Re: documenting parametised messages

Subject: Re: documenting parametised messages
From: Dick Margulis <margulis -at- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 26 May 2003 18:19:33 -0400

David O'Brien wrote:

We are creating a document that includes error messages, the situation that led to the message and available solutions. In many cases the error message is generated from a single parametised phrase, such as "Expected (0) values but only (1) were provided". This could manifest itself to the user as "Expected 3 values but only 2 were provided" or something similar.

Does anyone have experience or suggestions as to how this should be documented? e.g., insert typical values with notes explaining possible variations, keep the the parameter entry points (probably not a good idea) or something else?


Know thine audience.

In similar (not identical) situations, I've taken the algebraic approach, using italic n, m, p, etc. to represent as many variable values as there might be in the expression. So, in your example, I would write "Expected _n_ values but only _m_ were provided." That would still require an explanation, and it is an approach I would use _only_ if I were confident that such notation would be familiar to the audience. If I were writing a help file for low-skill data entry clerks, I would not use algebraic notation.


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documenting parametised messages: From: David O'Brien

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