RE: Training docs vs. user documentation?

Subject: RE: Training docs vs. user documentation?
From: "Beth Kane" <bethkane -at- tcisolutions -dot- com>
To: <TECHWR-L -at- LISTS -dot- RAYCOMM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 2000 12:15:18 -0700

I would never define user docs that way ("user docs...are what you use once
you already know the basics").

I've always written user docs as if they're the only training the users are
going to get. They're aimed at the beginner as well as the intermediate to
advanced user. You never know whether the users will get any training. You
have to allow for the possibility they won't, or else you're likely to get a
whole lot of calls to tech support. My user docs contain all the how-tos,
with the possible exception of highly technical how-tos.

What you're calling user docs is what I'd call a reference manual,
containing deeper details (more on the why, not just the how), more
technical background, troubleshooting info, etc.

If I were to write training docs I'd add more training-like things -- things
a user's guide doesn't have -- such as objectives, summaries and practice
lessons. I'd also format them even more openly (more white space), and add
boxes and the like.

Beth Kane
Senior Technical Writer
Total Control Information Inc.
bethkane -at- tcisolutions -dot- com <mailto:bethkane -at- tcisolutions -dot- com>

-----Original Message-----
Geoff says:
..Training docs are intended
to get the reader comfortable enough to use the software with a basic degree
of efficiency and (ideally) give the reader the confidence to learn more
things by consulting the user documentation. The user docs, on the other
hand, are what you use once you already know the basics of a product and
want to learn how to do more.

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