Re: OT: Tech writers and cookbooks

Subject: Re: OT: Tech writers and cookbooks
From: Tothscribe -at- aol -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001 08:56:28 EST

Wow, it's nice to know I'm far from the only cooking
technical writer!

I'm also documenting my recipes, and am trying to
wedge as many of them into the same standard format
as possible. I've found that I can get away with a
modified version of my software-instruction format.
It's a two-column stepped format like this:

Running TV Projector in Director's Office:

Set Lighting: Log into touchscreen using (pwd)
Tap "Power" to close shades.
Return to main menu.
Tap "Lights" and choose Setting 3

Set Tuner: Chose Projector Sources...

etc. (Sadly, these *are* all the steps for running the projector at the Director's office, but usability is a
different complaint.)

For recipes, it is adapted as:

Sauce
Blend: 2 T cheese
1 c milk
1/2 c yogurt
Stir over low heat
until thick ~10 min.

Add to sauce: 2 c peas
1 c corn

yadda yadda.

---

As a recipe format, I like it because I can scan down
one column and have all my ingredients listed. Even
more than bad indexes and paragraph step descriptions,
I hate being halfway through a recipe before I see
"and add something that I never warned you was part of
this recipe." That's just plain sloppy writing!

As a software doc format, it's testing well because
the experienced users can glance down the left column
to be reminded of the basic step order, while the
inexperienced users can get their hands held with
every little step on the right column.

I'm still working on the perfect recipe index, though.
There are so many factors - this week I'm looking for
yam recipes; next week I'll be looking for recipes using
rice, and last week I was categorizing everything by
WW Points. I don't think there's anything short of a
machine-searchable ingredient list that ever could be
the perfect cookbook index!

Nea Dodson



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