Re: tools-how specific in a hardware manual

Subject: Re: tools-how specific in a hardware manual
From: "Dan S. Azlin" <dazlin -at- SHORE -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 25 Feb 1995 03:18:43 -0500

On Fri, 24 Feb 1995, Kelly Kremin painfully wrote:

> Finishing a hardware manual. My mgr want me to include specific tools
> in procedures.

> Use an xx hex wrench to remove the two xx screws that connect the
> bracket to the Z column.

> The mechanical engineers is against this. He can't guarantee what
> screw (or bolt or whatever) might be used in a given situation & the
> potential for the manual to include incorrect info is high. Also, he
> says, service people will have complete sets of tools. Plus they are
> tool & part literate.

> Remove the two screws that connect the bracket to the Z column.

> Our dept does not have a style guide (I've tried for one repeatedly).
> Other hardware info is inconsistent, sometimes there's specific info.
> Or not.

> So, opinions? Experiences? Recommendations?

The mechanical engineers are basically correct. After writing many, many
_industrial_ hardware manuals, I have learned that the best course of action
is to assume some basic tool knowledge on the part of the reader and use
only generic references to required tools, if any.

The exception to this rule is when the tool to be used is not intuitive
or has some special requirement, or requires some special consideration
in its use (e.g. using a torque wrench instead of some other kind of

To do other than this runs the risk of alienating the reader by
excessively insulting his intelligence and giving him cause to ignore
more important information that you are trying to convey.


Dan Azlin ** Word Engineers, Technical Writing & Publishing **
dazlin -at- shore -dot- net ph/fax 508-921-8908

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