RE: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options

Subject: RE: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options
From: "Combs, Richard" <richard -dot- combs -at- Polycom -dot- com>
To: Mark Baker <mbaker -at- analecta -dot- com>, 'Donna McManus' <donna -dot- mcmanus -at- gmail -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 8 Sep 2011 13:50:38 -0700

Mark Baker wrote:

> My opinion is that you should never present more than one equivalent
> method
> of accomplishing something in a procedure. If someone is reading a
> step-by-step procedure it is because they want to get a specific task
> done.
> One method will suffice for this purpose; offering an alternative is
> just a
> distraction.
>
> A person who is sufficiently unfamiliar with the product to require
> instruction of this kind does not need the extra chore of choosing
> between
> two alternative, especially when there is no guidance provided on why
> to
> choose one option over the other. Make their life simpler: choose for
> them.
> If a person uses the application often, they will learn that there are
> alternate ways of doing things. If they don't use it often, they don't
> care
> that there are alternate ways of doing things.
>
> A good topic should do one thing. Putting alternative methods into a
> procedure is an attempt to teach the interface to a user who is just
> trying
> to get a job done. For users who want to learn the interface, write a
> topic
> on how the interface works.
>
> But if you absolutely must state the alternatives, the first form is
> both
> clearer and more conventional.

What he said. In large neon letters. With full orchestral accompaniment.


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Polycom, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT polycomDOTcom
303-223-5111
------
rgcombs AT gmailDOTcom
303-903-6372
------






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References:
Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options: From: Donna McManus
RE: Using the conjunction OR in mutually exclusive options: From: Mark Baker

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