RE: Software Manual Overview

Subject: RE: Software Manual Overview
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 11:26:39 -0600

A "Quality Software Manual" includes

1. everything a user needs to know to install the host hardware
2. everything a user needs to know to install the software
3. everything a user needs to know operate the software
4. As much trouble-shooting information as possible

All of this information must be organized and written in a way that does not
insult the reader and allows the reader quick access to whatever information
the reader needs when she needs it. AND is not so large as to intimidate the

Given the above, there is no global template for good manuals. It has to be
big enough, small enough, detailed enough, organized just so, and most of
all, be appropo to all tasks.

BUT, here is a list to consider:

Introducing ...
Getting up to speed on...
Doing/Building/etc. a task
When bad software happens to good people (trouble shooting)

Apdx: UI reference
Apdx: Error codes and what they mean


In other words, get the reader using the software as fast as possible and
then handle specific tasks. Make sure you cover the UI and trouble

Your best bet is to consider how you learned the software and what you
needed to know, etc.
Then begin extrapolating to your larger audience (i.e., how they learn
software and what they need to know and what they are asked to do with the

Good luck.

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Software Manual Overview: From: tom -dot- green -at- iwon -dot- com

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