Re: consistency in terminology

Subject: Re: consistency in terminology
From: "Jeff Hanvey" <jewahe -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "Sella Rush" <sellar -at- mail -dot- apptechsys -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 22:14:17 -0500

Yes, this kind of detailed work is obsessive. But it is a good kind of

Yes, monotony gets boring. But when you're creating a reference resource
that users will use to look up specific topics as they need them (as opposed
to a novel that will be read from front cover to back cover), that monotony
will not be apparant. After that time, however, the user has certain
expectations that must be met. If you change the terms, s/he may believe
that you changed the operation, and get frustrated trying to figure out what
you mean.

The bottom line is that users don't want to wade through the language to get
to the meaning.

For example, I am currently editing a Preventive Maintenance manual. The
writer before me used "check", "inspect", "verify", and "observe" a lot.
While these are perfectly good words, she did not use them consistently (or
in some cases, correctly - I am still trying to figure out how one can
"observe for abnormal noises"). Part of my rewrites will be to put all of
these commands into easier, more direct language (i.e., listen for abnormal
noises - and I hope to get even more specific, perhaps describing the
general type of noise this machine makes when the part has gone bad). I am
also changing commands so that they read exactly the same way.

I don't rate consistency in terminology as a make-or-break item in a manual,
but I do think it is as important as spelling the words right. However,
unlike spelling, if some passages stray, I let them.


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