Visuals in work instructions: how many is too much?

Subject: Visuals in work instructions: how many is too much?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, "Ahles, Wesley Christopher" <wesley -dot- ahles -at- mnsu -dot- edu>
Date: Mon, 04 Jun 2007 17:01:31 -0400

Wesley Christopher Ahles wondered: <<A question for anyone who has
made work instructions, or who may just have an opinion.>>

Sorry, you won't find many opinions here. <gdr>

<<I'm writing some assembly work instruction. The rough draft is just
over a page, with 11 steps. Right now, I have 6 visuals in mind. Is
this too many, or is there no real rule for this sort of thing?>>

There's an inviolable rule for anything, dontcha know! <g> In this
case, the only good rule is that there's no good rule -- or at least
no rule that specifies the "correct" number. The appropriate number
of visuals is determined using a simple rule of thumb: if you can't
describe something clearly and precisely using words, or if you're
describing something whose primary characteristics are visual (rather
than textual), use an image. If text communicates the same concept
more clearly and precisely (and concisely), use text.

Note that if you're planning on internationalizing your instructions,
there's some merit to emphasizing images over text: there is less
translation to do and less risk of miscommunication if the images
work clearly. Hewlett-Packard does some nice work in this area with
their installation and setup instructions.

-- Geoff Hart
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
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Visuals in work instructions: how many is too much?: From: Ahles, Wesley Christopher

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