RE: Creating a Documentation Kit

Subject: RE: Creating a Documentation Kit
From: "Lydia Wong" <lydiaw -at- fpoint -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 14:02:45 -0400

Cara asked about an IT development kit described what she has proposed:
To meet the need, I've proposed the idea of a documentation kit that
contains a MS Word template (this is an internal standards); a how-to guide;
and a pre-formatted Excel project spreadsheet that will help team leads
plan and track the progress of their documentation. I'll be available to
help plan the projects, review drafts and provide editing support. The
managers involved with this project are very enthusiastic about the kit and
getting their people trained on it.

This sounds like a great kit, Cara. I can't imagine your job--sounds like a
challenge! However, you seem to have put together some good plans on how to
undertake this documentation project.

The one thing that came to my mind when reading this was your MS Word
template. I understand that it is a company standard, but in my experience,
people who aren't familiar with Word don't like to use it, make mistakes
when using it, and kind of make a mess. To us, it's a natural tool, but not
to everyone else.

Any chance you can have a web-based data entry form that replicates the Word
template in structure? People wouldn't have to deal with styles or
formatting, but could just type data in at prompts to complete forms. These
forms could be saved to a database or XML files, then you could use them to
create your docs.

No, I haven't done this, though I've read about others on the forum who
have. It just seems like by restricting what people can and can't do (in a
good way) and by not giving them a "blank page" as Susan Gallagher describes
it, you might help them out a lot in terms of their cooperation and comfort,
and help yourself avoid stripping out "formatting" that good-intentioned
people added to the Word files.

Just my $0.02. I'm sure other folks will have some good recommendations.

Lydia Wong
Technical Writer
FarPoint Technologies, Inc.

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Creating a Documentation Kit: From: Cara O Sullivan

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