Re: Long vs. Short Manuals

Subject: Re: Long vs. Short Manuals
From: Ron Rothbart <ron -dot- rothbart -at- DOCUMENTUM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 17 Jul 1996 16:32:57 +0800

Faced with similar issues, we chose to create a second manual for beginners
called Getting Started. Beginners often found the regular User's Guide too
difficult or intimidating. They find the Getting Started much better
for...well, getting started. Some users don't really need more than what
they find there. Others do need to go on to the regular User's Guide. So
far, we have not taken the basic procedures out of the User's Guide, so
there is substantial redundancy between the two manuals. This increased our
total page count but also increased customer satisfaction.

The Getting Started contains only basic procedures and very little
introductory and conceptual information. There is an appendix at the end
which lists "advanced" procedures/topics and the chapter number in the
regular User's Guide where they can be found. For the Getting Started, we
reduced the number of heading levels to 2 (chapter title and section),
increased type sizes, and included additional graphics. We also ran it
through some simple usability testing and made some changes based on what we

The regular User's Guide is about 220 pages, the Getting Started about 100
pages (but with bigger type and proportionally more graphics).

The Getting Started has been very well received by our customers. It also
won an STC award. The current plan for localization is to translate only the
Getting Started, not the User's Guide.

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