Re: worsrt documentation

Subject: Re: worsrt documentation
From: DIGEST Bruce Byfield <byfield -at- DIRECT -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 11:11:46 +0800

I recently finished a manual revision which ranks as the worst I've ever
seen. Not that the text itself was too bad, but just about everything that could be
wrong with the layout was disastrous. The page was virtually marginless, and lines
filled the entire width of the page--and were set in an 8 point font. Headers and
footers were inserted manually at the top of every page. Headings were in the same
text and size as body text. There were no anchored frames for graphics. A graphic
which indicated notes was too small to be seen. Instead of using a keystroke font,
the writer had painstakingly prepared small graphics to add to the text. Styles were
used only half the time, and their names were so vague that the purpose of half of
them was obscure. Periods had two spaces after them, quotation marks were used to
indicate imprecise word usage--if you can think of a problem, this one probably had
The layout made more sense when I found out that it had been prepared by a
secretary who was old enough to have been trained originally on a typewriter, and
who had never used a word processor for more than simple letters.
I don't blame her for the result, because she was obviously asked to do
something far beyond her training. But I did end up feeling sorry for her. She had
apparently worked over-time for two weeks, even sleeping at the office, to finish
the manual, and much of her effort could have been reduced with a little

Bruce Byfield (byfield -at- direct -dot- ca)
Burnaby, B. C., Canada (604) 421-7189
Technical Documentation, Demos & Instruction

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