Re: ISO Standard for Warnings?

Subject: Re: ISO Standard for Warnings?
From: Naomi Kritzer <nkritzer -at- WESTPUB -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 1997 09:21:25 -0500

My $0.02:

The manuals I write at work seldom need warnings about possible bodily
injury, but a lot of the manuals that I use outside of work contain them.
(For instance, the instruction booklet that came with my power drill.) I
realized, reading this discussion, that I don't think I've ever failed to
notice a crucial warning, but that I have no idea whether these warnings
were labeled "WARNING," "CAUTION," "DANGER," "EXTREME HAZARD," or what.
Instead, they got my attention through the use of graphics (a lightning
bolt = electrocution danger; skull & crossbones = poison), formatting
(warnings about potentially lethal dangers are usually in big letters), and
color (usually red).

For a good example of what I'm talking about, check out the bottles of
household chemicals in your local supermarket (the warnings on lye and rust
remover are particularly noticeable) or a "Buried Power Lines--Call before
you dig" sign. I guess my point would be that this is an excellent example
of when the words are less important than the pictures and the formatting,
in terms of drawing your users' attention to a potential danger.

--Naomi Kritzer
Technical Communications
West Group

(Disclaimer: My opinions are not those of my employer and I don't know
anything about ISO standards. These are merely my comments as an
occasional do-it-yourselfer who's fond of keeping power tools and other
potential hazards around the house.)

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