TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Kent, you are documenting (in your first example) just the way I do it. It's
clear and effective I think.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Christensen, Kent" <lkchris -at- sandia -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Sent: Thursday, April 13, 2000 10:40 AM
Subject: RE: Variations on a task
> re: ... how do y'all deal with documenting several different ways of
> accomplishing the same task? This simple example shows what I've been
> so far:
> 1. Open a file using one of these methods:
> o From the File menu, select Open.
> o On the toolbar, click the Open button (pic of button).
> 2-n. Next step(s) follow.
> 1. I've been known to place a bolded "-or-" between the two ...
> 1a From the File menu, select Open.
> 1b On the toolbar, click the Open button (pic of button).
> 2. Another way I like is ...
> >From the File menu, select Open (clicking [pic of button] accomplishes
> same thing).
> 3. Or even more compact ...
> Click File/Open or click [pic of button].
> 4. Or high-tech ...
> Open the file and ... ("Open the file" being a hypertext link to a popup
> listing the ways to do it)
> Given the "file/open" example, I'd like to suggest we consider when
> this just how much we are "teaching" our particular software versus how
> we are teaching the operating system, i.e. Windows or Mac O/S or ... .
> If these instructions occur within a particular company--as opposed to in
> mass-market manual--"prerequisites" or available references might be
> assumed. That being, folks know that the operating system often provides
> more than one way of doing things. Really, everyone knows every program
> there is has "file/open." (generalization recognized as subject to
> Yes, it depends on your users. If you expect them to be computer novices
> (who is a computer novice these days?) maybe the long way is best. Is
> program a "beginner" program, i.e. something likely to be the first
> a user purchases or encounters? If your program is for "geeks," give them
> the quick and dirty, i.e. "compact" or "high-tech" alternate.
> I many times wrestle with the notion the user already knows the operating
> system and I should solely concentrate on the software at hand, and offer
> that consideration of this is at least as important as choosing a
> presenation convention.
> Sponsored by Weisner Associates Inc., Online Information Services
> Training & consulting for RoboHELP, Dreamweaver, HTML, and HTML-Based
> More info at http://www.weisner.com/train/ or mailto:training -at- weisner -dot- com -dot-
> Sponsored by IEEE Professional Communication Society. Meet PCS
> members and officers in Booth 304 during exhibit hours at the STC
> Conference, May 21-23. Learn more about us at http://www.ieeepcs.org.
> You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: ltesdell -at- eai -dot- com
> To unsubscribe send a blank email to
leave-techwr-l-22698U -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
> Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit
>http://www.raycomm.com/techwhirl/ for more resources and info.