Horton book

Subject: Horton book
From: "Ivan Weiss" <ivan -dot- weiss -at- centurytel -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 7 Dec 2001 09:06:11 -0800

Daniel Kamman wrote:

skwpt wrote, in part:
"I have a book by
William Horton on "Designing and Writing Online
Documentation: Help Files to Hypertext" but I think
it's out of print."

That out-of-print book (ISBN 0-47150-7725)
is the first edition of the in-print second edition:
Designing & Writing Online Documentation: Hypermedia for Self Supporting
by William K. Horton (ISBN 0-47130-6355)
which is available new (and, currently, used) from
both half.com and amazon.com

I read Horton's book (Second Edition, very much in print) recently for my
class in Writing Online Help. It seemed at first to be woefully out of date,
and merely stating the obvious.

But then I started opening to a page of Horton, any page, and applying the
guidelines on it to an example of online help in a software application, any
software application.

I found a lot of help files that, simply stated, fell short. What's more, I
found that in some cases, I could spot immediately *where* they fell short.
Just for the hell of it, I rewrote a few paragraphs to see if I could do it
better, and I think that in some cases, I succeeded.

Now I'm in school, and not working full-time, so I can tinker with this
stuff. Somebody under the gun to produce documentation probably can't afford
the luxury of reading Horton. But IMO this book is pure gold. It helped me
focus entirely on what, why and how.

If I may be so bold as to suggest it, there are more than a few Help writers
out there who might profit from rereading Horton.
Ivan Weiss http://www.nwguild.org
Vashon WA http://www.unionrecord.com


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