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Dr. Jonathan Price was our professor for an Instructional Writing
course. Our project was to write a manual complete with a tutorial and
quick references. Two fellow classmates and I wrote "Word 6.0: A Guide
for Technical Communication Students at New Mexico Tech". When we finished
writing each section, we sat down and went through our tutorial step by
step, just like a beginning user. Since we were trying to simulate a
beginner, we did not assume anything while going through the tutorial.
After everything was said and done, we found several inconsistencies and
some instructions that were too detailed for the beginners. We then
realized that we took several steps for granted and made some instructions
to difficult to understand.
Dr. Price grilled us about "selecting" an item from the toolbar and
"choosing" from the drop-down list. We thought he was crazy when he told
us to distinguish between "selecting" something from the toolbar and
"choosing" an item from the drop-down list because the user would be
confused. He was right! When we went through it, we noticed that we
hadn't been consistent. I guess we should had paid attention to him since he's
written several major works, including one for Apple.