RE: Preposition at Beginning or End?

Subject: RE: Preposition at Beginning or End?
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: "Sarah Bouchier" <Sarah -dot- Bouchier -at- exony -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2007 11:15:59 -0600

Sarah Bouchier wrote:

> Except that 'drop-down list' or 'drop-down' is a more common
> term for the thing than just 'list', so experienced users
> will be quite happy with it; while completely inexperienced
> users, faced with the word 'list', might get confused by the
> fact that they can't see one.

Well, I wouldn't draw a line in the sand over that phrase, but I
question whether it's more common (or should be, if it is).

As for the completely inexperienced users, I'd argue along the lines of
Geoff's comment about "click in." If your audience includes such utter
novices, don't you also need to tell them how to make the drop-down list
drop down? "Using the generally oval object with the attached cord
sitting on the pad to the right of your keyboard (known as a "mouse"),
move the pointer on the screen to ..."

Your non-novice users will go insane and fling your manual (if
hard-copy) across the room.

For any kind of non-trivial, non-beginner computer procedure, I think
you have to assume a certain minimum competency in your audience, and
for those that lack it, provide (or refer them to) resources for
achieving it. One of my minimum competency criteria would be that the
user, seeing a box with a down-pointing arrow at the right, would at
least be willing to explore the idea that the arrow is to be clicked.

"Any procedure that anticipates every possible misunderstanding will be
incomprehensible to all users." -- Mark Baker


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom


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RE: Preposition at Beginning or End?: From: Sarah Bouchier

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