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Out of Date Style Guides (Was RE: icons vs. buttons?)
Subject:Out of Date Style Guides (Was RE: icons vs. buttons?) From:"Al Geist" <al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com> To:"'Kathleen MacDowell'" <kathleen -at- writefortheuser -dot- com>, "'Tracy Taylor'" <ipsque -at- yahoo -dot- com> Date:Thu, 2 Aug 2007 08:31:17 -0400
Kathleen MacDowell wrote:
"Personally, I'd limit the use of "icon" to a non-reactive representation,
just to simplify my life--there can be such a huge number of decisions
involved in phrasing and terminology that it's mind-boggling. But as someone
else pointed out, if there's a style guide, follow it. A topic for future
consideration: dealinng with style guides that are out of date or put
together on the fly :-)"
I'm working with a company now that has the Engineering Department trying
desperately to move up to a documentation system that produces hard-copy,
PDFs and Help from the same source code. Unfortunately, the Marketing
Department does not understand the difference between content quality,
usability and branding. Whenever I mention content and usability in the same
sentence, the Marketing Manager interprets it as an attempt to redesign the
"corporate style guide." The style guide in question has only been recently
introduced into the documentation system. For the past 15 years, the style
guide was based on a set of rules created by a part-time technical writer
who made little effort himself to adhere to them.
The new corporate style guide is describes linear documentation (two-column
printed formats only) and only deals with branding. The section pertaining
to technical manuals is one page and is based on the way manuals were
developed and delivered in the 1980s-1990s. Times have changed;
unfortunately, the Marketing Manager is governed by corporate marketing
which is based in Europe. The MM does not have the knowledge to push for the
necessary changes. (I found out shortly after I accepted my first contract
with this company that others have tried to talk to this person and have
So, although I have been able to at least move them from passive to active
text and bring some consistency into nomenclature, moving them from the
Stone Age to modern delivery methods is a never ending exercise in
frustration. Will anything change? Probably not, so I will keep plugging
away while keeping an eye out for something better to pay the mortgage
Okay, enough ranting...time to do some work.
Technical Writing, Help, Marketing Collateral, Web Design and Award Winning
E-mail: mailto:al -dot- geist -at- geistassociates -dot- com
URL: http://www.geistassociates.com (Online portfolio and resume)
URL: http://www.geistimages.com (Fine art photographic prints for home or
office and beautiful note cards for all occasions.)
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