The components of a well written step

Steps are the primary means of instruction for your testers, the quality of your instructions will have an impact on tester behavior. So it's vital to understand how to write steps that are clear and useful.

Each step is comprised of an action followed by a question to guide testers through what they should do, we refer to it as action/question format:

Action: What should the tester do?

Question: In the form of a Yes or No question.

This simple format allows you to validate each essential action in a workflow, tracking success or failure each step of the way. By providing testers with simple instructions, this format facilitates consistent behavior.

Tests must be tightly focused on a specific process, but individual steps can be as high-level or granular as you wish, depending on what you want to confirm.

What makes a step?

Let's break down what action/question instructions should include.


  1. The Goal of the step: the actions a tester is required to perform
  2. What is required to perform the test: login credentials, data files, links
  3. Location: where the performed actions are supposed to be executed (sidebar, separate tab, etc...)
  4. Relevant background info or conditional instructions (wait time, known behavior, potential occurrences (pop-ups), how to manage those occurrences)


  1. Emphasis is one question, not several - this makes it hard to know which one to answer
  2. Relates specifically to action
  3. Confirms and Verifies the successful execution the action
  4. Allows only for a YES/NO answer - should not leave any room for inference or interpretation
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