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Every time we start another thread about "interesting" manuals,
writing styles, making the documentation "accessable" and so on I have
to wonder, does anyone on this list localize their documentation?
We translate our documentation into about a dozen languages, and many
of the guidelines for writing for a global audience are in direct
opposition to writing a folksy, Dummies-style book. We're supposed
to write short, clear sentences. We're supposed to avoid humor
because it doesn't translate. Avoid examples like sports metaphors
that might not be understood by other cultures. If I want to stay on
the good side of our localization manager, I CAN'T write a book that
looks anything like one of the Dummies books.
I don't write formal manuals because I am incapable of writing an
interesting book. I do it because that is the writing style that best
meets the needs of both my users and the company that employs me as a
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