RE: Using tables for content

Subject: RE: Using tables for content
From: <Brian -dot- Henderson -at- mitchell1 -dot- com>
To: <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 24 Oct 2013 18:18:14 +0000

Mercedes presents all of the data in their service & repair database in tables. For many reasons, including that one, I am not very fond of dealing with Mercedes data.

Here's a screenshot of one of their pages:
http://i.imgur.com/9rUDs26.png

-Brian H.

-----Original Message----- From: Haim Roman

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.



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.
>
> Steve
>
> 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.
>
> Thoughts?
>
> Sean
>
>
>
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
New! Doc-to-Help 2013 features the industry's first HTML5 editor for authoring.

Learn more: http://bit.ly/ZeOZeQ

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You are currently subscribed to TECHWR-L as archive -at- web -dot- techwr-l -dot- com -dot-

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Looking for articles on Technical Communications? Head over to our online magazine at http://techwhirl.com

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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

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