Friday files: an exercise in information design

Subject: Friday files: an exercise in information design
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L Writing <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 26 Jun 2009 08:05:39 -0400

Just received this old joke (presumably from Reader's Digest based on
the style): <<A parts manager for a small electronics shop, had
occasion to order part No. 669 from the factory. But when he received
it he noticed that someone had sent part No. 699 instead. Furious at
the factory's incompetence, he promptly sent the part back along with
a letter giving them a piece of his mind. Less than a week later, he
received the same part back with a letter containing just four words:

Hmmm... after chuckling, the information designer in me noted that the
problem could be solved just by appending "Part no." before the
number. Made me wonder how many other problems we cause for our
audiences could be solved equally simply.

Geoff Hart (
ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca / geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com
Effective Onscreen Editing:


Free Software Documentation Project Web Cast: Covers developing Table of
Contents, Context IDs, and Index, as well as Doc-To-Help
2009 tips, tricks, and best practices.

Help & Manual 5: The complete help authoring tool for individual
authors and teams. Professional power, intuitive interface. Write
once, publish to 8 formats. Multi-user authoring and version control!

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