Safety & Tech Manuals

Subject: Safety & Tech Manuals
From: Richard Lippincott <rlippinc -at- BEV -dot- ETN -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 30 Jan 1995 15:58:24 EST

It's me again, on this subject again.

If you recall, I got a thread going a couple of weeks ago, dealing with the
problem of placing safety warnings in tech manuals, and the impact on the
manual's readability.

The issue has not gone away for us. In fact, it's getting worse.

Just to recap, the problem is that we're being asked to insert so -many-
warnings, and repeating the warnings, that we're afraid the manual will
be ignored. This is ironic: our intent is to alert the user to these hazards,
but we fear that if the manual is ignored, then the user won't ever see the

Our legal and safety people feel that, in order to cover our assets, we've
got to provide a "no loophole" approach.

We folks in the tech writing department figure there's a compromise level,
where the manual will be used and read, and still provide adequate warnings.

In order to support our case, we're interested in specific studies done on
usability & readability. We want to be able to document our position, and
indicate how studies show the usability deteriorates.

Or, we'd like to know if, in fact, there is -no- impact, so that we don't look
too foolish in front of management.

If anybody on the list can send info on studies in this area, I would be most
thankful. You can post directly to me, or to the list if you feel it's of
general interest.

Rick Lippincott
Eaton Semiconductor
Beverly, MA
rlippinc -at- bev -dot- etn -dot- com

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