Index of Tech Writing Productivity

Subject: Index of Tech Writing Productivity
From: Erik Harris <ewh -at- PLAZA -dot- DS -dot- ADP -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 11 Oct 1994 14:11:03 -0800

Charles Bottoms poses an interesting question for us minimalist documenters:

>My company is looking for a better way to note increases in productivity other
>than pages/day or pages/year. Producing more pages is not necessarily good for
>our customers. Why show it in 4 when you can show it in 2?

It has now become more or less accepted that Less Is More, at least as far
as verbosity goes in technical writing. Charles Dickens was paid by the
page, and though he wrote rather well, his strategy for boosting his wages
is apparent.

Convincing management that one is doing a better job of documenting a
product if one writes a *leaner* manual can be a challenge, depending how
obtuse management is. It isn't self-evident how to gauge documenting
productivity that way, and in any event, one can't spend *all* one's time
cheerleading for minimalist documentation styles.

One approach might be to forget about how large a document can be produced
in a set amount of time, and consider instead how many *features and/or
functions* can be documented efficiently (and minimally) in that time. The
focus then changes from pages/day, which assumes that all products can be
documented the same way and at the same rate, to functions/document or
functions/day, which removes the size of the document from scrutiny, except
insofar as a bulky document demonstrates a badly-designed, inelegant

If I spent more time on this posting, I could probably make it shorter.

Quod erat demonstrandum
Erik Harris
ewh -at- plaza -dot- ds -dot- adp -dot- com (weekdays)
TrinityPlc -at- aol -dot- com (home)

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