Re: down-sized manuals

Subject: Re: down-sized manuals
From: Kathleen Frost <kfrost -at- BTSQUARED -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 1 Aug 1997 12:06:51 -0400

Like many others who have answered this question, we down sized user
manuals at one company for space reasons, i.e., limited work space for bank
tellers, and because we wanted to make sure they did get manuals. At one
point, many supervisors were spending thousands of dollars for
documentation, then keeping the full sized manuals in the back room where
the users couldn't access them because there was no room for them on the
work space. A big waste of money.

These are considerations you might want to think about when you allow users
to customize and reprint documentation:

* Remember that a user can't easily copy down-sized pages on many copy
machines. So if they want to print new pages and add them to an existing
document, it probably needs to be letter size.

* If they are going to be adding or exchanging pages, you need to provide
bindings that make that possible.

* If users can customize, you can't make revisions easily. You may only
have the option of sending out page change notices and requiring the user
to make the appropriate changes to their version.

* You need to write some basic guidelines for the user with information
such what word processing is required, what margins must be set at, and so
on. You should probably include here that Cautions and Warnings cannot be
removed from existing documentation without violating warrantees or
whatever. (Have your corporate attorney write the disclaimer to protect
your company from anything the customers do wrong.) Remember, too, that if
they want the same "look and feel" to the original and client revisions,
you may need to ship Word templates, or whatever is appropriate for your
word processing, so they have access to the same paragraph styles, macros,

Aside: For one product, the customer was allowed to create new banking
transactions and add the instructions for each to the transaction manual.
I had to create special Word templates for documents, key shortcuts to
access macros for creating standard size tables, and even special paragraph
styles. Then I wrote a 200-page manual to explain to customers and
international office personnel how to customize the documents with the new
material. It covered what tables and heading levels to use where, how to
update the TOC, how to add index entries and update the index, etc. We
even had to cover headers and footers and how to set page numbers. The
user's customization guide turned out longer than some of the documents
they might need to change.

Good luck.

Kathy Frost
KFrost -at- BTSquared -dot- com

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