Re: Writing for on-line

Subject: Re: Writing for on-line
From: Karen Kay <karen -at- WORDWRITE -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998 19:57:34 -0800

Scott Miller said:
> >>>>
> Mucho snippage...
> ...the conclusion that we should write differently for paper and
> for online is absurd.
> <<<<
> In the sense of writing concisely for any media, that's true, but I've
> done the single-source thing, and it doesn't work.

Then, to be blunt, you didn't do it right. My company single-sources
all of our stuff, and I think it works beautifully. (I was not the
architect of the information design system, but I am a big fan.)

> Just one example: there is no print equivalent of an online popup.

So you're not talking about single-sourcing documentation, you're
talking about single-sourcing help and manuals. I think this is a real
flaw in this whole discussion, that many people are *talking* about
the possibility/impossibility of single-sourcing, but they never say
what they are single-sourcing. Single-sourcing manuals and help is
possible, but it's more difficult unless you use something like SGML
and tag everything appropriately and have good filters for the output.

As for a print equivalent of a popup, I think callouts can be used for
that purpose, sometimes quite effectively.

> Also, users
> never get "lost in hyperspace" in a book.

In a *printed* book.

> Print and online are very
> different media, and require very different writing approaches. Of
> course, good writing is required by both media.

I would say that help and manuals are different types of documentation
and have different kinds of content, which may overlap. JMNSHO.

karen -at- wordwrite -dot- com

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