Re: Principles for proceedure writing
Some more questions to those that prepare product
instructional literature for the gerneral public on
Are there any specific rules that you follow when
writing such literature and why?
There is one rule that I follow in all of my writing, both technical and non-technical. I have it taped to my monitor. Robert Louis Stevenson said it:
"Write so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood."
I try to put myself in the place of the reader and write from their perspective. I assume that the reader is a reasonably well-educated person but not an expert in the current subject matter. Therefore I try to explain complex ideas or technical matters in terms that the average person can understand.
Another rule that I follow is to assume nothing. When I was writing a book on Windows 2000 Server, I had two computers running side-by-side. The Windows 2000 Server beta was on one computer; the second was my Windows 98 production workstation.
The book consisted of step-by-step procedures for performing specific tasks. I would perform a step on the server, take a screen shot in many cases, then describe the step on my workstation. This included telling the reader what they should be seeing on their screen. Some procedures had a dozen or more steps, so it was time-consuming, but I believe that the reader was well served by this approach, which left nothing to chance.
I wrote the book while Windows 2000 was still in beta testing. There were major changes in the interface from one beta release to another, as well as from the betas to the release candidates, so I was constantly rewriting and revising right until the end.
Robert E. Simanski, Owner, Business Pro Services
Publications * Web sites * Proposals * Computer Support
751 South Sugarland Run Drive, Sterling, VA 20164-1328
Voice: 703-404-8665 Fax/Data: 703-404-8156
rsimanski -at- yourpubpro -dot- com * www.businessproservices.com
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Principles for proceedure writing: From: Fred Hone
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