Re: Readers who don't read

Subject: Re: Readers who don't read
From: lisa_cavaliere-kaytes -at- WARREN -dot- MENTORG -dot- COM
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1993 18:11:18 EST

> > Enter the command in the format
> > shown by these examples:
> > A(nswer) 3 will allow you to answer message 3.
> > D(elete) 2,5 will delete messages 2 and 5.

> >The system automagically finishes typing what you start
> >(with "nwser" or "elete").

> I'll bet that I have had at least three upset, stuck,
> and confused users who have not only typed the full
> word (and generated a full screen of confusing error
> messages) but have also typed the "()" that I included
> to set off what they wouldn't type. BTW, the error
> messages start flashing on the screen immediately and
> don't wait for anything. If you type "an" you will get
> one error message before you can type anything else.


The way you presented the command shorthand is consistent with what I have
seen in many other types of software documentation. I probably would
have presented it in a similar fashion.

Given your user feedback, however, you might try using the "longhand" for
all the command examples in your manual and then have a section somewhere
(that is indexed) called "Command Shortcuts" (or something along this line).

Another solution might be to get rid of the parentheses and show the first
letter of the command in bold. That way if your users skip the explanations
and just type what they see in the examples, then at least they won't
get any error messages.

Tough problem. I don't know how to get users to read information about
manual conventions. I always assume that 99% of my readers never will
and just do my best to "keep them out of trouble".

Good Luck.

lisa -at- warren -dot- mentorg -dot- com

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