RE: % of Users Who Read Software Documentation

Subject: RE: % of Users Who Read Software Documentation
From: "Jane Carnall" <jane -dot- carnall -at- digitalbridges -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 7 Feb 2002 11:35:42 -0000

Barbara Yanez asks:
>Does anyone know of any studies that have been done as to the percentage of
>users who do actually do read documentation - (particularly in the software

I probably recommended this the last time the topic came up, but I'll rec it
again because I think it's a great article:
(Bruce Tognazzini on Conflict Catcher by David Pogue: "When was the last
time you curled up in bed with a really good user-manual just for the sheer
joy of reading it? Never? Think that is some immutable law of nature, like
the one that dictates all textbooks must be dull as dirt? 'Tain't so,

Further, in this article he describes the kind of software manual *I* would
like to write:

1) Supply a (real) manual.
2) Explain the problem being solved
3) Present the concepts, not just the features.
4) Give 'em more than they deserve
5) Make it enjoyable to read

One and two are elements that no one disagrees with. Mostly. Three and four
are trickier: (a surprising number of SMEs say "Oh, they don't need to know
that!" or "Oh, but EVERYBODY knows that!"). Number 5 is a goal to aim for:
not just to write well, but to write with both technical accuracy and verve.
Make them *want* to read the manual. That's the kind of technical writer I
want to be when I grow up, never mind whether I'm an apple or a peach... <g>

Jane Carnall
Technical Writer, Digital Bridges, Scotland
Unless stated otherwise, these opinions are mine, and mine alone. Apologies
for the long additional sig: it is added automatically and outwith my


E-mail is an informal method of communication and may be subject to data corruption, interception and unauthorised amendment for which Digital Bridges Ltd will accept no liability. Therefore, it will normally be inappropriate to rely on information contained on e-mail without obtaining written confirmation.

This e-mail may contain confidential and/or privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient (or have received this e-mail in error) please notify the sender immediately and destroy this e-mail. Any unauthorized copying, disclosure or distribution of the material in this e-mail is strictly forbidden.


Did you know you can get RoboHelp certified?
To learn how, visit Be sure to also check out
our special pricing offers and promotions for RoboHelp 2002.

You are currently subscribed to techwr-l as: archive -at- raycomm -dot- com
To unsubscribe send a blank email to leave-techwr-l-obscured -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Send administrative questions to ejray -at- raycomm -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

% of Users Who Read Software Documentation: From: Barbara Yanez

Previous by Author: RE: Hiring Publications Managers
Next by Author: RE: % of Users Who Read Software Documentation
Previous by Thread: % of Users Who Read Software Documentation
Next by Thread: RE: % of Users Who Read Software Documentation

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads