Re: Info Mapping : the "7 +/- 2" rule

Subject: Re: Info Mapping : the "7 +/- 2" rule
From: diane haugen <dhaugen -at- BARNESVILLE -dot- POLARISTEL -dot- NET>
Date: Thu, 5 Sep 1996 08:56:58 -0500

As far as remembering steps -- realistically, how critical
is it? I cannot remember (sorry) the last time that I
read instructions, remembered them, then applied them.
Computer-stuff or anything with some assembly
required, I generally read one step, do it, read another
do that, and so forth. Either I fall into that first
standard deviation that Frederic mentioned, or I don't
read instructions "normally."

Actually, Eric, I think you do read instructions normally.

When I wrote a manual on how to install a home satellite dish, I assumed
that there would be those who would need detailed explanations as well as
those who would basically know what to do, but just needed a brief list
indicating which step to perform first.

The company I worked for agreed. We wrote the manual in two-column format,
using one column for the persons who needed to know why they were doing
what they were doing as well as how to do it. In the outside column we
wrote what we called "quick steps," that is, an ordered list of the tasks
to be done. These quick steps were collected together into a cheat sheet
at the end of the manual.

The manual was designed to go with an installation video, and each of the
installation step sections had an identifying icon which was matched to the

>Are there ANY studies that apply this theory to
>instructional text?

I would have liked to do some user testing on this manual, but like much
contract work, had no control of what happened to the manual once it left
my hands.

Christina Haas studies how composing on computers as opposed to pen and
paper changes the writing process. She might at least be able to give you
a lead to the kinds of studies you're looking for.

Diane Haugen dhaugen -at- barnesville -dot- polaristel -dot- net

Whiskey Creek Document Design Barnesville, MN

Editor, Document Design

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