Re: Warm and Fuzzy Documentation

Subject: Re: Warm and Fuzzy Documentation
From: "Lisa Bronson" <Lisa -dot- Bronson -at- ipaper -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 29 Jun 2001 07:55:52 -0500

Another thought, in line with Keith Cronin's advice to "Add some warm
fuzzy elements to the structure/layout of the document,
rather than to its actual fonts. For example, add a slightly cutesie
heading to the beginning of each section like "How Does This Thing-a-ma-jig

Last year, I wrote a manual about an ultrasonic welder for attaching pour
spouts to the sides of cardboard milk and juice cartons. The service
people didn't like the old manual for a variety of reasons, one of which
was the interspersion of "How it works" info in the middle of procedures
for setting up and running the machine. I added a preface, with a list of
the chapters in the manual, and a little blurb about each one. The
Introduction section's blurb said: "This section describes how the spout
applicator system works. The information in this section is not required to
use the system; but if you're curious, and are interested in knowing more
about the workings of the system, you can read about it here." The first
heading in the Introduction section? "How does it work?" :-)

I wanted to make sure that our service people and customers knew that this
was a totally new manual, so I made some other changes. Instead of a
3-ring binder, I used 19-hole punch. Instead of the standard gray cover, I
used blue. I kept the tone as friendly (I guess you could even say warm
and fuzzy) as I could, writing as if I were talking to them rather than
writing to them.

And I broke with tradition by including some custom-drawn cartoons. (I
can't draw a straight line with a ruler, but Bob from our assembly shop did
a wonderful job!) My favorite one shows a mechanic putting his tools away
as his boss and a co-worker come walking up. He says, "You're too late
guys! I got it all set up myself, and I didn't even hafta use the
manual!!" In the background, you see a line of leaking cartons coming out
of the machine. ;-) Bob also took the liberty of researching and using
real hieroglyphics on the icon description panel cartoon (captioned: "What
are these?? Who draws 'em? Martians??")--if someone ever looks up his
hieroglyphics in an Egyptian history book (OK, remote, but possible!), they
will find that it says, "Give ye cakes and beer."

Who says tech writing can't be creative??? ;-)



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