Re: Flame me, I'm Italian

Subject: Re: Flame me, I'm Italian
From: ATAttT Documentation Department <att -at- CYBERSPACE -dot- ORG>
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 1994 16:35:00 EDT

Glen, you write:
I write lots of manuals for techno-dweebs. Consequently much of what I write
involves "instructions" such as:

- A requires module B in C mode.
- D provides the input for E.
- etc.

Would statements such as the above be better written as actual instructions?
That is "To make A work, start module B in C mode" or "Take the results of D
and input them to E."

For user's manuals, I'm very careful to write _instructions_: do A, do B,
then do C, and I try to avoid constructions such as the above. Is the same
style as necessary for "high-end" users?

My rule of thumb is: Very few people are offended by reading stuff
that's "too easy" (At least past the second grade.) They're reading
to get what they need to do the job at hand. The easier your document
is to use and to parse, the faster they can put it down and get on with
the work at hand. Net gain.

Therefore, when in doubt, I make it easier where that's possible. That
would include simpler grammar, shorter sentences, and more explicit
step-by-step instructions.

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