Re: list of *good* books

Subject: Re: list of *good* books
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 18 Jan 1996 11:22:08 -0800

Responding to Marilynne's list of good books:

>A current favorite is "Writing and Designing Online Documentation" by
>William Horton (1994) John Wiley, NY. (It's at work and I'm quoting from
>memory so that may not be the exact title.) These principles are good for
>any kind of writing.

Yup, got and read that one (well, most of it ;-) ) while I was
preparing to create my first online help file back in the summer
of '92. I hear the newer version is even better.

>I would buy anything by Bill (William Horton) or Joann Hackos.

Sage advise. Listen well.

>I also own "Mapping Hypertext" by Robert E. Horn, (to order call
>1-800-890-7003) 1989. This book is a little odd, but I think a lot of the
>information and ideas presented are useful to writing in general. This book
>is put out by the Information Mapping people, but you can buy just the book.

Never read it, but I probably will now (thanks Marilynne!). Also...
The Nuremburg (sp?) Funnel, John Carrol's work on minimalism. And
How to Write Usable User Documentation, Edmond Wiess' work on
modular user manuals. These are (probably) the three most prevalent
writing techniques we, as tech writers, use -- and even if you don't
follow the techniques to the letter, they all have excellent things
to say and are great sources from which to draw.

>I like the Chicago Manual of Style for its elegance, and the Government
>Printing Office Manual of Style for its practicality. "Books Into Type" is
>great, but you only need Chicago or BIT and I have Chicago.

I use "Chicago" exclusively -- however, I read it with a grain of
salt between my teeth and an eye on the corporate style and the
target audience. (How, you may ask, do I read in that position?
That's *my* secret! ;-) )

>I never refer to Strunk & White. They don't go into enough detail.

Never read it. Would like to some day, just for the historical
perspective, but it's not a necessity.

>Don't use your old college grammar book. I don't know who writes these, but
>they always have a few ideas that will get you in trouble. I suspect this
>is the result of "publish or perish" in the academic community.

>I am quick to buy books that help me learn about the product I am
>documenting. That means I also have books about Unix, object-oriented
>programming, and such. The more I understand the product the better I can
>discuss it with my information sources and the better I can explain it to
>the reader. This is one of my secrets of success.

This is probably where the bulk of my book money goes. Keeping up
with technology is essential.

One more I'll add is a book on design. If you're a novice, The Non-
Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams (Peachpit Press) is a good
place to start. If you're not a novice, then you probably already
have a favorite.

Hope this helps.

Sue Gallagher
Expersoft Corporation
San Diego, CA
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

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