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Subject:PDF vs. Paper From:Heather Ross <Heather -dot- Louise -dot- Ross -at- THEMUTUALGROUP -dot- COM> Date:Wed, 23 Dec 1998 11:52:15 -0500
David Dubin wrote
Younger generations are more accustomed to the monitor and to seeing
information scroll along, so "reading" information and learning from PDFs
on screen is much easier.
I'm 23, so I think I qualify as part of the "younger generations". I grew
up with computers and am very comfortable with them--to my Dad, a computer
is one of the basic necessities of life so we had home computers from the
time they were first available . Even so, I prefer paper documentation most
of the time. Why? Probably the same reasons you do.
- Reading from computer screens is hard on eyes, young or old.
- If I'm trying to work through a procedure, I can keep the book opened
beside me instead of having to flip screens back to the instructions for
each step, or having part of my screen taken up by the help window
- I can highlight and make notes in books, and add bookmarks or sticky
- I can take a hard copy manual home with me to read in the evening/on the
weekend (I have a stack ready to come home with me tomorrow for the
- I skim through manuals in my spare time. I don't think I'd ever open up
on-line help and just start reading it when I have a few minutes. However
with a book, I'm happily flipping through pages finding out about things I
didn't know the program could do (therefore things I never would have
thought to search for in the on-line help).
I'm not sure this is such a generational thing. To me, books are friendly
things. I can touch them and smell them. I've spent many, many contended
hours with a book in my hands. If someone is having difficulties with a
computer program, might they be less intimidated opening up a book than
opening up another part of a program?
Of course, I think on-line help is important to have. It's usually my first
resource when I have a problem. I like to have the quick and dirty solution
on line, and the option to go to a hard-copy manual if I need more
information. But it all goes back to knowing your audience -- something
they won't use won't help them. I think both have their place now and will
continue to have their place.
As for reading a PDF file on screen though, I wouldn't do it. I'd print it