Food: Instructions

(updated 6.3.15)

Timings given with recipes can include some or all of the following. They should be listed in recipe order. (Do not use colons following these headings.) (updated 12.11.14)
Start to Finish (reserved for quick recipes; usually 30 minutes or less)

For recipe instructions, start the instruction in each step by calling for a vessel or utensil:
In a small mixing bowl combine …

Italicize or place in opposite typeface any ingredients in instructions that aren’t listed in the ingredients list, including water, salt, pepper, and nonstick cooking spray, except water that is only to cook in or soak an ingredient. Subrecipes are an exception. Do not italicize the additional use of an ingredient in the instructions that is already included in the ingredients list (unless the ingredient is a full package, such as a 6-oz. container of yogurt).
add 1 teaspoon salt to the mixture
add pepper to taste

Drained and undrained should be included in the ingredients list only. If not possible (for space reasons), italicize in the instructions text.
1 16-oz. can tomatoes, undrained (ingredients list)
Add undrained tomatoes to sauce (instructions copy, if not in ingredients list)

Call for black pepper in instructions copy when other varieties of pepper are also used in the main recipe, such as cayenne pepper, jalapeño pepper, bottled hot pepper sauce, etc. Call for ground black pepper, cracked black pepper, coarse ground black pepper, etc., only when specifically needed for a recipe.

Specify granulated sugar in ingredients list and instructions copy when other types of sugar are also used in the main recipe, such as powdered sugar, brown sugar, etc.

Don’t break a fraction or a single-digit number and its measurement at the end of a line.

Use the degree symbol (option-shift-8) and “F” for Fahrenheit after the oven temp (no spaces, no periods).

Use Dimension X with measurements.
8×10-inch pan

Don’t use en dashes between numerals in instructions copy; use “to” instead.
Bake cookies 7 to 9 minutes. (not 7–9 minutes)

Use the word “until” (not “till”) when used to describe a doneness test.
Cook 6 to 8 minutes or until crisp.

In the method, indicate “preheat oven” at beginning of recipe or at appropriate other point in recipe (e.g., after a long chill time or after rising for bread). It is not necessary to repeat oven temperature in actual baking instructions.
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through.
(NOT “Bake in the preheated oven …” or “Bake in the 350ºF oven …)

See also Punctuation.


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