RE: instructions

Subject: RE: instructions
From: "Bondira:Joan" <jbondira -at- reesebros -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2001 11:44:52 -0500

Sharon Burton-Hardin wrote:

"To bring this on topic, recipe writing is indeed technical writing. Most
recipe books are so far over my head that I am sure I cannot be the intended

There are indeed people like you, Sharon. I once had a friend ask me if I
needed some help in the kitchen, to which I responded that yes, I would
appreciate it if she chopped an onion for me. I turned around a few minutes
later to discover that she was chopping the onion without having peeled it!
It seems that I omitted step number one from my instructions. So should
suggestions for augmentation of a basic product that appear so often on food
packaging say "peeled and chopped onion"?

Maybe the answer lies in *why* we are concerned about the user. Of course,
we are all good and kind people, so we simply do. There are, however, other
considerations. In many, if not most cases, it is because the user is the
customer, whose repeat business we wish to win. In this particular case, if
a small percentage of ten year-olds (I happen to believe it's probably
small) cook the macaroni and cheese twice, and render it inedible, will they
never buy it again? (this is assuming that they were the ones who bought it
in the first place.) I suppose that's truly a question for marketing-type
minds to ponder, but my guess would be that the kids would recognize that
they did something incorrectly, learn from their mistake, and continue to
buy the product. Certainly, in the best of all possible worlds, the
macaroni and cheese would come out perfectly 100% instead of 95% of the
time, but would that necessitate that the instructions address every silly
thing that could possibly happen? There goes the marketing on the back
panel because you're going to need that much space, and possibly the side
panels as well. Try selling that to the bean counters, the board of
directors, and the investors.

Having said all that, I've not yet looked at the instructions in question,
and may very well retract everything once I have, so this just might be a
minute or two from all of your lives that you'll never get back.<g>

Joan Bondira
Alleged Technical Writer
(And Occasional Time Vampire)

Develop HTML-based Help with Macromedia Dreamweaver! (STC Discount.)
**NEW DATE/LOCATION!** January 16-17, 2001, New York, NY. or 800-646-9989.

Sponsored by DigiPub Solutions Corp, producers of PDF 2001
Conference East, June 4-5, Baltimore/Washington D.C. area. or toll-free 877/278-2131.

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