RE: Variations on a task

Subject: RE: Variations on a task
From: Tom Murrell <trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 12 Apr 2000 11:36:03 -0700 (PDT)

Melanie Fielek asks:
> So, how do y'all deal with documenting several
> different ways of accomplishing the same task?

Salette Latas responds, in part:
> I only document one method, giving preference to the
> simplest and most
> versatile. I prefer to document menu selections
> ("From the File menu, select Open.") because the
> user can access them with either the keyboard or the
> mouse.

I agree with Salette's approach. I try to keep it
simple for the user. I have provided a selection of
"Shortcuts" in a section of its own for the more
sophisticated user. But I take the approach that I'll
give you one way of accomplishing a task, the best or
most efficient way if possible, but at least a way
that will work.

Since I insist on testing every procedure that goes
into documentation, both for accuracy and for
completeness, I find that there is seldom enough time
to test all possible ways of doing things. And even
constantly repeating the same instructions (Either do
it this way or that way or another way) seems to
clutter up a procedure with choices users don't really

However, I'm sure there are times when you need to
present all of the choices.

Tom Murrell
Senior Technical Writer
Alliance Data Systems
Columbus, Ohio
mailto:trmurrell -at- yahoo -dot- com

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