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"A few years ago I found it easy to get lured into using more graphics than
necessary. I have now developed a rule for when to use a graphics. I'll use
it to explain a complex screen [...] This excludes most error and
confirmation messages, and most straight forward menus. Most topics in my
manuals have one or less screen shots included in them. The screen shots I
do use are often "marked up" to highlight or point out significant
The STC's journal Technical communication published an article on screen
shots in a special issue last year. I think the issue was called
"visualizing information" or something to that effect. When you described
your approach, you summarized some of the main points quite neatly. I know
what you mean about manuals that are like a catalogue of all the windows in
the software's interface. Probably most inexperienced writers have made that
mistake at least once!
orion2 -at- videotron -dot- ca