Re. Safety symbols

Subject: Re. Safety symbols
From: Geoff Hart <geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Thu, 28 Dec 1995 16:14:25 LCL

John Gabbert asked for advice on addressing the difference
between CE and U.S. symbols for safety warnings. John, I
don't know the difference between the two (your posting
wasn't clear on this), but I have a few comments that will
be relevent nonetheless:

1. If you're internationalizing North American
documentation, don't sweat the differences. Use the correct
symbol for the correct market; you should be able to
automate this, but if not, simply create a checklist of
which text is a warning and which is a caution, then have
an editor run through your documentation to make sure the
right symbols are in the right place. (If you're using a
high-end DTP program, you should be able to automate this
by including the graphic as part of the style definition.)

2. Don't get hung up on the difference in meaning between
"warning" and "caution". There are clear legal
implications, but forget the lawyers for a minute and think
of the users: do they know the difference or care? Should
they have to? I'd suggest that if warnings are more serious
than cautions, one solution might be to call everything a
warning... so readers would take _everything_ seriously.

3. I was briefly tempted to suggest that you create your
own symbol (e.g., a skull and crossbones to indicate a
warning and the exclamation to indicate the caution), but I
overcame the temptation. You should too. Use the accepted
symbols for your audience, even if "you have a better
idea". Standards do have their advantages, and consistent
meanings is one of them.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: If I didn't commit it in print in one of our
reports, it don't represent FERIC's opinion.

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