Off Topic: Question About Technical Communication -Reply

Subject: Off Topic: Question About Technical Communication -Reply
From: Bill Sullivan <bsullivan -at- SMTPLINK -dot- DELTECPOWER -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 16:59:05 -0700

>I'm thinking of buying two books by William Horton: 'Illustrating
Computer Documentation', and 'Designing and Writing Online
Documentation'. I'd like to know whether you'd recommend these or
some other books.

Like you, Stuart, my natural impulse is to go for the thousand words
rather than the picture, and I have to work just as hard at the
concept for the picture as I do for the words, if not more so. For
input on doing better diagrams and illustrations, I have gotten a lot
out of Karen Schriver's "Dynamics in Document Design," and I am sure
you will get a lot of votes in favor of the Tufte trio: "The Visual
Display of Quantitative Information," "Envisioning Information," and
"Visual Explanations." I have never read "Illustrating Computer
Documentation" by Horton. I have a copy of his "Designing and Writing
Online Documentation" and find it valuable, well-chunked, and
well-documented with an extensive bibliography. To answer your
question, D&WOD would be at least a good choice, but not the only
good choice. Allow me to offer a few additional thoughts.

When it comes to graphics, there are those who are content to splash
illustrations and colors on pages, and those who want to think about
it first. If you care to think about it first, you might also join
the STC Information Design Sig to see what develops on their email
list that might be of help to you.

And forgive me a generality, but I think the folks in Europe may have
a big step on us Americans when it comes to information design. A
lively forum to follow is InfoDesign-Cafe out of Holland. Post a
subscribe infodesign-cafe message to majordomo -at- wins -dot- uva -dot- nl if you
want to join. You will read messages from some top people.

List owner Yuri Englehart has recently started an InfoDesign web
that you may find useful. On the other hand, it may well strike you
as far too much scholarship.

Also, I have long been a fan of Conrad Taylor over in England. His
site is and may have some material and
links to other sites that you may find useful.

As for the online help, if you don't do Windows, in what form are you

Bill Sullivan
bsullivan -at- deltecpower -dot- com
San Diego, California

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