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She's in the process of putting together a manual for extremely
naive end-users who want as little detail as possible in the book. What
she's planning on doing is creating a two-page spread layout, where each
spread contains the entire set of information about a topic (i.e., one
spread=one topic). She'd like to hear from anyone who's tried this about
what worked and what didn't. She'd also like to know if anyone has even
seen a book like this, and what book it was, so she can go look at it.
IMHO, the best book on the subject is Edmond Weiss' "How to Write Usable
User Documentation," available from ORYX press 1-800-279-ORYX. I read it
in its previous edition, when it was "How to Write a Usable User Manual"
and it compressed about five years of professional development into a few
weeks for a brand-new tech writer. The book is itself an example of the
two-page facing format.
I talked to Mr. Weiss to confirm the ordering information, and he
recommended the Que Easy series of reference books, Marian (spelling
uncertain) Graphics series of intro books, and the tutorial sections of
MicroGraphix manuals as examples of successful two-page spread formats.
I used the format when I worked for Farm Business Software Systems in
Aledo, IL. I found that I did get a little tight on space in some cases,
and moved some written information (usually definitions of screen elements)
to the facing page, which is supposed to be reserved for graphics. I also
found it impossible to do the full-manual "walk-through" he recommends;
the manuals were too big and staff time was too fragmented. However, I
did mini walk-throughs of individual section groups.
Mr. Weiss said if you want to contact him directly, he could be reached at
his 'Net address: EdWeiss -at- AOL -dot- COM (I have his permission to post his
address to the list.)