Re: Writing procedures

Subject: Re: Writing procedures
From: Keith Hood <klhra -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com, Claudine CHAUSSON <claudine -dot- chausson -at- jwaretechnologies -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 13 Aug 2009 08:25:07 -0700 (PDT)

My opinion:

You should give explicit warnings in the procedure if there is a chance that performing the procedure incorrectly could cause loss or corruption of data, or significant loss of time, or could create a situation that could be a problem later.

You should put in notes *if* those notes would make it easier for the user to understand how to avoid making a mistake.

In either case, you should always put the warning or note BEFORE the place where there is a hazardous step. It is too late to warn someone that an action is risky after that action has been performed.

I usually start a procedure with explanatory notes (if any) and place the warnings immediately before the procedure steps that are risky. The immediacy of having the warning right before the action makes it more likely the user will heed that warning.


--- On Thu, 8/13/09, Claudine CHAUSSON <claudine -dot- chausson -at- jwaretechnologies -dot- com> wrote:

> From: Claudine CHAUSSON <claudine -dot- chausson -at- jwaretechnologies -dot- com>
> Subject: Writing procedures
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Date: Thursday, August 13, 2009, 10:06 AM
> Hi everyone,
>
> This is my first posting on this list though I've been
> reading it for
> quite a while now. Beforehand, forgive my English as it's
> not my native
> language.
>
> Quite recently, I've changed job. In this new software
> company, there's
> hardly any existing doc so I'm almost writing everything
> from scratch,
> especially procedures. I haven't done that (writing from
> scratch) since
> my degree in technical writing and I need some refresh on a
> few
> fundamental things.
>
> I'm developing topics with DITA in order to single-source
> to help
> (haven't chosen a format yet) and pdf. I've described the
> interface and
> now I'm writing procedures for the tasks that can be done
> through the
> interface. I've been quite thorough in the interface
> description: all
> fields, options, and possible values (when a choice needs
> to be done)
> have been described. Warnings and notes have been written
> too to call
> out the user attention to some specific aspects.
>
> So my questions are:
> o In my procedures, should I repeat warnings and notes? Or
> is a simple
> link to the interface description enough?
> o Should I list options and describe their possible values
> all over
> again?
>
> Note that when I say "repeat", or any similar word, I'll be
> using DITA's
> conref functionality.
>
> I feel like I shouldn't need to repeat this information
> again but as a
> lone technical writer, some help will be appreciated.
>
> Thanks.
>
>
> Claudine CHAUSSON
> Technical writer
> JWARE Technologies
>
> Mail/to: claudine -dot- chausson -at- jwaretechnologies -dot- com
> http://: www.jwaretechnologies.com
>
>
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>
> 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.
> http://www.doctohelp.com/SuperPages/Webcasts/
>
> 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! http://www.helpandmanual.com/
>
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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.
http://www.doctohelp.com/SuperPages/Webcasts/

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! http://www.helpandmanual.com/

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References:
Writing procedures: From: Claudine CHAUSSON

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