Re: Including Screen Captures

Subject: Re: Including Screen Captures
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 23 May 1996 10:24:10 -0700

At 09:59 AM 5/23/96 CDT, Bill Hartzer wrote:

>At a present tech writing position, my pubs manager insists that the
>documentation not have any screen captures. It is said (or the theory
>behind this is) that we do not need to have screen captures for several
>reasons:
[snip]
>Has anyone heard of this theory of not including screen captures in doc
>for GUI-based software products? Is the user missing anything by not
>having screen captures in the doc?
[snip]

Maybe four years ago (?), Technical Writing & Communication Journal
(The orange Baywood books) printed a study that found full screen
shots detrimental to information retention. Icons worked much better.

Just recently, one of the STC pubs printed a study that proved just
the opposite (at least that was the impression I got from first-
skim -- I've yet to read the whole thing).

A friend of mine who's been teaching computer apps -- for over 10 years
now -- uses very few full screenshots in her curriculum because she says
that students get caught up in the paper representation and forget to
look at the screen.

So, you take all these studies and impressions into account and you try
to do what's best for your audience. I generally use very few full
screenshots -- certainly not the -one-per-dialog-box- that we used to
do years ago. But I do use a lot of small visuals -- toolbar buttons,
icons, etc.

And yes, cutting back on screenshots does cut down on manual maintenance.



Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com
-- The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate.

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