Re: Choosing a menu option

Subject: Re: Choosing a menu option
From: David <dmgirard -at- CORNETLTD -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 12:37:23 -0005

Buck wrote:

> This thread demonstrates a perfect case for standardization in
> documentation. The many opinions and statements such as, "I do this,
> because..." make those of us who are dedicated to standardization quiver
> (shiver? tremble? shrug?).

I don't think it makes a big difference as long as there is sound
reasoning for a style, the style is consistent across the documents
you produce, and you're doing it all for the reader.

I think that standardization can go a bit too far. If you
micro-manage style, like anything else, you end up with a lot of
busywork that IMHO is often not worth the paper it's printed on. A
friend works at a shop where the lead editior does this. Each week
he comes out with a list of pronouncements like "From now on we will
write 'click the OK button' instead of 'click OK.'" What a waste of
ink. On the other hand, I've worked on projects where the writers
took the time to use the proper terminology for things like dialogs,
menus, toolbars, and the trainers didn't. So the user ended up being
pretty confused. Somewhere in between those two extremes is where
standardization should be.

> Until some other more definitive [than MSMS] manual of style comes
> along, all you artistes should let go of your creativity and write for
> the user (not for your own self-gratification).
> Put all that creativity into your novel, article, or shot story. That's
> where it belongs.

Well Buck I understand what you're saying I just wish you hadn't
lumped me with the artistes. We write for clarity, for the user here,
not for self-gratification.

Microsoft says "From the File menu, choose New" which is what I used
until I went to "Open the File menu and choose New" which makes
more sense to me and the users I talk to. (to which I talk?) Anyway,
if that makes me a wacky artiste then so be it.

Finally, while tech writing is not the same thing as writing an essay
or a short story, it does demand creativity as well as skill. The
best manuals were written by people creative and skilled enough to
deal with a complex and often dry subject in a way that made it
easier for me to handle. The key to effective writing is to consider
the reader, whether you write manuals, essays, or short stories.

-- David
---David M Girardot---dmgirard -at- cornetltd -dot- com------------
--Senior Tech Writer & Information Specialist-------
--CorNet International, Ltd.----------------------------

Opinions expressed in this message are my own.

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