TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Let's do the math. 50 images times, say, 640x480 pixels, times 8 bits per
pixels, divided by 8 bits per byte, gives 15,360,000 bytes. You say
the graphics are all "fairly small," which is not much of a guide.
Let's say they're 1/8 screen each. That would be 1,920,000 bytes.
Text? A seven-inch line would give you maybe 16 words per line. At
ten-on-12 linespacing, a nine-inch column would give you 54 lines, for
864 words per page. 66 pages, neglecting graphics and tables, would
come to 57,024 words, which, at seven bytes per word, would come to
Embedded formatting codes? These should take up a little space every time
you do something interesting, such as changing fonts or putting in a
new heading. The effect will be negligible. Let's throw in 10,000 bytes
just to show we care.
Embedded style information? If it take 100 bytes to describe a style
such as "subhead," 100 styles would occupy 10000 bytes.
The index? 1.5 pages of index, plus an equivalent amount for embedded index
tokens, comes to 2592 bytes. The TOC? Toss in another 2592 bytes.
This adds up to 3.4 MB, leaving 2.6 MB unaccounted for. I would
certainly call this a significant discrepancy. (Of course, you're
working in Word, the Yugo of word processors. Microsoft's motto is,
"Where do you want to go today? We'll get you halfway there."
I have not done a similar analysis on FrameMaker or Interleaf,
which are more suitable as tools for professionals, but it doesn't
matter. Worrying about a few megabytes here and there is no way
to deal with storage problems. Your disk driver is probably horrendously
undersized. If it is, it's a waste of the company's money to spend
your time trying to cope with inadequate equipment. Buy a bigger drive.
Too-small drives drain productivity and raise the constant spectre of
data loss as you have to delete files that you PRAY you no longer need.
People make mistakes about this all the time, and then discover that
their backup strategy didn't work, either.
The smallest size you should consider is 2 GB. I just bought a 2 GB
drive for $379. The time spent in purchasing it, installing it, and
transferring your files to it will probably come to about four hours
of time on the part of all employees (drive upgrades always take too
long unless they are identical to one that the installer has done
recently). For a 2 GB drive, this labor will cost less than the
drive itself; for a 1 GB drive, it will probably be more. My rule
of thumb is that you should be paying more money for the goods than
for their installation. This argument goes over really well with
Oh, and get a backup device that can back up the whole system in one
pass, such as a 5 GB tape drive -- unless there is an existing backup
system that actually works and is used frequently. Backing up a 2 GB
disk for seven hours onto a stack of 711 floppy disks is not my idea
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139