I have been crocheting for ages, and writing directions for almost as long. I also am a tech editor, and I work with individual designers, yarn companies, and book and magazine editors. Each person or company usually has their own guidelines for writing patterns, crochet or knit. I know I have my own guidelines for pattern writing, based on what I would like to see in a written pattern. I also know that crochet patterns are written differently than knitting patterns are. I can usually tell when a knitter has written the crochet pattern, by the way it is worded - "cast on" is used in knitting patterns, and it's often used when a knitter writes a crochet pattern. Same with "bind off". We don't usually cast on and bind off in crochet. Knitting patterns also say "k4, p4, k4, p4". In crochet we would say " *sc through front loop only in each of the next 4 sts, sc through back loop only in each of the next 4 sts, repeat from * across." Crocheters need to know where to put their stitches, so we have to tell them "in each." Otherwise they may put 4 sc in one st.
When I teach my new students how to read a pattern, they seem to grasp this concept quickly. But one thing they have a problem with is the difference between "ch 3, turn" and "turn, ch 3". I've have told them it really makes no difference in what the chain stitch looks like. Just be consistent in what you do. However, my students don't always believe me! So I ask them to make a swatch. You can do this too.
Row 1: dc in 4th ch from hook, and in each ch across. Ch 3, turn. (10 dc, counting first ch-3 as a dc here and throughout)
Row 2: skip 1st dc, dc in next dc and in each dc across. Ch 3, turn. (10 dc)
Row 3: skip 1st dc, dc in next dc and in each dc across. Turn. (10 dc)
Row 4: ch 3, skip 1 dc, dc in next dc and in each dc across. Turn. (10 dc)
Row 5: ch 3, skip 1 dc, dc in next dc and in each dc across. End off.
Now, look at the ch-3 that you worked at the end of the 1st Row. (It's at the beginning of the 2nd row.) Compare it to the ch-3 you make at the beginning of the 4th row. (You can see these chains in my picture. The first one, made at the end of the 1st Row and appearing at the beginning of the 2nd row, is labeled with a "1". The 2nd one, at the beginning of the 4th Row, is labeled with a "3". ) I know, you're wondering WHY I labeled them that way. Well, I'll tell you ..........I really don't know! :-) But now, look closely. There really is no difference between the chains. (The picture shows the bottom chain of the first ch-3 turned on it's side - but that's just because I didn't straighten it out when I took the picture!)
You can try this with a hdc and a tr, and the results would be the same.
There is one thing, though, that I would caution you to do, just as I caution my students - be consistent! If you chain at the end of the row, and then turn, do that all the time. If you turn, and then chain at the beginning of a row, do THAT all the time! :-)
The Crochet Doctor is in!