Re: Tense issue

Subject: Re: Tense issue
From: Jane Bergen <janeber -at- CYBERRAMP -dot- NET>
Date: Sat, 26 Sep 1998 16:07:08 -0500

Hi, Thom,

I'm curious about your statement below:

> -----Original Message-----
> Several people suggested "Click the Postings button to view
> the Posting
> dialog box." I want to argue that this is wrong, unless the
> intent of the
> user is to view the Postings dialog box. In this case, the
> user doesn't
> want to see the Postings dialog box, they want to create a posting.
> Therefore:
> To create a posting:
> 1. Click the Postings button. The Postings dialog box appears.
> 2. Click on the New Posting button, etc.

In this scenario, why does the Postings dialog box open at all? Is the
user supposed to disregard it? Where is the New Posting button? I had
assumed it would be in the Postings dialog box. If this assumption is
correct, then the user must have the dialog box open in order to use
the button. Right?

I don't know why exactly, but I never present a numbered list that
covers more than one dialog box. I think it's probably because it's
very confusing and I just prefer to limit the number of steps per
procedures. Instead, I write:

In the main window,

> Click the Postings button to open the Postings dialog.

[Insert graphic of the Postings dialog]

Depending upon the complexity of the dialog (number of options in the
dialog box, etc.), I might explain it here in about two sentences.

To add a posting,

> Click the New postings button.

etc. Those little ">" in my email are actually triangular bullets used
for single-step instructions.

That seems pretty tedious, unless you are the hapless user wading
through the dialogs and wondering what each one means or what happens
at each click of the button. Then you are likely to be pretty grateful
for the detail. Of course, if you require the users to wade through
too many dialog boxes, then you have a new problem...that of
documenting a really poor design anyway.

Jane Bergen, Technical Writer
Dallas, Texas
janeber -at- cyberramp -dot- net

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