RE: About that whacky MS MoS for TPs

Subject: RE: About that whacky MS MoS for TPs
From: "Brierley, Sean" <Sean -at- Quodata -dot- Com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 21 Jun 2001 11:32:51 -0400


> -----Original Message-----
> From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com [SMTP:kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com]
> Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2001 11:20 AM
> Subject: Re: About that whacky MS MoS for TPs
> >Sean wrote:'s not really such a big deal for me. It's not worth a
> battle.
> >and also wrote: But, I am curious to know how these maroons came up with
> such garbage.
> __________________________
> Based on those two conflicting statements, it sounds like it IS a big deal
> to you.
<vbg> Yes, I always use the word "maroon" to signify something in which I
have a deep, personal interest and emotional stake. <vbg>

Not really, though, your logic is flawed. I can perceive something as being
garbage but, at the same time, not be bothered by it in any significant way.
Having the opinion doesn't necessarily mean I am really affected by the

> But it also sounds like you're outvoted.
Absolutely. It's actually not a democracy, but I'm not the boss, either <g>.

> Style guides are by their
> nature ARBITRARY, and SOMEBODY has to make the decisions. If you're not in
> a position to make (or at least influence) the decision,
Well, I am actually in a position to influence the decision, by offering my
opinion. I have chosen not too. There are other battles and I don't want to
be seen as always causing conflict <g>.

> you're better off
> to just deal with it.
I thought that was what I was doing. However, I do have an opinion and am
curious about the opinions of my peers, so I asked.

> One advantage of using the MS guide (or ANY guide) exclusively is that
> then there is only ONE place to look for rules. I worked in a shop that
> used the MS guide and their own guide, and you had to look everything up
> in BOTH guides, which was a pain in the butt. The rule there seemed to be
> "we follow the MS guide, except for in certain instances." And the other
> guide contained 40+ pages of "certain instances." No fun.
I don't see what the problem is. You cannot rely solely on the MS book,
anyway, because it is not comprehensive. For example, where does it deal
with the number of spaces after a period, or the like. Indeed, I would
recommend saying, use these published style guides as a basis and here's our
local addendum that overrides specific things in those published guides.
After a while, you'll get to know the overrides anyway, as they'll become
routine. Or, your editor will snag them.

> I'm a big advocate of setting some simple rules and following them,
> whether everybody loves them or not (this is an important condition;
> you'll never please EVERYBODY with your style decisions). Then you have a
> decent chance at some consistency between writers and documents.
I agree about consistency. However, why is it not consistent to say, follow
the MS Manual of Style for everything except we will not always capitalize
the "H" in help.

> As far as where that "garbage" came from, remember, that's just the style
> guide used for that company to describe their products.
Okay, agreed, it is Microsoft's style guide for their company. However, it
is pretty hokey in some areas and why are those Microsoft writers more
qualified than I to make a decision on something like that? Does it not seem
more reasonable to use a lowercase "h" for online help, for example? Could
not the Microsoft writers have made a mistake with that?

> And many of their
> products have those annoying names with CreaTive CapiTaliZation and/or
> CombinedPseudoWords.
Agreed. And, if we are talking about a product name, that usually comes from
marketing not technical writing, I have no beef with the funkycaps. However,
consider the word "Help." It's not a trademark or product name. It's like
using an initial cap on every instance of the word "Book," or "Manual," even
when not part of a title or proper noun.

> It was NOT written to be the Style Guide of All Civilization (although
> it's rapidly becoming exactly that, I'll admit). Its truest application is
> simply as a guide for writers who are documenting MS's large catalog of
> products.
I am not documenting any MS product. Merely, the product I do document runs
on a Microsoft operating system.

> Because so many of us use their products (and/or work with products
> designed to play nicely with their products), somebody had the bright idea
> that people outside of MS might also find the book useful. So far I've
> found it to be the most useful guide I've seen for general use with
> documenting Windows-based products.
It is useful because it is published, available, and consistent. That does
not mean it is correct. That does not mean the maroons who wrote it made
reasonable decisions for every usage. Come on, "dimmed"? Online "H"elp?

BTW, I say tomato . . .. LOL!


sean -at- quodata -dot- com


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