Converting online to print

Subject: Converting online to print
From: Emily Skarzenski <71220 -dot- 341 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 11 Jul 1995 11:26:22 EDT

A couple days ago, Shari Scheske Goodman <scheskes -at- COGNOS -dot- COM> asked about
developing online info:

>I would like to know
> - what worked
> - what didn't work
> - what you would do differently
> - which way you went (book to online or online to book)

I usually do the online first, then the book. Since online help needs to be more
structured and concise, it forces me to organize things well, chunk information
appropriately, and write "small" from the beginning.

In converting from online to print, I:
- adjust heading levels (typographically, all headings are equal in help)
- replace "See also" hyperlinks with cross-references as appropriate
- add reference information (extended notes that aren't appropriate for the
online medium)

Another thing to consider: which form is more important in terms of your
product? At my last job, the online help carried a higher priority because of
the nature of the environment in which our software was used. Field sales reps
loaded it on laptops and used it as they walked around a store. Since they had
to carry the laptop with one hand and use it with the other, they didn't have a
free hand for carrying around the manual (even if they really *wanted* to use
it). Hence, we decided that the online help was much more important, since
that's what they'd have to use if they needed help while they were using the
program.

Emily Skarzenski
ICS Deloitte - Chadds Ford, PA
71220 -dot- 341 -at- compuserve -dot- com


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