Re: writing See Also's in on-line help.

Subject: Re: writing See Also's in on-line help.
From: "Susan W. Gallagher" <sgallagher -at- EXPERSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997 12:48:01 -0700

At 12:49 PM 10/1/97 -0400, Ron D Rhodes wrote:
> Is there a "standard" or a reasoning for what kinds of links an
> on-line author should include in See Also's?

Well, there certainly isn't any standard. And reasoning varies,
depending on who's doing it. <G> Here's my reasoning:

When you develop a help file, you should be answering users
questions --
What is it?
How do I do it?
Why do I do it?
What does it mean?
Where can I find more info?

You may not answer all these questions for each subject that
your help file covers, but these are the sorts of questions that
typical help files answer.

If you chunk your information effectively (I almost said correctly,
then I figured it'd sound too dogmatic), you'll answer a single
question per help topic. It logically follows (in my brain, anyway),
that the answers for all these questions on a single subject should
be linked together so that if users enter the help system at the
procedure (the how) and want to know the concepts behind the action
(the why) a link to that info is at their assorted fingertips.

In most cases, doing this will fill out your "see also" list (in
Win95 help, these are more often called "related topics", BTW).
For some topics, however, there are other, closely related topics
that users may confuse with each other. For example, if your system
has utilities for deleting files, deleting records, and deleting
projects, you'll probably want to devise a scheme by which all
topics that have to do with deleting stuff are linked -- the
theory being that users may know they want to delete stuff, they're
just not sure which stuff or which procedure to use.


-Sue Gallagher
sgallagher -at- expersoft -dot- com

The _Guide_ is definitive.
Reality is frequently inaccurate. --Douglas Adams

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