Conventions, Intros, Overviews, Help, etc.

Subject: Conventions, Intros, Overviews, Help, etc.
From: Jeff Elkins <jelkins -at- CARDHEALTH -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 29 May 1998 15:06:00 -0700

Sorry for my delay, I'm a digest-er...

Elizabeth Kane <bkane -at- ARTISOFT -dot- COM> wrote...

> I agree that people don't read "conventions" sections. If you
> want to make sure people know about the conventions you're using, >
you've gotta put a note about them right where you're using them.

I agree whole-heartedly. One technique that our department just started
using is placing italicized "tips", or "hints" in the white space. These
"sidebar" comments contain the hint and a "where to find more information"
note. This draws the interested user to a place where they will find more
detailed "help."

And John Wilcox <wilcoxj -at- WDNI -dot- COM> wrote:

> It's been my experience that most users would rather see too
> much info in a manual than not enough.

But here I disagree. Too much can be detrimental. Case in point: Our
company does contract work for several clients whos needs differ, as does
the scope of our services to each. One of our clients utilizes our
program/system, but maintains all of the operations except the Accounting
function themselves -- hence, their documentation needs are rather
extensive. The education/skill level of these folks runs the gamut (maybe
I assume too much), but for the past two years they have all decided that
it is much easier to call Tech Support than crack one of the manuals --
there are seven, plus a few guides, and I believe that they are just

Now I'm open to the option that they might feel our documentation sucks ;-(
but I truly don't believe that. People are generally (here I go again)
lazy, though, and following instructions can sometimes be hard work...

Jeff Elkins, Documentation Specialist/Trainer
jelkins -at- cardhealth -dot- com

P.S. Working on the "job title" issue -- I've checked the archives,
does anybody have a comprehensive list of TW titles? I missed the
STC conference...

"What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and
goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do."
-- Bob Dylan

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