Re: Conventions pages (WAS: Pros and Cons....)

Subject: Re: Conventions pages (WAS: Pros and Cons....)
From: Lisa Higgins <lisarea -at- LUCENT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 28 May 1998 16:22:34 +0000

The type of conventions pages I was talking about are the ones that I
keep running across: output is in courier, input in bold courier,
blah blah.

I've had the opportunity to watch users using documentation, and I
have never seen anyone look at this stuff. Besides, if users started
wanting or needing this type of stuff, it would indicate to me that
the document needed redesigning.

> Also consider that what you think is obvious may not be obvious to a
> reader in another country, a neophyte user, or a reader whose first
> language is not English....

I've worked with these guys. I had a perfect test group for a
new-to-computers manual I wrote some time ago. They do read the docs
much more carefully than experienced users do, but they STILL don't
read the conventions section, in my experience.

The reason for formatting input text, for example, in bold courier,
is not to tell the users that this is input, but to draw the text out
for people who are in a big hurry. The text itself should be very
clear about why the text is there. Type <break> into the _computer_
field, not <break> _computer_.

If you're showing a screen shot, tell the user what the screen shot
is in the main text.

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