Re: Is there a study on reading warnings, notes?

Subject: Re: Is there a study on reading warnings, notes?
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 2 Nov 2008 18:40:09 +1100

I endorse absolutely the advice that says warnings that are meant to protect
one from injury or damage to property (including data) should be embedded in
the instructions -- and by all means they should come BEFORE the
instruction, not after. And it doesn't hurt to make them stand-alone
warnings AS WELL. That way, somebody casually flipping though the document
may see these cautions -- which of course you have made highly visible and
recognizable by distinguishing them from the surrounding material -- and
take note of them. They may or not may not sink in.

Anything that is associated with a risk to life, limb or property should be
in the interface itself (or on the machinery) -- not just buried in a
manual. Your lawyers can tell you that.

As for what are often called "notes" -- well, it is to laugh. I often see in
manuals a "conventions" page in which one finds a comment along the lines
of "Notes contain important information."

Yeah? So what, I must ask, is all this other crap you're asking me to read?
UNIMPORTANT bloody information? Get real.

Don't create obstacles and hurdles for your readers. Put the information
where it is needed. If it isn't "important", leave it out.

Mike West
Melbourne, Australia


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