Re: injecting a little whimsy into grey text

Subject: Re: injecting a little whimsy into grey text
From: "Downing, David" <DavidDowning -at- users -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l List" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 7 Oct 2008 09:33:25 -0500

From: Janice Gelb <Janice -dot- Gelb -at- Sun -dot- COM>
Subject: Re: injecting a little whimsy into grey text

Humor in technical writing is a tricky subject.

That said, I have seen small touches done well.


I have occasionally indulged in some very subtle touches of humor,
buried deeply in the text, but usually buried so deeply that no one

Since our software involves setting up accounts for people, which in
turn involves names and addresses, I have occasionally used names from
the cult classic TV series DARK SHADOWS. No, I never used Barnabas
Collins, but I did use some of the more normal sounding names like Chris

On a more personal level, sometimes I'll use addresses of places I've
gone or first names of waitresses and such that I've known, along with a
last name that's meant to describe them. For example, in the case of a
diminutive person, I would use their first name and give them the last
name "Small."

Another thing I did was write statements that were meant to have some
kind of humored subtext, and on one occasion, a reviewer actually picked
up on one of them. I discovered that it was possible to authorize
someone to access the specific function I was describing without
authorizing them for the SET of functions to which it belonged. What I
wrote was something like, "If you can't access the is function, even
though you know you were authorized for it, it's possible you were given
authorization for the function without being given authorization for the
group of functions is belongs to." The reviewer later said to me
something like, "Yeah I saw that line about how some idiot might have
authorized you for the function without authorizing you for the group of
functions," which was exactly what I was thinking.

ComponentOne Doc-To-Help gives you everything you need to author and
publish quality Help, Web, and print content. Perfect for technical
authors, developers, and policy writers. Download a FREE trial.

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.


Previous by Author: RE: Mine, mine....ALL mine!
Next by Author: Re: injecting a little whimsy into grey text
Previous by Thread: RE: injecting a little whimsy into grey text
Next by Thread: RE: injecting a little whimsy into grey text

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

Sponsored Ads