“Instructions Unclear”: 105 People Who Take Instructions Too Literally

Whether you’re building a piece of IKEA furniture or experimenting with a new recipe for dinner, clear instructions are always an important factor in ensuring the final product is a success. But unfortunately, we don’t always have access to the most helpful directions, and sometimes the people trying to follow those directions seem to have forgotten their common sense at home. So to raise awareness for the importance of clear instructions (or to laugh at those who can’t seem to follow them), the Instructions Unclear subreddits were born. 

Below, we’ve gathered some of the most hilarious posts from these groups that will remind you to always dot your I’s and check your T’s when explaining how to do something, or the outcome might be a hilarious fail. Be sure to upvote all of the photos featuring mistakes you might have made yourself (don’t worry, we won’t tell) or those that you can’t believe anyone managed to make. Feel free to share more hilariously unclear instructions you’ve encountered in the comments below, and then if you’re interested in checking out another Bored Panda article featuring times instructions were written poorly, you can find more funny photos right here!  


More info: Reddit | Reddit

#1 Couldn't Figure Out Crosspost. Found On Hold Up


Image credits: Eorskus


#2 No More Dog


Image credits: GeoWebbo


#3 Attention


Image credits: gnj26


The photos on this list have been gathered from two subreddits dedicated to calling out the world’s most unclear instructions and the people who follow directions without any consideration for logic. Combined, r/InstructionsUnclear and r/Instructions_Unclear have over 5k members, so there is no shortage of wonderful posts on their pages that might make you involuntarily facepalm. From people seeking help after having trouble following directions to photos of the confusing and misleading instructions themselves, we hope you enjoy this list of photos that might make you lose a bit of faith in humanity.


We know you pandas are smart enough to not have any trouble following directions, but sometimes it’s hard to know just how competent other people are. That’s why it’s crucial to remember that any time you assign a task to a child, student, employee, or your significant other, you go into great detail. Or make sure they feel comfortable asking any questions they may have. Common sense is not always super common, and it’s easier to prevent messes and mistakes than try to fix them later. 


#4 Right Of Way


Image credits: stinkles555


#5 What About Now?


Image credits: Subscribe_To_Lag135


#6 And Blue Means


Image credits: renoscarab


When it comes to providing instructions on how to do something, it can be difficult to know how much detail to include. Being too precise might sound condescending, but leaving out too many details might leave you disappointed in the final product. If you ask for onions on your sandwich at a restaurant, you might want to have your server clarify if the onions are white, red, raw, marinated, caramelized, etc. As easy as it is to forget, all of our minds work very differently, and something that may seem obvious or implied to you might be completely different to what a friend or stranger is thinking. 


Depending on your profession, you might be giving instructions out more than you’re following them. If you’re a manager or supervisor and you often delegate tasks, there are a few things to keep in mind that might help your employees understand exactly what is expected of them. According to Alice Dartnell at LifeHack.com, it’s important not to make any assumptions. “Whilst most people in your office or business will be intuitive and switched on, they are not mind readers,” Alice writes. “An imperative when delivering clear instructions is to not assume the recipient knows what you mean, and this can be for anything from industry acronyms to who to contact in different departments or organizations. It will only take you a few seconds more to explain the details.”


#7 Heh Heh


Image credits: BraveChipmunk3005


#8 Throw Out A Jab.. Set The Tone


Image credits: qdubbya


#9 From Home Improvement On Snes


Image credits: dankboyo62


Alice explains that it’s also crucial to be clear and specific when assigning tasks. Rambling on will waste people’s time and allows employees to get bogged down in the details, but being unclear will lead to confusion or many follow up questions. “Personally I prefer not to butter it up, and would rather get straight to the point of what needs to be actioned or delivered, rather than making the instructions too flowery, which will only confuse,” Alice says.


“For example, don’t just instruct ‘send a selection of the briefings to a few key stakeholders’, instead state how many stakeholders and to whom, and what briefings! I often find it helps to bullet point as it reduces the temptation to waffle on and it helps your instructions and actions be more focused,” she added.


#10 Strange Rule, But Ok


Image credits: ihavethebestmarriage


#11 This Sign, Telling You Not To Touch This Bottle, Can Only Be Read By Touching The Bottle


Image credits: Jizz-Wailer77


#12 Yeet The Baby?


Image credits: TheGoldenBoi_


When providing details for your instructions, it’s important to clarify time frames. Words like “soon” are vague and can lead to misunderstandings, so make sure your staff is on the same page by defining timelines as accurately as possible. Examples can also be very helpful when you’re assigning a new task that your employees haven’t done before. “This will help to add clarity to your instructions and help form a clearer picture of what it is you mean and want,” Alice explains. And if exactly what you want is not feasible at the moment, providing alternatives can be useful. Alice explains that this empowers your staff to get the job done without having to bother you every step of the way, and it should save everyone time and energy. 


#13 How Am I Supposed To Text And Drive Without My Hands?


Image credits: goombah111


#14 I Have No Idea What This Teabag Wants Me To Do...which Is It?!


Image credits: ClintonKelly87


#15 Against A Bear


Image credits: hallohannes123


If you’re an educator, you know how important clear instructions are when assigning tasks to students as well. Whether it’s by accident or to spite you, kids have an incredible knack for twisting words and following instructions in the worst possible ways. Thankfully, award winning teacher Nancy Barile, M.A.Ed. created a guide for giving clear instructions to students (that they’ll actually follow). First, Nancy notes that the language used is very important. Avoid vague terms like “a few”, “some” or “a couple”, and clearly articulate your expectations. “Providing a strong, detailed rubric with the assignment can also make both the teacher's and the student's job clearer and easier,” she adds.


#16 Screw On Top


Image credits: stinkles555


#17 When Am I Supposed To Take These ??


Image credits: slytherpuff25


#18 Things Taken Literally


Image credits: bmartin1989


Nobody likes to do something that feels pointless, so Nancy goes on to explain that when speaking to students, it’s also helpful to explain the purpose of the task. “When you explain to students why they're being asked to complete an assignment, they're more able to appreciate the experience,” she notes. “Connecting the task to existing student knowledge, previous lessons, or covered material will help students feel more confident about tackling the task.” Having more context can also help if they don’t understand any of the instructions. If they know the end goal, they’re more likely to problem solve on their own along the way.


#19 U Think It’s Supposed To Say “You Matter / Don’t Give Up”


Image credits: reddit.com


#20 Don't Need Three Words


Image credits: stinkles555


#21 Guess There’s Only One Way To Be Sure


Image credits: mr_helmsley


Just like examples can help employees complete tasks, they can be helpful for students doing assignments as well. “In 1965 (but I remember it like it was yesterday), my first grade teacher had us create an alphabet booklet,” Nancy shared. “I was excited about the assignment and worked hard on it every day for a week. After I handed it in, I realized that many of the students had created clever covers for their booklets. Because I didn't have an example to mirror, I didn't include a cover, and my pride in my work quickly faded.” Examples can answer many questions a student might have, and they’re a great way to ensure students are on the right track with an assignment.  


#22 It Was Hung


Image credits: ajwhummel


#23 What Do I Do?


Image credits: WildVergito


#24 Pretty Straightforward


Image credits: whackamolewilly


Feeling confused is never fun. And while it’s important to have critical thinking skills and know how to problem solve, clear instructions help take the guesswork out of any task or assignment. Detailed directions can also help students’ confidence, as they’ll feel capable and competent rather than lost. “Giving clear instructions to students can ensure that they fully comprehend what they need to do to achieve in your classroom,” Nancy writes. “It will ease students' nerves, assuage their insecurities, and help them confirm your expectations so that they can be happy and successful in school.”


#25 A Classic


Image credits: dankmesti


#26 Sorry What?


Image credits: shanewd40


#27 Okay Lowe’s Do You Want Me To Sit Or Not


Image credits: kcib


We hope the instructions for reading this article were clear enough. When we say upvote your favorite pics, we mean click that little arrow that points up on the photos you like. Who am I kidding? You pandas are way too smart to be featured on Instructions Unclear. Keep enjoying these hilarious pics, and then feel free to share any of your personal “instructions unclear” stories in the comments. And if you’re interested in finding even more horribly followed or horribly laid out instructions, be sure to check out the subreddits dedicated to this topic right here and here


#28 Instructions Were Unclear


Image credits: ktrinh94


#29 How To Crack All Nuts


Image credits: miyagisanjr


#30 Well, Can You?


Image credits: shanewd40


#31 Just Do It!....or Don't!


Image credits: DjFizz


#32 I Need Someone Conceived Of In Vietnam To Assemble My Chair For Me!


Image credits: -grover


#33 Instructions Unclear, Slept On The Floor Instead


Image credits: Sabsterisk


#34 Apparently My Husqvarna Lawn Mower Believes That If You Run Over A Child You Should Make Sure That You Do It Twice For Good Measure


Image credits: 1009991


#35 Instructions Literally Unclear


Image credits: playing_with_fire_1


#36 Alright


Image credits: stinkles555


#37 Choose The Cross For You He Chose Jesus?


Image credits: shanewd40


#38 Do I Have To Pay?


Image credits: reddit.com


#39 Need Help With Rat


Image credits: iLiveInyourTrees


#40 Recipe For Korean Chicken


Image credits: JoeyDR


#41 Rubber Dinosaur Toy That Grows In Water Has Comical Directions


Image credits: Balyash


#42 Ummmm


Image credits: oofoofooofooofoofooo


#43 However Will I Manage To Assemble This Complicated Structure


Image credits: lemonandherbperiperi


#44 Yum


Image credits: RealBeanut


#45 Instructions Unclear, Am Now On Watchlist


Image credits: jpa1137


#46 Thanks, Walmart. Crystal Clear!


Image credits: RogueVII


#47 I Have Some (No) Idea What This Means


Image credits: chato4444


#48 Wait A Second.... I Didn’t Know The Passenger Side Had The Steering Wheel


Image credits: asfelixar


#49 The Third Warning On This Diamond Art Box


Image credits: PreferredEnemy


#50 The Edge Of The Pedal, Of Course


Image credits: reddit.com


#51 Oh, Ok


Image credits: DjFizz


#52 In The Event Of An Emergency, Please Don’t Smoke While Sliding


Image credits: blake__hawk


#53 Is This What They Meant?


Image credits: TopGearDanTGD


#54 Unlock Your Second Knee


Image credits: reddit.com


#55 Keep The Bag Away From Cheese


Image credits: SacoTheSnacko


#56 Is Susan Dead Or Did Somebody Die


Image credits: gurdy2314


#57 What Should I Do?


Image credits: Enderjora


#58 Why Is IKEA Telling Me To Throw The Toilet Brush, I Just Bought, In The Trash Can?


Image credits: AnnaPudding


#59 Honey, We Need To Cancel The Baby's Gym Membership


Image credits: Anonymous_H20


#60 Microwave At 900 Kilowatt? Let Me Fire Up My Nuclear Reactor


Image credits: smeyn


#61 Message Unclear


Image credits: Enderjora


#62 This Doesn’t Sit Right With Me ?


Image credits: zoekage


#63 Looks Like Got Stress? P A N I C And Is A Little Misleading At First Glance


Image credits: Angry-Upvote


#64 Ah Yes, Of Course


Image credits: Dangerous_With_Rocks


#65 How Much Jet Fuel To Melt A Pizza?


Image credits: sexy_syzygy


#66 One Job


Image credits: reddit.com


#67 Decorative Only


Image credits: thumper0565


#68 Can I Have Some Help With This Oven?


Image credits: Spaceman072


#69 Cold Iron


Image credits: xxrainbowkissxx


#70 My BF Bought A Meat Tenderizer Mallet Online And The Instructions Look Like They've Gone Through Five Levels Of Google Translate


Image credits: kallyssea


#71 I Did What It Said, But Nothing Happened And Now My Phone Smells Weird


Image credits: cheneyk


#72 No Problem Devil Or Nope Devil?


Image credits: niutuiyuk


#73 Thanks Doom. Very Cool


Image credits: Enderjora


#74 Easy Folding Technique


Image credits: Ducoo123


#75 Fragile, Do Not Use Murder Knife?


Image credits: VioletGale


#76 And How Do I Supposed To Open The Package?


Image credits: SacoTheSnacko


#77 The Girls Or The Hair? I'm Scared


Image credits: Sarcastic_Salamander


#78 All Good Until Step 4


Image credits: fangbatt


#79 Fun Jiu Jitsu Lesson


Image credits: YeetsForWeeks


#80 Important Instructions For All To Follow


Image credits: ToddJam


#81 Do It Quickly, Please I Beg You. .


Image credits: FaceAndKMS


#82 Nobody Told Me You Have To Open It From The Top


Image credits: azmoganv


#83 How To Parkour?


Image credits: ethnicEthn


#84 My Phone Screen Protector Did Not Come With Instructions So I Checked The Back Of The Box. Let's Start With #1 Shall We


Image credits: Jedibbq


#85 Works Well


Image credits: AssadShal


#86 Pretty Clear If You Ask Me Lol


Image credits: xXScorpioXx13rd


#87 Clean Toilet Seat With Shitty Toilet Brush After Use Please....nhs At Its Best


Image credits: Lwebster31


#88 ...then Fully Insert Your Right Fist Into The Dog's Rectum?


Image credits: zia16sun


#89 This Was An Opportunity I Could Not Pass Up


Image credits: EthanTheInteresaunte


#90 Use Larger Size If Enough Large


Image credits: SpeedosStretch


#91 You Want My Milk To Pour How?


Image credits: Sarcastic_Salamander


#92 The Steps To Open An Air Freshener


Image credits: nameuser99


#93 Ok *turns Left* Now What?


Image credits: Zombie-Redshirt


#94 Which One Of You Nailed Your Partners Head Causing This Advisory?


Image credits: dynasoreshicken


#95 Pay Attention To Not Being Injurde


Image credits: hulafukcares


#96 Instructions Unclear, Hanging From My Horse


Image credits: malnox


#97 Instructions Unclear, Tweets Stuck In Alternate Dimension


Image credits: lyt_seeker


#98 Instructions Unclear: Just Threw A Child Into The Fireplace


Image credits: KingGamer2357


#99 Happens Every Time


Image credits: inh24


#100 Wash Inside Out? ? It's A Scarf . .


Image credits: _Mal_Content_


#101 Hmmm, Yes Very Helpful


Image credits: xXScorpioXx13rd


#102 Instructions Unclear, Prepared Sandwich


Image credits: Atomixelement


#103 “Next”?


Image credits: hunngryhippo


#104 I Followed What It Said To Do, But Nothing Happened?


Image credits: C4nd3lytra


#105 Instructions Were Unclear


Image credits: wujack