Re: Information Mapping

Subject: Re: Information Mapping
From: Beryl Doane <BDoane -at- ENGPO -dot- MSMAILGW -dot- INTERMEC -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1996 09:25:00 PDT

Bill Hartzer wrote:
--<snip>
>Welcome to the world of Technical Writing, Tim! We're _NOT_ here
>to entertain the reader. As Technical Writers, we're here to get
>the information a reader needs to them in the shortest amount of
>time while making it easy for them to understand. If our readers
>need entertainment, they should read a John Grisham novel, _NOT_ a
>User's Guide. Technical Writing is _NOT_ entertainment writing. It
>never has been and never should be. If Technical Writing was entertaining
>reading, 99 percent of Americans would know how to program their VCRs!

Sorry, Bill, I disagree. Technical Writing is not meant to entertain
in the same sense as a novel or play. It does NOT follow that
TW can NEVER entertain, or that we must write dry, boring text.

Basic audience analysis should determine the tone of all writing.
Entertainment is simply one tool we can use to keep our audience
involved in what they read.

Getting the information to a reader is not the same as the reader
learning or retaining that information. If "entertainment" helps to
engage the reader, then it is useful for that given audience. This
does not mean that all TW should be "cute" or "humorous." Just
that you should not make blanket statements, and that Technical
Communicators need to maintain and wisely use a full arsenal of
writing styles to meet the needs of our audiences and subjects.


>If Technical Writing was entertaining reading, 99 percent of
>Americans would know how to program their VCRs!
I think you just said it!! :) Actually, if the VCRs had a better
user interface, there would be no need to document how
to program them.

(And check your verb tense. "If Technical Writing were...")

Beryl Doane
Senior Technical Writer
Intermec Corporation
bdoane -at- intermec -dot- com

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