Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 30 Nov 1998 to 1 Dec 1998

Subject: Re: TECHWR-L Digest - 30 Nov 1998 to 1 Dec 1998
From: "Cheyne, Andy" <acheyne -at- X-CEL -dot- CO -dot- UK>
Date: Wed, 2 Dec 1998 10:04:01 -0000

Don Timmerman wrote:

>I just had a moment of inspiration and ask if one is writing
>procedures that include the use of the subject symbol, why even
>to give it a name? Why not use something like the following.
>When finished, press the # key.
>Why should the statement be written as,
>When finished, press the pound (#) key.
>Of course, this method works for only written communication. Verbal
>communication is another issue.

Well, I think you've answered your own question in that last
paragraph, Don. In my experience, you can seldom consider product
manuals in isolation. Just imagine a user, who has learnt all about
the product from the manual, having to make a call to technical

"Hello, I've a problem. My system hangs when I press the... er... what
d'you call it? know... that key with the funny symbol..."

Similar difficulties must exist in training and other activities.
Verbal communication isn't "another issue".

Symbols DO need names, and stating these names in the manuals helps to
create a culture surrounding your product which makes communication
easier. If you can use a name which is familiar and unambiguous to
your readership, fine; if not, you have to be a little proscriptive.
If for reasons of clarity you end up considering "octothorpe" to be
the best of the alternatives, then that's what you have to use. With a
suitable amount of explanation, of course.


Andy Cheyne email: acheyne -at- x-cel -dot- co -dot- uk
Senior Technical Author telephone: +44 (0)1276 674088
X-CEL Communications Ltd fax: +44 (0)1276 674010

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