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Subject:Re: Using tables for content From:Haim Roman <haim -dot- roman -at- gmail -dot- com> To:"Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- ga -dot- com> Date:Thu, 24 Oct 2013 18:32:04 +0200
I love tables for presenting information & use them a lot. But it seems to
me that for procedures, they're usually not appropriate. But maybe there
are exceptions. I think Steven's correct: write examples both with &
without tables & get feedback.
-- Howard (Haim) Roman
On Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 7:23 PM, Janoff, Steven <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- ga -dot- com>wrote:
> Interesting question. Seems like an older style, more
> engineering-oriented. I'm thinking of the Edmond Weiss books and the STOP
> documents from the 60s.
> There are at least two aspects: usability, and convenience for the author.
> In Word I know tables add a constraint and it's usually a little gnarlier
> to deal with than "free" (unconstrained) paragraphs. Table cells and
> tables overall can create formatting problems. But if you can master
> tables, that's always great.
> I'd consider drafting a sample both ways and then see how it looks, get
> feedback -- both your own intuition and then thoughts from trusted
> colleagues or users.
> Anecdotally, at two jobs where I've worked, we converted such older
> table-style procedure formatting into a more "free," ordered list-based
> approach. But I believe that was about author convenience and maybe
> prepping for input into a CMS system, rather than usability.
> I'd be interested in any research studies addressing the usability side of
> tables versus open formatting for procedures (if any has been done). I
> also look at things like DITA and S1000D which use ordered lists for
> procedures. The "author convenience" part also depends on your tools.
> PS - To me this is a question of Information Design or Information
> Architecture rather than formatting. You also have to answer the question
> of whether you're leaving the borders on, which I assume you are. On vs.
> off may affect usability.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: On Behalf Of Sean
> Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2013 6:45 AM
> To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
> Subject: Using tables for content
> Hi all,
> So, whilst I search the archives, can we have a live discussion on the
> pros and cons of using tables for tech writing content. Consider a
> traditional procedure that uses step: in the left column, the action, and
> in the right column, the result. It seems, for Word, each row needs to be
> numbered manually.
> Conversely, there is standard ordered list approach without using a table.
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