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

Subject: Re: Info Mapping : the "7 +/- 2" rule
From: Leslie McKendry-Smith <McKendrySmith -at- MBNET -dot- MB -dot- CA>
Date: Fri, 6 Sep 1996 22:24:20 -0500

Eric J. Ray wrote:
>I'm usually pretty good at following directions
>(after it didn't work the first time and I resorted
>to reading the manual), but can't imagine that it'd
>make a difference to me if there were 3 or 33 steps.
>I'd remember them one at a time anyway.

>Are there ANY studies that apply this theory to
>instructional text? I'd even be interested in
>anecdotal evidence -- how many of the people on TECHWR-L
>read all steps, remember them, then apply them?
>How many go one step at a time?

I agree that most people read and perform one instruction at a time but, to
say that there is no difference between 3 or 33 steps is an over
simplification. Organizing a long procedure into chunks of 7 +/-2 can help
readers track their progress in performing the task and give them a sense of
accomplishment as they complete portions of a long, complicated process.

Leslie McKendry-Smith mckendry -at- mbnet -dot- mb -dot- ca
Documents OnLine Technical Writing Services

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