A Primer on How to Write Standard Operating Procedures Using ChatGPT and Google Bard

How can you use AI to improve the procedure writing process?

We’re using ChatGPT for over a year now, in particular for writing tasks. Initially, we used it for simple things, such as proofreading, formatting, and document validation.

However, as the AI models have improved, we find it can handle more challenging queries and deliver the response in a more structured format.

In addition to this, by understanding how to ‘prompt’ the AIs, we significantly improved the overall workflow of SOP document generation.

Download Standard Operating Procedures in MS Word + Excel

In the following series of tutorials, we’ll look at how to get started with the different AI tools, examine the relative strengths and weaknesses, and provide you with checklists to get the most from them.

Goals – Can AI help complete procedure writing tasks?

To get started, we’ll look at procedure writing. We’re going to test three different tools:

Klariti has no affiliation with any of these companies.

So, our goal is to see if AI can improve the quality of our procedures, in particular more niche procedures.

I started with general questions about procedure writing and progressed into more detailed queries. You can see how to structure a SOP our on YouTube channel.

General Procedure Writing

Here’s the prompt:  

As a procedure writer, I want to improve the quality of my procedure writing. How can you help?

Prompt Response Word count

The first thing to note is that the word count from each does vary. However, I’m using the Pro version of ChatGPT, so this may have affected the results.

After running a few tests, it appears that ChatGPT generates the longest response (not necessarily the highest quality), while Claude and Google Bard were more or less the same in terms of word count.

Bard’s response was by far the most organized, structured, and resembled something you’d see in a user guide. So far, the most impressive.


  • ChatGPT – 45 lines
  • Claude – 27 lines
  • Google Bard – 30 lines

ChatGPT – 45 lines

ChatGPT organized the response into logical groupings and included suggestions not found in the other responses. It mentioned modular design and compliance considerations, something the others missed, at least in the first pass.

  1. Structural Excellence:

    – Modular Design: Organize the procedure into discrete, logically sequenced modules. This aids in easier navigation and understanding.

    – Consistent Formatting: Use a standardized format for headings, subheadings, lists, and instructions. Consistency aids in readability and comprehension.

  1. Legal and Compliance Considerations:

    – Regulatory Compliance: Ensure that your procedures comply with relevant laws, standards, and industry regulations.

    – Document Control: Maintain meticulous records of procedure versions, authorship, and approvals.

Screenshot of ChatGPT response


This was the least impressive and consisted of only twelve bullet points. It also gave me an error message suggesting to upgrade to the Pro version as it was experiencing high usage volumes. Seemed a strange sales pitch but we’ll leave this go for now.

– Use simple, clear language. Avoid jargon and overly complex sentences. Write at a level your target audience will understand.

– Be concise yet comprehensive. Include all necessary steps but avoid excessive detail. Use bullet points and numbered lists to break up blocks of text.

– Be consistent. Use the same terminology throughout. Format each procedure similarly. Follow any organizational style guides.

Learn how to write steps in procedures

Google Bard – 30 lines

From a user’s perspective, this was the impressive. It looked organized and used headings to structure the material.

  1. Clarity and Conciseness:
  2. Accuracy and Completeness:
  3. Visual Appeal and Engagement:

Here’s an example from section two:

  1. Accuracy and Completeness:

–  Double-check every step: Ensure each step is accurate and in the correct order. Test the procedure yourself or have someone else follow it to identify any gaps or errors.

–  Include potential troubleshooting tips:  Anticipate common problems users might encounter and provide clear instructions on how to resolve them.

–  Don’t assume prior knowledge:  Explain any necessary background information or technical terms clearly.

Detailed query

The next step was to ask for more details on Structural Excellence – Modular Design.


Claude’s response was a tad underwhelming, so I ruled it out from further testing.

However, I gave it another chance later with more detailed instructions.

This time the response was better with H2 headings followed by bullet points. However, compared to the other two, it wasn’t offering anything that justified additional testing. From here on, I concentrated on ChatGPT and Bard.

I should add the Claude is exception in other ways and we’ll return to this in later posts.


Here’s the prompt:

Provide more details on Structural Excellence – Modular Design: Organize the procedure into discrete, logically sequenced modules. This aids in easier navigation and understanding.

ChatGPT response

It provided to give a very detailed response – and how it applies to procedure writing.

Structural excellence in procedure writing, particularly through modular design, is a sophisticated approach that enhances the readability, comprehension, and practical application of the document. Here, I’ll delve into more detailed aspects of modular design:

Concept of Modular Design in Procedure Writing

Definition and Purpose:

Modular Design: This involves breaking down the procedure into self-contained units or sections (modules). Each module addresses a specific part of the procedure.

Purpose: The aim is to create a structure that is easily navigable, understandable, and adaptable. This approach allows readers to quickly locate specific information without having to sift through irrelevant details.

Google Bard

Here I made a mistake.

I didn’t explicitly specify that I wanted it to discuss modular design in the context of procedure writing.

As a result, its response was generic, referenced engineering and other disciplines where it can be applied.

For example:

Module 2: Module Design and Engineering

Develop Module Geometry and Layout: Determine the optimal size, shape, and configuration of individual modules based on space utilization, structural integrity, and ease of assembly.

Material Selection and Specification: Choose materials that offer the required strength, durability, and sustainability while considering cost and constructability.

Structural Analysis and Design: Perform detailed calculations to ensure each module can withstand anticipated loads and comply with relevant building codes. Utilize modeling software for accurate simulations.

To fix this, I updated the prompt to:

In the context of Procedure Writing, provide details on Structural Excellence – Modular Design: Organize the procedure into discrete, logically sequenced modules. This aids in easier navigation and understanding.

Aside: one of the nice touches in the Google Bard UI, is that you can edit the prompt instead of creating a new one. Just click the pencil icon, update the text, and it generates a new response. It’s a small touch, it works quite well.

So did this improve the response?

Yes, and in a very interesting way.

In addition to providing more useful information, it also provided a sample procedure to illustrate how to write a modular procedure.

“By breaking down the process into these smaller, manageable modules, you make the procedure much easier to follow and understand for anyone changing a tire, regardless of their experience level.”

Specific SOP query – Construction industry

While I was happyish with the previous results, I wanted to see if it could provide detailed material for a specific industry vertical. I settled on construction as the industry is very busy at the moment.

Here’s the query:

Provide a detailed SOP for the Construction industry. Include sample text to help the reader complete the sections. Add a glossary of terms, if necessary

ChatGPT response

ChatGPT response was impressive for a first pass. It included 12 chapter headings that could be used for ‘generic’ construction industry procedures. It also included a glossary of terms and additional notes, such as:

Customization: Tailor each section to the specific requirements of your construction project or activity.

Consultation: Engage with key stakeholders, including safety officers and site managers, to ensure the SOP is comprehensive and practical.

Training and Communication: Ensure that all personnel are trained on the SOP and understand its importance.

Google Bard response

I found this interesting.

Bard asked for more specific information and turned the tables on me by ‘prompting’ me to give it more details. Which I obliged.

To provide you with a detailed and helpful SOP, I need to know which specific process you’d like me to focus on.

For example, would you like an SOP for:

  • Installing drywall?
  • Laying concrete foundations?
  • Roofing a residential building?
  • Wiring a commercial building?

Once I know the specific task, I can create a detailed SOP with sample text, visuals, and a glossary if needed.



So, what did we learn?

As you can see from the examples above (both in markdown), the way you craft your prompt determines the level of detail, quality, and specificity in the response.

Aside: if you want more tutorials on prompt engineering for technical writing, ping me on Twitter.

While AI can assist you in writing procedures, remember it’s not a legal or procedural expert. However, it can get you up-and-running very quickly, and help craft, research, and review SOP docs.

Before you start… here’s some guidelines on using it for procedure writing:

  • Use it as a tool, not a replacement – it can help brainstorm ideas, structure content, and ensure conciseness. However, you’re responsible for the accuracy, completeness, and legal compliance.
  • Provide it with detailed instructions and context: The more information you give it about the procedure, the better it can understand your needs and generate helpful output. Take time to outline the purpose, target audience, steps, expected outcomes, and relevant legal or regulatory requirements.
  • Focus on clarity: Aim for clear, concise language; avoid technical jargon unless absolutely necessary. Remember, your procedures should be easily understood by the intended audience.
  • Structure content effectively: Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, and numbering to break down the procedure into manageable steps.
  • Seek legal and expert review: Once you’ve drafted the procedure using the AI, be sure to have it reviewed by a legal professional or subject matter expert.

Download Standard Operating Procedures in MS Word + Excel

Final Thoughts

Procedure writing is an iterative process. My suggestion is to use ChatGPT and/or Google Bard to create draft documents, and then utilize these tools to expedite the revision process.

In the following articles, we’ll look at more complex writing scenarios and investigate how to use AI to reduce friction and improve your productivity as a procedure writer.

You can view the sample SOPs we created here: