RE: How do you read a User Manual

Subject: RE: How do you read a User Manual
From: "John Posada" <JPosada -at- isogon -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2004 18:21:41 -0400


What you are describing is trending toward a fractal information model
where every topic needs to contain all the information of all topics.
That gets messy fast, and eliminates any efficiency you would otherwise
gain from modular topics. I'll admit though that cross-referencing may
be unavoidable for bigger complex docs.
----------------------------------

I agree that you cannot include all information about everything
everywhere. I try to follow the approach that somewhere in the document,
everything is discussed in detail, as the organization of the manual
dictates. Then, when it's needed as background for something else, to
include enough information to get most people on the right track and to
include a cross-reference of some type to the greater detail. Example
from something I wrote just today (first draft, may be tweaked):

==================
"All Users must belong to at least one User Group if they are going to
be able to have access to [application]. By default, when Users are
added, they are given the association of "All Users".

See "Manage Security Access Rights for a User Group" starting on page
191 and "Working with Group Associations" starting on page 194 for
information you must know when working with Group Associations.
==================

John Posada
Senior Technical Writer
Isogon Corporation
http://www.isogon.com
"Realizing Your Business Goals
Through Software Asset Management"




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