Re: What sayest me... on Worthless TC Degrees

Subject: Re: What sayest me... on Worthless TC Degrees
From: Jo Francis Byrd <jbyrd -at- byrdwrites -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 2000 12:02:28 -0600

Kathi Knill wrote in part (and I am extracting only only one paragraph :

> >>> Amen to that Beth. When I first got in to tech writing, my mother (who is
> a librarian turned lawyer) asked what I was going to be doing as a tw. I told
> her it is basically about writing those manuals that go with software (that is
> my focus anyway). Her response was "Oh good. I hope you write manuals that
> people can understand. The ones that I have tried to use speak in a language
> that no lay person can understand. What is worse is -- you can never find
> anything. The book is never organized in a clear way and the
> index doesn't use words that the lay person would recognize." I stop quoting
> now, but she did go on for a while (what do you want, she is getting old.)
> Just passing this along -- I heard it from the "USER"!!!!!

Don't blame your Mother's going on and on and on and on.... about the bad
indexing on her age, Kathi, blame it on her librarian background!

I have both my degrees in library science. My BA had a double major of history,
it was my minor on my master's. Good indexing is one of my hot spots. If a
reference book does not have a good index, it's worthless as far as locating
information. When I am forced to use the software manual or the help system
(yes, I'm one of THOSE who never read the directions if I can avoid it, so why
am I doing that for a living?!), I go first to the index.

Needless to say, I always make sure my documentation has a good index. Creating
the index is not something I enjoy doing. It's a pain. BUT! I owe the user a way
to FIND the information. This documentation, whether hardcopy or online is for
the benefit of the USER. I know how infuriated and frustrated I get when I can't
find the information I need, so I try my best to create a GOOD index. I try to
create the kind of documentation I want to have when I'm trying to find out how
to do something.


Jo Byrd

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