RE: They don't need our stinkin' manuals?

Subject: RE: They don't need our stinkin' manuals?
From: "Michael West" <mike -dot- west -at- oz -dot- quest -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2000 15:05:09 +1100

Chantel Brathwaite writes:

> Many dummies books present solid
> technical information in a lively way --
> I just think that if something is
> technically accurate and it is "enjoyable"
> people are more apt to refer to it,
> or to even *gasp* read about features
> they don't have questions about at the
> present moment.

You're quite right to remind us that technical
writing can be lively and fun without any detriment
to its true purpose.

On the other hand, I've seen attempts at humor and
'fun' in user's guides end up in an embarrassing mess,
so in general I'd advise journeymen tech writers to leave
the gags to big-time outfits like the 'Dummies' folks, who
have the formulas and the editorial resources to make that
approach work. Not that I'm advocating a cold and inhuman
way of writing either.

What we have in the 'Dummies' type books, I believe, is
really a new sub-genre of technical writing; a sort of anti-
establishment pose that capitalizes on the fact that many
of the 'authorized' user guides have failed to correctly assess
their audience's needs.

Michael West
Melbourne, Australia

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