Re: Page Count Estimates

Subject: Re: Page Count Estimates
From: Sue Ellen Adkins <sea -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 23 Dec 1995 04:38:52 -0800

Ron Miller quoted TLARSEN -at- NOVELL -dot- COM (Tamara Larsen) and added his comments:

> >JoAnn Hackos, in "Managing Your Documentation Projects" (p 170) gives
> >the following estimates:
> >
> >User guide 5 hours per page
> >Software Applications Reference Manual 4 hours per page
> >Hardware Maintenance and Troubleshooting Man. 8 hours per page

> If I took 5 hours to write a page of documentation, my jobs would
> never get done. That translates into 12.5 weeks of development
> working 40 hours per week. In my experience that should be cut in
> half. Nobody I've ever worked for has given me this kind of lead time--
> not that I wouldn't love to have it.
> It just has never happened.

One variable that JoAnn Hackos doesn't mention is the size of the page. Most
government proposals require 8.5 x 11" pages with 1" margins, leaving a 6.5 x
9" text block or 58.5 square inches of text. The text block of the Hackos
book is 5.25 x 7.5" or 39.4 square inches of text. A software manual I
checked has a text block of 4 x 5.25" or 21 square inches of text. So, your
estimate may be equivalent to the 5 hours per page.

On small pages, screen shots can occupy 30-50% of a page. If I don't collect
them, I don't include them in my estimate of the number of pages I have to
write. By taking the time to make a detailed estimate of the task and
documenting any assumptions I make, I establish a base I can use to identify
where my estimate was wrong (and hopefully, why). Did it take me longer
because the number of pages grew by 30%? Was there a major change in the
software spec late in the development cycle?

My experience working on proposals has taught me that the number of hours
required to write a proposal will expand to fill the number of hours available
for writing. It's difficult for me to stop trying to make it just a little bit

Sue Ellen Adkins
sea -at- netcom -dot- com

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