Paying Attention to Instructions and Templates

… a core concept in Leadership Skills and Atlas 109

Concept description

Mangers and project leaders often provide specific instructions on the process, content, and format for analytical products.

They may do this for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • ensuring that particular issues are addressed consistently by all members of the team
  • facilitating comparisons among the objects of the analysis
  • improving readability.

Creating a template for the final product is an efficient way of providing many of these instructions.


Suppose a unit is charged with addressing drinking water quality in First Nation communities in Ontario that are currently on boil-water advisories and different analysts are asked to provide advice on different communities. The unit head might ask the analysts to provide their advice in the form of a two-page Word-file briefing note with a specific filename using the template below, and to attach it as a Word document in an email on 28 February that identifies the parties consulted.

The analyst must pay close attention to recognize the myriad requirements implicit in the instructions and template. In this example they include the following:

  1. The email transmitting the briefing note should identify the parties consulted
  2. The attachment should be a Word (not pdf) file and follow the specified naming convention
  3. 12-point Ariel font with specific margins left and right, top and bottom
  4. Paragraphs aligned left (not justified)
  5. Single line-space between paragraphs
  6. One space between sentences
  7. Specific indentation for bullet points
  8. Specific subject matter in each of five (not four, not six) points in the box
  9. Upper case bold for major headings with no line-space below
  10. Specific headings (bold, not underlined) under CONSIDERATIONS with guidance about the issues to be covered
  11. Specific indentation for numbered points under NEXT STEPS
  12. Footer with page numbering
  13. Specific conventions for dashes (space n-dash space), percentages (%, not percent, not per cent), fiscal years (2018-19, not 2018/19, not 2018-2019), and use of numbered points within sentences (colon, 1) xx semicolon 2) xx)

There may be good reasons to deviate from instructions and templates but lack of attention as to what they are is not one of them. Intentions to deviate should normally be discussed with the issuers of the instructions in advance of submission.

Sample template for a briefing note providing implementation advice


The example is from Section I in the 2017-18 course Toronto PPG1007 Putting Policy into Action – Strategic Implementation of Public Objectives.

Topic, subject and Atlas course

Working in Organizations in Leadership Skills and Atlas 109.

Page created by: Ian Clark, last modified on 17 February 2018.

Image: SmartSign, at, accessed 18 February 2018.