RE: Humor in technical writing

Subject: RE: Humor in technical writing
From: "Amy Probst" <amy -at- amyprobst -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 2000 10:36:12 -0400

I've been writing job aids for a new university-wide financial software
system (Banner). Because this is my first techwriting job, I was really
quite clueless as to what was expected of me, so took a stab and created
what I thought would be well-received by and genuinely helpful to the user
(within the guidelines given, of course, which were sparse).

Because the content is pretty boring, I included humorous quotations in the
footer of each page (I've pasted a random sampling below my name). I held
my breath while my boss looked it over the first time, but he cracked up and
really liked it. We had to make it through two more levels of review, but
the content is sound and nobody complained about the humor.

And though the intent is to keep the user's brain from numbing on the job,
it's been a heck of a lot of fun for me, too. By the way, I've hand-picked
a quality collection of quotes (sorry) that I'd be happy to pass along.

Amy Probst
Detroit
me -at- amyprobst -dot- com

ps: By the way, I'm interested in hearing the wisdom of the ages on this
topic; there may well be aspects that my gut feeling isn't taking into
account. Maybe there's a distinction to made regarding humor in
instructional materials vs. technical...?

"It's so hard to work in groups when you're omnipotent."
-Q from Star Trek: TNG

"In America, anybody can be president. That's one of the risks you take."
-Adlai Stevenson

"Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler."
-Albert Einstein

"A child of five could understand this! Fetch me a child of five."
-Rusty Burress

"Hit any user to continue."
-Gerry McAvoy

"Knowing is half the battle."
-G.I. Joe

"Caution: Cape does not enable user to fly."
-Label of Batman Costume





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