Re: Document layout: Whose decision?

Subject: Re: Document layout: Whose decision?
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 14:12:55 -0800

Sunshine QT wrote:
> I am curious:
> To what extent is it your decision as the tech
> writer/tech writing department how to lay out manuals,
> and to what extent is it the programmers' decision?

It sounds to me as if you know the answers - you just want
affirmation that what you're thinking is reasonable.

So far as I can tell from your posting, it is.

You're talking about your area of responsibility, and you're
sticking with accepted policy. Unless the programmer has a very good
reason for the change, you're on firm ground.

That doesn't mean that you shouldn't be diplomatic, nor that you
should ignore the programmer's comments. After all, he does
represent a certain group of users. But it does put you in a strong

One thing that your post doesn't make clear is whether the
documentation is for the programmer's personal reference, in-house
use or for end users. If the first two, the matter may be trivial.
You might simply tell the programmer that, if he wants any changes,
he can make them himself in his own private copies, but that you'll
stick to the style guide for other purposes. If, as your posting
seems to imply, you think that the request is a control game, that
would defeat his purpose without antagonizing him.

Of course, you don't have to antagonize some people; they've already
decided to take offence, and, no matter what you do, you'll be
wrong. However, don't leap to conclusions. Try diplomacy first.

Bruce Byfield 317.833.0313 bbyfield -at- progeny -dot- com
Director of Marketing and Communications, Progeny Linux Systems
Contributing Editor, Maximum Linux

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Of the hounds that wait outside your door."
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