Re: Where to place the word "optional" in heading text

Subject: Re: Where to place the word "optional" in heading text
From: "Peter Neilson" <neilson -at- windstream -dot- net>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com
Date: Tue, 15 Apr 2014 18:40:02 -0400

If it's being driven by marketing then someone is hoping to motivate customers to choose the (expensive) option. If they've been doing their homework and getting good grades, then they know the appropriate secret formula or magic words.

On the other hand if they are lost, too, and seeking direction, ask them to help you design experiments to test the various wording.

You and they might want to keep to the understanding given about 50 years ago by the late Dr. Dwight Wayne Batteau: "Every experiment comes out right. The results may not be what you wanted, and you may not even understand it, but it is RIGHT."

On Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:23:28 -0400, McLauchlan, Kevin <Kevin -dot- McLauchlan -at- safenet-inc -dot- com> wrote:

Our audience is technical, so .... what Robert says in his second paragraph, except I use the syntax they expect.... "... [Optional]" (where the square brackets are a command-line convention indicating that the sub-command/flag/value is optional).

I just extend the convention sometimes to features and configuration options and the like.
But it wouldn't seem right to put an entire heading in "[...]", so I reserve it for the word "Optional" at the end, when appropriate.

Since my stuff is User and Administrator and Reference and SDK docs, the customer has already bought what they're reading about.

On Tue, Apr 15, 2014, Robert Lauriston wrote:

Generally I prefer *not* to put "optional" in headings but instead to put a more detailed explanation after the heading, such as "This command is available only if you have installed the whatsit module"
with some explanation of why you'd want to buy the module.

When I have had a reason to put it in the heading, I put it in parentheses at the end, so that it's easier to read and emphasize the primary information over the secondary fact that it's optional.

On Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 10:20 AM, Hannah Drake <hannah -at- formulatrix -dot- com> wrote:
Hi all,

Just curious where you place the word "optional" in headings. We're
listing key features for a product, and some are optional. Marketing
wants to put optional at the beginning "Optional Cool Thing" and I want to do this:
"Cool Thing (Optional)".

My reason: If someone reads optional, then they automatically pay less
attention to the feature because they may or may not purchase it. His
reason: he was told that parenthetical text should not exist because
if something is worth saying at all then it shouldn't be in
parenthesis. I have heard his argument before and generally agree, but
I disagree for this use.

What do you all think?

-Hannah
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References:
Where to place the word "optional" in heading text: From: Hannah Drake
Re: Where to place the word "optional" in heading text: From: Robert Lauriston
RE: Where to place the word "optional" in heading text: From: McLauchlan, Kevin

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