Two cents more for Re: Graphics in Text; was Looking for Opinions/Criticism

Subject: Two cents more for Re: Graphics in Text; was Looking for Opinions/Criticism
From: Michele Edson <M-E -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 1997 00:31:42 -0500

On 08/26/97 08:37:09 you wrote:
>
Comments on Larry and Tom's comments....

It is my opinion that documentation should be visually intuititive and to the point. With documentation, my goal is to let the reader find the information he or she needs as quickly as possible.... and to include as much information as warrented - from the readers point of view. I have added bmp buttons, such as the search button, and think it helped the procedures. On the other hand, I have seen procedures with buttons that are horrible...of course, the rest of their documentation is usually similarily bad.

*Larry said:

*>> To access this dialog box, do one of the following:
*>> · click {bmp of button} on the toolbar
*>> · from the Search menu click Find String
>> · from the shortcut menu click Find String>Larry Weber wrote:

First, I would add the name of the dialog box to the first statement and include a picture of it. Second, I would keep phrasing in the bullets parallel...for example, the first bullet could read... Go to the toolbar and click search or include the search.bmp. Then, if needed, I would include a textual discussion of the choices if warranted.

*Tom said... 10 to 15 graphics on a page is unreadable...
I totally agree - but if someone would put that many graphics on a page, there textual documentation probably has just as many problems. In my opinion. We tech writers should think of a page the same way an artist thinks of a picture. It should be something pleasant to look at - and we should understand where should eye movement start... and where should it end...

The end of my comments...............Michele Edson
>
>> I've recently started working on a small product in a large software
>> corporation and I'm a bit concerned about the usefulness of the Winhelp
>> files we provide. It seems to me that the previous writers were more
>> concerned about "current trends" such as numbered procedures than the
>> actual usefulness of the information.
>
>Larry's original example snipped:
>
>and now a portion of Larry's revised procedure
>>
>> To access this dialog box, do one of the following:
>> · click {bmp of button} on the toolbar
>> · from the Search menu click Find String
>> · from the shortcut menu click Find String
>
>
>Larry,
>
>I'm going to dodge the main issue you asked about and point out
>something that bothers me. I call it "The Little Red Hen Method." I
>disagree with embedding graphics in text (for example _bmp of button_).
>"The Little Red Hen" is a children's story where pictures are placed in
>the story. Children can, in effect, follow the story by saying the name
>of each picture every time an adult reader pauses. It's a great story
>and fun to read. Every child should have the opportunity to help read
>it.
>
>But, every time I come across a picture in the body of an instruction, I
>think of the little red hen and her friends (cat, rat, mouse, cottage by
>the woods, cow, scissors, eggs and, of course, the nasty fox that tries
>to cook her for dinner). Somehow it seems out of place for a software
>help file.
>
>To me, it seems more appropriate to include the name of the button, or
>the corresponding menu item rather than to force the reader to switch
>gears from text to graphic back to text again. I'll stop short of saying
>it looks childish and just say unprofessional. For evidence, think back
>to the first time you saw a ;) in an e-mail. You probably thought it was
>some kind of typo or wierd punctuation. Until someone told you what it
>was a "wink", your mind was thinking text, not graphic. Now that you
>know, you are able to switch gears, almost without thinking about it.
>The point I'm making is that it takes some effort to switch gears and
>can cause some readers to stumble.
>
>If you find it necessary to include a picture of a button in the text, I
>would preface it something like this.
>
>"Click the Search button on the tool bar, it looks like this {bmp of
>button}."
>
>Putting it at the end of a sentence, or in the sidebar, makes it easy
>for someone to skim, just looking for an icon for each step. By the way,
>if you do it for one step, you should be consistant and do it for every
>step. Having icons in a side bar, for each step, where possible, can be
>a great aid. In my printed manuals, I do it all the time and our
>customers love it. Many of them are very talented technicians who do not
>read well. A lot of them have never used a computer before so icons and
>graphics can be particularly helpful.
>
>The reason I'm sensitive about this issue is because I worked on a
>project where there were sometimes 10 to 15 graphics used that way on a
>single page. It was a real effort to read through the material. Seeing
>the cumulative effect made me realize that even one could cause a
>problem for some people.
>
>Others may have compelling reasons for putting the graphic in the text
>and I would like to hear what they have to say.
>
>Tom Johnson
>tjohnson -at- grandtraverse -dot- com
>
> TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a message
>to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send commands
> to LISTSERV -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU (e.g. HELP or SIGNOFF TECHWR-L).
> Search the archives at http://www.documentation.com/ or search and
>browse the archives at http://listserv.okstate.edu/archives/techwr-l.html
>
>

TECHWR-L (Technical Communication) List Information: To send a message
to 2500+ readers, e-mail to TECHWR-L -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU -dot- Send commands
to LISTSERV -at- LISTSERV -dot- OKSTATE -dot- EDU (e.g. HELP or SIGNOFF TECHWR-L).
Search the archives at http://www.documentation.com/ or search and
browse the archives at http://listserv.okstate.edu/archives/techwr-l.html


Previous by Author: problems with text in gif image on web page, suggestions???
Next by Author: STC proposal
Previous by Thread: update to post for Tech Writer at Silicon Valley Internet Startup
Next by Thread: A4 Publishing supplies


What this post helpful? Share it with friends and colleagues:

Sponsored Ads


Sponsored Ads