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Are you that surprised there are "dummies and idiots" books in a
marketplace? Look at TV and magazine ads. Keep the topic/message simple.
Simple sells. Simple is easily understood.
I am not surprised, nor do I scorn the simple. Remember, I write user manuals.
I try to keep in mind that there is a fine line between simple and condescending. I don't cross it and I don't like manuals that cross it. Yes, I know the "for Dummies" part is meant to be funny. In fact, it *is* funny, and original, and it is not surprising that it makes money.
That said, I have to add that I do find the buddy-buddy Micro$oft style to be condescending and distracting. I suspect it is fun to write phrases like "I've prattled on about ..." or "It isn't a good idea to ..." without worrying that some stiff-shirted editor will take away your poetic license. I won't go so far as to say that type of writing is bad. (It is much better than the old-fashioned insomnia cure type of writing.) However, I do think it is overly informal and detracts from what you are saying in the same way any superfluous or inexact phrases detract from making your point.
Rebecca M. Phillips
Qronus Interactive Ltd.
Automated System Testing http://www.qronus-int.com
rebecca -at- qronus -dot- co -dot- il