RE: Notes, tips, and warnings... oh my!

Subject: RE: Notes, tips, and warnings... oh my!
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2001 11:09:00 -0700

Steve asks: "Do notes, tips, and warnings really help, or are they just
something we do because we can?"

Pete adds: Your observations about Notes, tips, warnings are dead on! Just
as you tend
to ignore them, so, too, do the users who see these things by the railroad
car full. I was told by a user, once , that if I wanted the users to
actually READ notes, tips and warnings and the like, EMBED them in the body
text. Like the sidebars that appear in many college texts, most users
ignore the text we set aside as a note, a tip or a warning. It isn't that
the information isn't important or valid, it's that they have all been there
and done that; even got the T-shirt to prove it.

IMHO, this type of thinking eventually leads to the flattening of all
information. I agree that you shouldn't overuse notes, warnings, and
cautions (NW&C). This does desensitize readers to important information.
Also, placing numerous NW&C interspersed in a procedure does break it up.
If you really have that many problems/warnings for a procedure, then you
have an organizational problem that is not solved by embedding the warnings
NOR by alternating steps with warnings.

As Pete says, readers don't read notes. But it has been observed that
readers don't read steps either. So, for those of us who actually read
procedures, we should attempt to keep informational priorities that are
visually consistent.

just my .02,


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RE: Notes, tips, and warnings... oh my!: From: Pete Sanborn

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