Re: Placement of Question and Answer Sections in a User Guide

Subject: Re: Placement of Question and Answer Sections in a User Guide
From: "Jo Baer" <jbaer -at- tcfbank -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 12:55:04 -0600

My philosophy for pretty much any procedure, policy, etc., is to put the
information where the user needs it. This may mean you have a chunk of
information followed by questions and answers, another chunk of information
followed by questions and answers, and so on.

Think back to some of the better textbooks and training materials you've seen.
Often they treat a digestible chunk of information, possibly give a one- or
two-sentence summary, then follow it with questions and answers (or just
questions if you're supposed to provide the answers).

If your goal is to avoid making the user think, I think some variation on this
strategy is a good approach. After all, thinking about where the Q & A is, and
whether to use it, is going to be as foreign to some users as thinking through
the material they have just read.

Jo, whose philosophies have yet to make her rich, or even famous

Jo Baer
Senior Technical Writer
TCF National Bank
Minneapolis, Minnesota
jbaer -at- -dot- tcfbank -dot- com

The mome rath isn't born that could outgrabe me.

Nicol Williamson

"Douglas S. Bailey (AL)" wrote:

> I'm creating a software user guide, and am planning to include a list of
> commonly asked questions, though not necessarily as an official FAQ. Do you
> think it would make sense to include it at the front of the document,
> immediately after the (quite small) installation section? Or is the more
> traditional method (to include it at the back, perhaps as an Appendix)
> better?
> I'm trying to help the user avoid having to think, since that generally is
> how they prefer to operate. (No offense intended.) IMO when a user decides
> he needs help with something, he generally has a question he wants answered.
> I think it might be easer for the user to find the Q&A section if it's right
> up front. Of course, the answers will refer the user to the appropriate
> sections deeper in the user guide for more information.
> Is there a glaring flaw in my strategy that I'm overlooking?
> --Doug

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Layout for hard-copy documents: From: Victoria Whitehorne
Placement of Question and Answer Sections in a User Guide: From: Douglas S. Bailey (AL)

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