RE: ...left as an exercise for the reader--REPORT (long)

Subject: RE: ...left as an exercise for the reader--REPORT (long)
From: "Anameier, Christine A - Eagan, MN - Contractor" <christine -dot- a -dot- anameier -at- usps -dot- gov>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2006 10:48:21 -0600

Regarding response 1 (paste the screenshot into an email), Dick wrote:
"The poster assumes that because I am using Thunderbird I can paste the
image into an email. Of course this is untrue for anyone (like me) who
prefers to send plain text rather than HTML (or RTF, for that matter)
email. Therefore trying to use the simplified instructions would be
frustrating for many people."

I nearly suggested "paste it into an email message" myself. The vast
majority of users are using Outlook or Outlook Express, and most of them
wouldn't know how to change the default format to plain text. For them,
pasting the image into an email is quicker and simpler than creating an
image file.

IMO, if they're technically sophisticated enough to (1) understand the
difference between plain text and HTML/RTF, and (2) figure out how and
why to configure their email client to send plain text, then they can
probably figure out how to create and send an image file, and we
probably don't need to worry about them.

This all raises the question of whether we should have *everyone* follow
a longer procedure, or give them a simpler procedure at the risk of
having a user or two fall through the cracks.

If I were writing a static reference doc like a manual or a support web
page, I think I'd provide both procedures, earmarking the longer one as
an alternative for users who use plain-text email. However, in Dick's
scenario, we're already in touch with the user by email, so we can
tailor our approach: if we've received plain-text email from the person,
send them the attach-a-Word-file instructions; if we've received RTF or
HTML from them, send them the paste-in-the-image instructions.

If we tell someone to email a screenshot as an attached file, I agree
with Dick that the "paste it into Word" method is the most familiar to
most people. When SMEs send me screenshots, they invariably send me Word
files. (On the rare occasions that I need to use their actual
screenshots in a doc, I walk over and show them how to save a nice
lossless 24-bit BMP in Paint, but normally I go into the app myself and
grab my own screenshots. As GIFs, not JPGs. But that's another

Thanks, Dick, for a thought-provoking exercise.


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