Re: How evil is copy-and-paste?

Subject: Re: How evil is copy-and-paste?
From: keithwriter -at- hotmail -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 22 May 2005 00:24:28 -0600

At my first tech-writing gig, we used a lot of copied-and-pasted snippets
of text. The reason was that the documentation was several thousand pages
long, and we had determined that the most likely usage was by people
seeking a solution to a specific problem. Those people would go to a
certain portion of the documentation to solve that problem, and ONLY to
that section. So if it was important for them to see that text snippet,
we'd include it, even if it occurred in dozens of other places, because
the reader wasn't going to see those other instances. To thesaurize or
rewrite those snippets would have been silly, so instead we went with
verbatim copying.

If your documentation is of a sort that your typical user will read
start-to-finish, of course this is not a good idea. But if your
documentation will be selectively read by the user to surgically solve
specific problems, I think any repetition caused by copying and pasting is
a non-issue.

Keith C
now an evil marketing manager, but one who hasn't forgotten the lessons
learned in tech writing


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