RE: Using tables for content

Subject: RE: Using tables for content
From: "Janoff, Steven" <Steven -dot- Janoff -at- ga -dot- com>
To: "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Paul Hanson <twer_lists_all -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 24 Oct 2013 09:59:57 -0700

The CSS analogy doesn't apply here. That has to do with coding practice. Using Word styles has nothing to do with coding in HTML & CSS.

This is about (1) author convenience, and (2) usability (or Information Design, or whatever you want to call it).

>From an author convenience standpoint, if you can rock tables, that's a great skill.

>From a usability standpoint, if you're good at organizing information, you can rock a table-style presentation. As to who needs feedback on using tables for procedures, I'd say anybody considering that as a presentation mode vs. the usual ordered list-style presentation.

The old documents from the 60s and 70s that used this style were very effective, as I recall. There's no reason you can't make it work.

Steve


-----Original Message-----
From: On Behalf Of Paul Hanson
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2013 9:48 AM
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Subject: RE: Using tables for content

What is your delivery format? PDF? HTML? Something else?

Speaking about Word docs, I worked for a company that had numbered procedures within a three column table. The first column was an empty square (the thought being that the user could print the procedure and check the box when they were done), the second column was a numbered step, and the third the actual content.

I remember this time in my career with fondness because as I began the massive task of converting that Word content to HTML (during the WinHelp to HTML conversion), I was also learning HTML and about this amazing technique for controlling format called "Cascading Style Sheets." With the three column format, I learned that you couldn't do a continuous OL within a table without adding start="N" <ol start="2"> so, essentially, it was manually numbering. I also learned that code like this:

<p>1. Complete the ....</p>
<p>2. Complete the ....</p>

Should be rewritten to:

<ol>
<li>Complete the</li>
<li>Complete the </li>
</ol>

And if I did that, adding a step prior to step 1 in a long procedure would not require manual renumbering. All of this was also at the time when the tables in the Word docs were being used to control formatting. The big buzz about *not* using tables to control formatting was deafening at the time.
Around this time, I talked to Dave Gash @ WinWriters in 2004 in Boston about using tables in documentation and the takeaway from that discussion was that if your content is tabular, then yes, use a table. If it's not, don't use one.

All that to say I do not have procedures in tables in any content I work with on a regular basis.

Paul Hanson
Senior Technical Writer
My blog: http://prhmusic.blogspot.com
My band: Lou's Classic Ride: https://www.facebook.com/LousClassicRide
My frequently ignored Twitter account: @phrmusic - follow me!



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Follow-Ups:

References:
Using tables for content: From: Sean
RE: Using tables for content: From: Janoff, Steven
Re: Using tables for content: From: Haim Roman
RE: Using tables for content: From: Paul Hanson

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