality Technical Information: A Handbook for Writers and Editors, Third Edition by Elizabeth Wilde, Shannon Rouiller, Eric Radzinski, Deirdre Longo, Moira McFadden Lanyi, Michelle Carey

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Chapter 3. Task orientation

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Don’t tell me how it works; tell me how to use it.

—An IBM customer

Task orientation is a focus on users’ goals and the tasks that support those goals. You rarely help your users when you tell them only how a product works or how it is structured. Your users have a job to do, so they need practical information that helps them understand and complete their tasks.

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If your goal is to put your child’s bicycle together the night before his birthday, you don’t want to learn about how sturdy the tires are or what materials ...

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