What to use: Buttons, function keys, or both?

Subject: What to use: Buttons, function keys, or both?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 02 Jun 2004 12:51:52 -0400

Emily Allen wondered: <<When documenting buttons on a GUI, is it also recommended to also include the function keys command (e.g. F1 - F12)?>>

The keyboard shortcuts should be provided _somewhere_ for those who prefer to work from the keyboard. But it's debatable whether adding them to instructional steps helps; the extra verbal clutter can actually make the documentation less usable if not well integrated. Sometimes a separate "shortcut" guide, organized by task, works better.

If you're using a tabular format, you can add the shortcuts in a column off to the right side; that way they're instantly available, but separated sufficiently from the main instructions that they don't get in the way. Sometimes shortcuts can also fit quite elegantly in the margin in non-tabular formats.

<<I am documenting a procedure for SAP and the trainer wants me to include the function keys for almost all buttons. I'm just curious if this is a standard or not.>>

I'm not aware of any standards, but if your trainer wants the function keys, there's a good chance this is because they've observed students asking for these shortcuts. Of course, it could also be just a matter of personal preference, but even then, the trainer has firsthand experience with users of the product that most of us lack. Ask why they recommend this approach. They may have a very good reason!

--Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)


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What to use: Buttons, Function Keys, or Both?: From: Allen, Emily

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