Re: Field-specific Help

Subject: Re: Field-specific Help
From: Ned Bedinger <doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com>
To: l m <lm5582002 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 19 Aug 2007 13:08:49 -0700

l m wrote:
> Do I really have to write, "In the Name field, enter your name."???
> I will also be providing the system requirements, such as # of
> characters, whether symbols are allowed, etc. but for the field
> definitions this just seems a little silly. Anyone out there succeed
> in making the "Name" (or "Address" or "Phone Number") field seem
> much more interesting in their documentation, or do you all just
> leave it to stand on its own?

You've gotten good advice about a range of considerations, and in
contrast I think mine will sound like I think tech writers needs to be
tyrannized by robot masters chanting "Must conform to universal
practices." But here it is: I think that all fields should be
documented with the same degree of detail. I say this because, if you'll
pardon my assumption, the data is presumably going to a database, and
you don't want to be the one who missed documenting any of the data
rules that apply to the user's data entry. Your software people may
have missed a few, and your database people might have done so too, but
you don't wanna do that.

You mentioned some existing field restrictions and requirements, so
you've probably done this already, but if not, you could track down the
database people and review each field thoroughly for restrictions and
special requirements. Take along some examples (Char and Andrew provided
some good ones!) of exceptions to the seemingly obvious rules for names
and addresses, and let your data people know you're pitching in with
critical thinking.

Ned Bedinger
doc -at- edwordsmith -dot- com

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Field-specific Help: From: l m

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