Re: ADMIN: Re: OT How do I unsubscribe?.. reading directions

Subject: Re: ADMIN: Re: OT How do I unsubscribe?.. reading directions
From: "Carnall, Jane" <Jane -dot- Carnall -at- compaq -dot- com>
To: "'TECHWR-L'" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 25 Jan 2000 10:32:04 -0000

Jo Bryd wrote:
<<Your point, Eric, illustrates one of my pet theories about technical
writers,
especially those of us who write directions for a living - and do it very
well.
We're the worst in the world when it comes to reading directions.>>

Susan Harkus wrote:
>>I go further than Jo... we are not "the worst in the world".. we are
simply
like the whole world when it comes to reading directions (or anything
else).. Few people want to read to do or even learn to do unless they are
forced to... quite a challenge when you think of the implications for what
we spend our lives producing.<<

One of the key moments in my decision to become a technical writer (rather
than a programmer, which is what my degree was intended for) was when my
father, struggling with an early version of MS Word, asked me how to insert
footnotes. He showed me the manual: there was a one-page, highly technical,
description of the mechanics involved. I read it with concentration, made
some notes, went back to the wordprocessor, and showed my father the three
or four steps that were actually required (select menu, select sub-menu,
select menu item, click on Yes). He stared at me. He stared at the manual.
He is normally a nice, quiet-voiced man, but he exploded "Why couldn't they
write THAT down!" and I shrugged and said "Because it was written by
programmers."

No one in my family ever asks me to write instructions/processes, even
though they know I do that for a living. What they *do* ask me to do is
translate the instructions that other people have written - usually in very
small print.

Jane Carnall
When all else fails, read the manual.
If that doesn't work, do what it says.





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