Re: writing to different needs

Subject: Re: writing to different needs
From: "Tracy Boyington" <tracy_boyington -at- okcareertech -dot- org>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 03 Jan 2001 13:31:36 -0600

All right, I needed to go to Wal-Mart at lunch anyway, and I was out of Easy Mac, so I have the box in front of me right now...

Tracy Boyington tracy_boyington -at- okcareertech -dot- org
Oklahoma Department of Career & Technology Education
Stillwater, OK

>>> Michele Davis <michele -at- krautgrrl -dot- com> 01/03/01 12:54PM >>>
<<The Kraft example is just one. Take a look at a mac-n-cheese box. They cram the instructions on the side, which is skinny and cramped. The entire back of the box is a marketing piece: "After school or
anytime..." and a huge picture of a box of Easy Mac. >>

On the box I have, the instructions are on the top panel. The entire panel is 8.5 X 3.5 inches and the instructions (including graphics) take up a 3 X 5 section. The font is approximately the same height as a 14 pt Times Roman. Instructions are given for the microwave only.

Hmmm... opening the box, I find individual packages that also have instructions for the microwave only... no mention of stovetop use. Either Michele's package is different, she made the whole thing up, or those 10-year-olds *really* have problems with reading and comprehension. ;-) So there goes that experiment.

However, I have to say that the package in front of me has very clear directions

<< Think in terms of someone whose native language isn't English---wouldn't it be more appropriate to dump the marketing pitch and delineate the instructions in a nice design that indicates the differences between low-fat production, stove top production, and microwave production? >>

Are you talking about the outside box? Mine has no marketing pitch on the individual packages.

<< How as writers can we be more sensitive to people whose primary language isn't English? >>

As writers, we should be sensitive to our own audiences. If they happen to include those whose language is different from ours, it's an issue that should be addressed. But if you know, for example, that the product you're documenting is designed to be used by someone who reads English at a post-secondary level, I see no reason to write for a hungry 10-year-old.

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