RE: Symbols in product names

Subject: RE: Symbols in product names
From: Sean Hower <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2002 07:41:03 -0800 (PST)

Susan Patrick asks
Which do you believe is correct?
a) Write the product name B<bullet>O<bullet>B every time, as Marketing
b) Write the product name B<bullet>O<bullet>B on its first appearance in
each book, then switch to BOB.
c) Write the product name BOB throughout each book, and leave the bullets in the cover logo graphic only.
d) Something entirely different.

This really is a legal question that you should check with your legal staff about, but I think Geoff Hart's answer makes the most sense.

I would opt for a). I've worked on two projects where the first half the product name was italicized and the second have was in all capitals, and we went ahead and wrote it that way throughout the doc. Other coworkers have had to do similar things, in the vein of spelling names like sUsaN, or some such nonsense. Was it rough? Yep. But that's why we get paid the BIG bucks. <g /> The practical reason for writing the name out correctly is that it will definitely affect the users understanding of the name of the product because of a lack of consistency. If marketing is calling it one thing, and the docs are calling it something else, who should the user believe, and who should your internal staff believe?

People have mentioned Frame's variables. You can do the same kind of thing in word with either fields or autocorrect (someone I think mentioned autocorrect). Then, all you end up having to do is a field update on the entire document if the product name changes (and of course it will).

Using synonyms is also a good way to cut down on the product name, but you want to make sure your users know what you're referring to. I always treat the product as an actor and almost always refer to it by name (taking into consideration asthetics). You could put an explanation of what synonyms are in the introduction, and also include them in a glossary. Limit your synonyms to one or two items so the users can quickly grasp your usage.

Sean Hower - tech writer

"Whatever you do, do NOT let your editorial decisions be made by the squiggly spell-checking lines in Word!" ~Keith Cronin, Techwr-l irritant ;-)

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