RE: Style conventions: Pipelines vs. Arrows, Single step style vs . Sentence.

Subject: RE: Style conventions: Pipelines vs. Arrows, Single step style vs . Sentence.
From: KMcLauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 2002 12:33:49 -0400


This is becomming an issue for me.
According to me, any instruction step should have
some indicator of its status... something to make it
stand out from expository stuff as a "Do this"
instruction.

When a section/subsection of a doc has two, three,
four-or-more steps strung together, the step numbers
make it obvious that these are "stuff you should do,
now".

My Customer Support people, and others, keep demanding
that I break procedures down into smaller and smaller
sections -- in other words, sub-headings everywhere.
This does make it easy to see the flow if you are
skimming the ToC. It also makes it easy to find your
spot on the page when looking away from the book
(to perform a task or just to rest your weary eyes...)
and then back to the page.
Both of those are good things.

However, the profusion of sub-sections means that
inevitably some sub-headings will have just a single
step. A step, numbered "1." that is not followed
by a step "2." is just too horrible to conceive. :-)

Other sub-headings will cover multiple steps that are
designated by step numbers.

Elsewhere, I have lists (like "You will need these tools...")
with the elements bulleted.

So, now I'm trying to decide on a visual cue that
could be used both with numbered multiple steps,
and with single-step items to indicate that, yes
these are operations that you must perform.

I want the eye to easily pick from the page which
items are "Do this..." items, from among the "why
you should do this" and "this is how you recognize
that you should do this" etc....

My page is 7.5 inches wide by 9 inches tall, with
side-head space, so I'm already near my limits on
using indents.

I can't use color -- at least not exclusively -- for
that purpose. I'd like to avoid using a particular
standout font, as I already use Courier for command-line
dialogs, and my section/sub-section headings are
sans-serif while my body text is serif. Gotta lose
that ransom-note appearance...

What do others do?

/kevin



> -----Original Message-----
> From: Martin Page [mailto:mpage -at- csl -dot- co -dot- uk]

> Uh, what's wrong with a bullet for a single step?
> (I use a triangular bullet for single steps and numbers for
> procedurs with
> more than one step.)

> "Bonnie Granat" <bgranat -at- editors-writers -dot- info> wrote in message
> news:164874 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> >
> > One step should not be either a numbered item or a bullet,
> nor should the
> > example you showed be used.


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