Re: What about minimalism?

Subject: Re: What about minimalism?
From: Rick Lippincott <RJLIPPINCOTT -at- DELPHI -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 12 Oct 1994 05:40:03 -0400

Bob Handlin writes:

>If on the other hand you've written chapter after chapter over gorgeous
>text, and the one time a user goes to the book the answer isn't there, in
>their mind the book is a piece of garbage.

Very true. I faced comments similar to this just last week, with people
from other departments in our company. I've inherited a set of manuals with
a very pretty index, built by Frame's method of building an index based on
heads. That's all the index was: an alphabetical listing of the headers
found in the manual. If you know exactly what a procedure is called, it
works like a champ. It's about as minimal an index as possible.

Also, TRMOAS, (i.e., "That Reminds Me Of A Story"), at one company the spec
called for items to show up in the index in three places. While the intent
was -at least- three, it had been interpreted by a generation of lazy
writers as meaning "no more, no less, exactly three." One of these was
eaten up by an exact repeat of the header in the index, the other two were
the most popular guesses. If it was a procedure that could be named in five
or six different ways, tough luck. Hopefully, the customers were thinking
the exact same way as our writers. It was always interesting having a
debate with an editor, though. The argument always amounted to them saying
"You have too many cross-references in your index. Take some out." This
was followed by my reply "I'm just thinking of the confused user. I'm
leaving them in." And I'd think "Isn't this the opposite from the way most
index arguments go?"

Rick Lippincott
rjlippincott -at- delphi -dot- com

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