Re: Writing: better or worse after years on the job?

Subject: Re: Writing: better or worse after years on the job?
From: CHRISTINE ANAMEIER <CANAMEIE -at- email -dot- usps -dot- gov>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 11:24:08 -0400

Jessica Nealon had this anecdote:
<< I consulted a senior writer here about what to call a GUI feature.
Because it had no title and wasn't a section, I referred to it as a
"box," as in "move the data from the box on the left to the box on the
right." That was the best I could come up with. Her response was to
call them "window panes." As a writer, I can see that "window pane"
is more descriptive, elegant, and official than "box." The question
is what does the user think? I know that if I was the user, I would
have no idea what "window pane" referred to on the screen.>>

Yes yes yes! I've seen docs that talk about "radio buttons" and "combo
boxes" as if the average user knew those terms. Now and then we get
discussions on the list about what the correct technical name for some
particular widget is, but if WE don't know what it's called, you can
bet our users don't know either and won't recognize the term if we do
unearth it. At that point somebody will want to create a helpful key
that illustrates and explains what a radio button is, but that's not
the answer either (why should our users learn our jargon?).

Some jargon slips past me too. The other day I caught myself saying
(although not writing) "launch," as in "launch an application," and
suddenly I remembered that in my first TW job I objected to that word
because it sounded preposterous to me at the time. (Still does, if I
stop and think about it.)

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