re: Reference Data and Online Help

Subject: re: Reference Data and Online Help
From: Sean Hower <hokumhome -at- freehomepage -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 2004 07:24:15 -0700 (PDT)

Steven Oppenheimer wrote:
Does anyone know of some study, or textbook, or something that passes for a source of authority in the field of technical documentation, which states that online help should only have procedural material, but not reference material?


In fact, Standards for Online Communication by JoAnn T. Hackos and Dawn M. Stevens (isbn 0471156957) breaks information into four categories:


and provides tips on including each (as well as mixing each) in online help.

I'd be interested in knowing where your manager had heard his take on this, why he was so obstinate in the face of what was a really obvious decision to everyone else, and why he decided to overlook user needs in favor of sticking to a dogma that is ultimately detrimental to your users. <sigh /> It makes me think that there was something else going on, some unseen turf war maybe, that was pushing your manager to take this kind of stance.

Sean Hower - tech writer

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