Re: "Choose your own" install guide

Subject: Re: "Choose your own" install guide
From: Janice Gelb <Janice -dot- Gelb -at- Sun -dot- COM>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2007 09:14:44 +1100

Kevin McGowan wrote:
> Essentially, if you drew it all out in a flow chart, the flow chart would go
> on for pages and make it seem ridiculously complicated. Instead, I'm
> thinking of a more user-friendly approach...and am wondering if anyone has
> done this, or might have an opinion on it.
> Basically, it would go like this:
> You want to install PRODUCT on Windows - go to page 10
> You want to install PRODUCT on Linux - go to page 13
> In the Windows section:
> You want to enable SAS support, go to page 20.
> You want to skip SAS support, go to page 21.
> Is this madness? Will a reader be annoyed reading a 100-page document set up
> like this?

Installation guides are always a nightmare but
I don't recommend making the user skip around
as you've indicated unless the interior procedures
are lengthy.

For the first situation, I would definitely have
two separate procedures and cross-reference them.

However, for the second situation, if the SAS support
instructions were four steps or fewer, I would include
an optional step.

8. (Optional) Enable SAS Support.

a. Kill a black goat.
b. Mutter the incantation appropriate for your system.
c. Throw the goat entrails in the air.
d. Log on to your system.

For instances where a step could go in two different
directions depending on the setup, I would use branching:

8. Create your sandwich.

* To create a peanut-butter sandwich:

a. Open jar.
b. Spread peanut butter evenly on bread surface.
c. (Optional) Add jam.
d. Bring two slices of bread together, filling side in.

* To create a salami sandwich.

a. Slice salami in slices of even thickness.
b. Place salami slices evenly on slice of bread.
c. (Optional) Add mustard or mayonnaise.
d. Bring two slices of bread together, filling side in.

-- Janice

Janice Gelb | The only connection Sun has with
janice -dot- gelb -at- sun -dot- com | this message is the return address

Create HTML or Microsoft Word content and convert to Help file formats or
printed documentation. Features include support for Windows Vista & 2007
Microsoft Office, team authoring, plus more.

True single source, conditional content, PDF export, modular help.
Help & Manual is the most powerful authoring tool for technical
documentation. Boost your productivity!

You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

To unsubscribe send a blank email to
techwr-l-unsubscribe -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
or visit

To subscribe, send a blank email to techwr-l-join -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com

Send administrative questions to admin -at- techwr-l -dot- com -dot- Visit for more resources and info.

"Choose your own" install guide: From: Kevin McGowan

Previous by Author: Re: OT - Errors on cover letters
Next by Author: Re: User's Guide or User Guide (was RE: Technical Writer or Documentation Writer?)
Previous by Thread: RE: "Choose your own" install guide
Next by Thread: Occupational titles AKA poking the bear with a stick

What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads