Writing a standard operating procedure with a good title and purpose challenges you to reflect on the needs of your audience. Managers and employees will refer to your procedure to understand how a particular type of work should be done. If you aren't specific throughout your document, your audience will not get your intended meaning.


Write the title as a how-to statement that tells exactly what the reader will be able to do after following the procedure. For example, "How to send a payroll spreadsheet report through Microsoft Outlook email" is better than "How to attach a report to email" because you specify the document and refer the reader to an email program.

Make your how-to statement an action statement. Use strong verbs that show or tell rather than using a form of the verb "to be." For example, "How to be effective in your presentation" is not as strong as "How to deliver an effective presentation."

Use specific nouns and only adjectives that are necessary to enhance your meaning.


Create a purpose statement that gives a strong explanation of why the procedure is important to different members of your target audience. If you are writing a standard operating procedure for your small business, link the purpose to your business model, business values, strategic goals or other specific guidelines.

Use the wording of the purpose statement to expand on the title. A standard operating procedure is intended to describe repetitive or routine procedures in your small business. This helps the readers and your staff trainers to know whether the document is something an employee needs to learn.

Include only relevant information in your purpose statement. For example, "This procedure gives detailed instructions on how to attach a payroll spreadsheet report to an email in the Microsoft Outlook 2007 email program." By specifying that the instructions are for Microsoft Outlook 2007, the reader knows what software the procedures apply to. The person can quickly determine whether the procedure is appropriate or if another operating procedure must be found.


Ask knowledgeable co-workers to read over the procedure and recommend ways that you can improve the title and purpose.


Do not use acronyms or terms that the general reader will not understand. Do not overwhelm the reader by including too many references to other charts or appendices.