Re: Multiple options for action?

Subject: Re: Multiple options for action?
From: "Gallagher, Susan" <sgallagher -at- STARBASECORP -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 10:38:15 -0700

brianb wonders...

> I am writing a manual where there are three different ways to perform
> an action. For example:

> To Create a New File
> --------------------

> Select New from the File menu, or click the New icon in the toolbar,
> or press Ctrl+N.

> An editor has crossed out the "or" before the second option. I want
> to keep it.

> I realize that there are rules dictating that one should only use "or"
> for the final item in a comma-separated list, but I *really* want to
> highlight that these are separate actions, not additional steps of the
> same action.

The standard rules of English usage say that the first 'or' is unnecessary,
but when you're writing instructions, it's much more important to be clear
than it is to be grammatically correct. I always use multiple 'or's when
documenting multiple alternative steps, but I break each alternative onto
it's own line...

Select File > New from the menu.
Click the New toolbar button
Press Ctrl+N

Perhaps your editor would go for this approach???

When you present your case to the editor, emphasize the usability aspect of
using the multiple 'or's. If your editor still isn't swayed, perhaps you
need to conduct some usability tests on the instructions with the editor in
attendance?? Just a thought.

Sue Gallagher
StarBase Corp, Irvine CA
sgallagher -at- starbasecorp -dot- com

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