Re: Reduce page count WAS Re: secretary's day [Getting Long]

Subject: Re: Reduce page count WAS Re: secretary's day [Getting Long]
From: John Posada <john -at- TDANDW -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 28 Apr 1998 09:30:07 -0400

Hi, David

David Somers wrote:
> John Posada wrote:
> >
> > Interestingly, this was also a site where a Project Leader reviewed one
> > of my drafts and came back with the comment that it was all very good,
> > but could I reduce the page count by 50%. Good grief!
> >
> > Well, could you?

On the other hand, "could I reduce the page count by 50%"...I've been
asked this type (not necessarily this specific number) of question in
the past, and sometimes, I've said "NO, but I can reduce it by 25%. Is
that OK?"

When you were asked to reduce the page count, did you aks "Why?"

> Sure... a few snips here and there.
> Also I used a dirty trick... the first draft was printed single sided...
> the next draft that I presented was duplexed.

Whatever it takes.

> > Ya know...when I read this, I didn't see anything wrong with the request to
> > reduce page count.
> It depends on the motives behind the request... and his review consisted
> only of looking at the number of pages produced... he didn't actually
> read it!

Maybe the limiting factor had to do with issues outside of the content.
Maybe it could be as simple as getting a better deal on 3/4" GBC spiral
binding spines instead of 1-1/4" spines. Going back to my previous
example...shipping cost doesn't care about content. It cares about size
and I don't have to read it to know that it's simply too big. He might
simply have [misguidedly] felt that a 200 page book made the product
appear complex, but a 100 page book makes the product appear more

I like to deal with reality, not an idealized verson of reality where
everything is known, everyone has the same goal, everyone gives 101% and
after the project is done, everyone is given a big hand and free pizza.
However, project leaders are the leaders becuase they make decisions and
sometimes, they simply make decisions. This isn't always a democracy.

> For example, you say that maybe the size of the manual had to be under a
> certain size for shipping and production reasons. If that was the case,
> then I would expect a manager to state that limiting factor from day
> one, and not when the first draft appears.

In a perfect world....

However, I've been in situations where the project manager didn't have a
handle on how big the document would end up (after all that's not his
end of the business...did you volunteer an estimate as soon as you
started?..maybe you didn't think to tell (I wouldn't have) and he didn't
think to ask), had a preconceived notion of it's size, saw it as well
under his maximum requirements, and didn't think it would even be an
issue to even ask. Hell, I've been in situations where the writer didn't
know how big the document would end up.

Look, I'd like to say that for every project, every factor is known from
the beginning, it's impact on every other factor, and that someone had
total control of all the factors, but one of the reasons that
"big-bucks" tech writers get the big bucks is because they can react to
the situation as it unfolds, and if it means reduce page count, do it
without grumbling.

You may be correct in that it was an abitrary decision with no basis in
reality, and if that was the case, a foolish request. However, my only
point is that sometimes there is a logical result to an illogical
request and we don't always know the [real] reason. Just that if we can
do it, we should make an attempt.

John Posada, Technical Writer (and proud of the title)
The world's premier Internet fax service company: The FaxSav Global
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My opinions are mine, and neither you nor my company can take credit for

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