Re: User Guide - best practices

Subject: Re: User Guide - best practices
From: Sandy Harris <pashley -at- storm -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 28 Jul 2002 11:21:31 -0400

Lisa Conway wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm a tech writer for a software company. My question concerns our user
> guide. It is almost 500 pages and includes both descriptions of every window
> and the various tasks a user would perform when using our application. We
> also have another shorter manual for the same application that only includes
> the tasks. My question is should we just go with the task based manual or is
> it necessary to have a user guide that includes detailed descriptions of
> every window? Our users are not always very computer savvy. ...
> What is the current best practice for a software manual?

I'd be inclined to split it up into a reference section and a
tutorial section.

The reference section gets all the detail available, anything a user
want. Not just window descriptions, but things like info on the file
you use for storing the data, since someone building an application that
interacts with yours might need that. It can be organised
perhaps in sections. User commands, administrator-only commands, window
titles, ...

The tutorial section describes user tasks, and cross-references to the
reference section as necessary.

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User Guide - best practices: From: Lisa Conway

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