Difference between Instructions and Guidelines

An instruction is typically a command or direction. A guideline is a general recommendation. Generally speaking, guidelines are not mandatory.

An instruction is typically a command or direction. A guideline is a general recommendation. Generally speaking, guidelines are not mandatory.

There are two main differences between instructions and guidelines:

  • Instructions are normally mandatory whereas guidelines are general recommendations.
  • Instructions are frequently more specific than guidelines.

Examples

  • It is a good guideline to check your spelling before sending an email.
  • The leaflet includes safety instructions to be followed in the event of a natural disaster.
  • As a guideline, check the weather forecast before going through the mountains.
  • The boss gave you a set of instructions regarding customer management, so please follow them.
  • The United Nations is an organization that provides guidelines to maintain international peace.
  • Have you ever given employees clear instructions about what you needed to be done?
  • These are just a set of guidelines rather than binding rules.
  • Employees who don't follow the guidelines don't have anything happen to them. However, if they don't follow the instructions, may be fired.

A Set of Instructions or Guidelines

As you can see in the examples above, you can use the words "set" and "list" to talk about a number of interrelated instructions or guidelines. Therefore, you can say:

  • a list of instructions,
  • a set of instructions,
  • a list of guidelines, or
  • a set of guidelines.

Instruction Synonyms

  • specific rule
  • direction
  • order
  • directive
  • procedure
  • steps to follow (informal)
  • dos and don'ts (informal)

Guideline Synonyms

  • general rule
  • general principle
  • piece of advice
  • recommendation
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