Re: Manuals Written in Non-American Eng

Subject: Re: Manuals Written in Non-American Eng
From: "Huber, Mike" <Mike -dot- Huber -at- SOFTWARE -dot- ROCKWELL -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 21 Aug 1996 12:19:27 -0400

I have (according to tests) incredibly good reading comprehension, and a
college education, and read quite a bit for pleasure.
In a manual, *please* condescend me with short, simple sentences and
short simple words. Somebody else said "'taint litrechure."
Rightly so. Literature is easier to write.

When I read for fun or enlightenment, I have the patience for complexity,
and even ambiguity. When I read a manual, it's for information. I need it
now, I need it clear, I need it exact. And I have something else on my
mind. If I'm reading a manual, it's for a tool that I'm trying to use.
What's on my mind isn't the manual, or even the thing the manual
describes. What's on my mind is some task. And I'm distracted from that
task by a tool, and distracted from that tool by a manual. I don't have a
lot of mental energy left over to play with fancy words and baroque
sentence structures.

From: Dan Martillotti[SMTP:danm -at- DEV -dot- TIVOLI -dot- COM]
Sent: Wednesday, August 21, 1996 10:50 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list TEC
Subject: Re: Manuals Written in Non-American Eng

Sabahat wrote:

> "I am a little miffed. Apparently Americans, when they start thinking
> about abroad, only three groups come to their minds -- Japanese,
> European and some times British. I resent people saying without
> qualification that you should write short sentences with simple words.

> find that condescending. I -- and most other professional Third
> -- would find something written that way very, very patronizing.

Why do you find short sentences with simple words in technical
condescending? The idea is that the writer takes a complex concept or
and writes so that the average reader can understand it. In the world of
documentation for computer software, the average reader is no longer just
college educated individual. And as long as the American public school
continues to rate so low, we need to write in short sentences with simple

Simple sentences and short words. Get used to them.

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