Re: Why We Need Good Software Manuals

Subject: Re: Why We Need Good Software Manuals
From: "Huber, Mike" <Mike -dot- Huber -at- SOFTWARE -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 1996 09:43:42 -0500

I was out at a training class (not about writing - I was the only
writer there) and the guy at the next desk, out of the blue, started
complaining about Microsoft manuals that have exactly the same
information (down to the examples) as the help screens.

In my experience, readers (except for the odd ones who read the
manual before jumping into the software) have already searched the
help by the time they open the manual. The reader wants
something more, or at least a different angle. Basically, when the
manual is open, the help has failed. Your coordinates are wrong -
do not fire again.

I enjoy it when people gripe to me about manuals, I think it makes
me a better writer.

From: Starr, Mike[SMTP:Mike -dot- Starr -at- software -dot- rockwell -dot- com]
Sent: Monday, January 22, 1996 10:58 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list TEC
Subject: Re: Why We Need Good Software Manuals

I firmly believe that both the online help and the manual should be as
thorough and comprehensive as possible and that they both should contain
essentially the same information. I also believe that both should contain
both task-based and reference data. IMO, anything less than that is a
disservice to the user. Some users are more comfortable with online help,
others are more comfortable with paper documents. We should be providing
documentation for the end user in a form that he or she is comfortable
using. It may cost a bit more, but I think those costs are offset by
goodwill from satisfied customers.

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