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This page describes Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and their component sections and provides examples of a SOP for students to review. Documentation, that is, a system of written records, is essential in all laboratories and production environments. A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a certain type of document that describes in a step-by-step outline form how to perform a particular task or operation. Everyone in a company must follow the same procedures to assure that tasks are performed consistently and correctly. Most companies have a wide variety of SOPs that describe how to do different tasks. In many companies technicians and operators are trained in how to follow individual SOPs and their training record specifies which SOPs they are trained on and are authorized to use. There is no federally approved format for a SOP but there are expectations within the industry as to how a SOP should be written. The SOP is written in imperative sentences rather than a narrative style. A cookbook format is used and sentences should start with a task specific verb that tells what to do. The instructions are numbered in the order that they will be followed.
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