Re: Newbie looking for help on user guides/manuals

Subject: Re: Newbie looking for help on user guides/manuals
From: kcronin -at- daleen -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Mar 2002 10:37:27 -0700

It's not clear to me whether you're going to be writing a manual, or
creating an online help system that you can activate while using your
product. Help is usually written in a task-focused manner, while manuals
can be task-oriented, or overall references, or any number of other types.
If you're completely new to this, I'd recommend you buy some books or take
a class or two to ramp up your knowledge. The STC can also be helpful.

Perhaps converting the existing PDF into a Help file using Robo or
whatever will help illuminate the challenges that arise in creating
documentation. Tech writing seems simple at first, until you try to do it.
Then it gets hard. But then it gets easier, as you encounter (and solve)
the problems that arise.

For each of us, a huge part of our job is deciding what is the most
effective way to communicate information to the user. One of the first
steps towards doing this is recognizing the ways that are NOT effective.
Before plunging into a new approach for your product's documentation, take
some time to evaluate it. Where does it succeed, and where does it fall
short? If you're new to the product, you're an excellent guinea pig to
test the existing documentation. Note the parts that help you, AND note
the parts that confuse or frustrate you.

Then work on making it better. This may or may not involve creating a new
kind of documentation for it, such as online help, quick start guides,
etc. Good luck!

- Keith Cronin

The other day, this friend of mine started saying something to me about me
being self-absorbed or something. But enough about him - how does my hair

Check it out! Get some cool freebies when you buy RoboHelp! You'll receive
SnagIt screen capture software and a 10% discount voucher for RoboHelp
Consulting. This special offers expires March 29, 2002.

Have you looked at the new content on TECHWR-L lately?
See and check it out.

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