Re: Binders vs. Books

Subject: Re: Binders vs. Books
From: Becca Barrett <BBarrett -at- CFIPRO -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 4 Mar 1997 16:04:59 PST

On 3/4 Gina asked

Is it possible to update sections of an existing manual that is numbered in
one flow, or will it have to be reformatted to chapter numbering? (i.e.
2-34, 6-21). I am having trouble seeing how it can be done without breaking
pagination, indexes etc., but I will bow to your knowledge.

We use binders for all of our (Portland) documentation, because we sell
banking industry software that complies with all federal, state and local
regulations for lending. That makes Congress, Federal Regulators, State
legistratures, etc. all changing stuff all the time. We have to be able to
change the documentation at the same rate of speed.

We number each chapter separately as 2-1, 3-1, etc. You don't want to use a
single flow, since you may be changing the number of pages in a chapter. I
have one manual with a chapter divided into four sections, but numbered
sequencily. It's a maintenance nightmare.

>Has anyone had any experience sending out change pages? Yes

>Do users actually insert them?

No, they just wait six months and ask for a new manual. Seriously, it's
like anything else, the users who value up to date information will insert
their pages, the rest will stuff them in the front of the manual or lose
them. The average will probably be about the same as the ones who are
currently "losing" the update booklets.

>Are change bars or some such necessary?

We don't use them, however we do change the dates and version numbers at the
bottom of the page. We create these as variables in Framemaker and use new
master pages.

>I'm having nightmare about keeping track of all these bloody versions -
>Harder to maintain change in a binder, or update booklets?

I just make a new file that contains the new pages for each chapter. By
using new master pages for each release, we can keep track of what pages
changed.

Finally, getting into emotions, how do people feel about binders vs. bound
books? I'd like to get a tally.

I don't know how I feel about using binders vs. perfect bound. I have always
had to use binders due to ever changing regulations. The rest of the
company's documentation is divided between bound and 3 ring binders.

FYI the manual will be about 400 pages, in FrameMaker. (Not including the
'new' modules, which haven't even been written - don't ask.) Most of the
text will also be in Windows Help, which will be updated as necessary. PDF
is not an option - I'm already 'way' over my budget.

What size are the pages? 400 pages is going to require at least a 1.5 inch
binder at least, without room for additional pages. 1 inch is as large as
we like to go for ease of handling, etc. Also, don't forget that you will
need some sort of cover art and tabs for binders.

Becca Barrett
Senior Tech Writer
CFI ProServices, Inc.
bbarrett -at- cfipro -dot- com

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