Re: References and tips on writing hardware manuals

Subject: Re: References and tips on writing hardware manuals
From: Kris Olberg <KJOlberg -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 15:12:04 -0400

In a message dated 95-10-03 16:23:15 EDT, vargas -at- SEDSYSTEMS -dot- CA (Cecilia
Vargas) writes:

>I'd appreciate book or article titles on writing hardware
>documentation. Or if you have some comments on the topic,
>I'd appreciate those too.

If you haven't done much hardware writing, be prepared for the following:

1. "Last-minute changes happen." This means the same as the beloved phrase,
"Sh*t happens." As hard as the engineers work to get the drawings right, I
can guarantee that the technicians that build the equipment will find that
modifications are necessary.

2. Spend as much time with the technicians/engineers as you can as they
build the equipment. Their insight as they run into problems and work with
the equipment is absolutely invaluable.

3. Wear clothing and shoes that are suitable for the shop environment. This
means jeans and tennis shoes, not heels and pantyhose. You might find
yourself sitting on the floor or climbing ladders. In addition, you might be
required to wear safety goggles or glasses.

4. Photos, photos, photos. Take photos of EVERYTHING at EVERY STAGE of
assembly and breakdown for shipping. Use the best photog equipment you can
find. At a minimum, you should use at least a 35mm SLR with an appropriate
speed of film to accommodate several lighting conditions. The point here is
to obtain photos that are "scannable" or at least traceable.

5. When you right the doc, keep these in mind:

* Keep it short and simple. Operators and maintenance techs do not like
to read much of anything.
* Pictures, pictures, pictures.
* To satisfy the legal eagles, use Dangers/Warnings/Cautions where
appropriate. If you don't know how to use these tools of hardware writing,
learn now. Your company's financial well-being may rest on these.

Hope this helps.


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