Desperately seeking templates?

Subject: Desperately seeking templates?
From: Geoff Hart <Geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 11:43:30 -0400

Mike Hochstatter is <<... new to technical writing and I'm
with an organization that has never had a technical writer.
Consequently, I'm making this up as I go along. ... I'm just
looking for a suggested document structure, that is,
Introduction, Installation Steps, Conclusion, etc.>>

The only really good answer to this question comes from
your audience, not from us. So if you can possibly do so,
locate some users of your product and discuss with them what
kind of structure meets their needs. Given that many of us
occasionally or frequently don't get that opportunity (e.g., I
just completed "beta" documentation on a product that I've
never seen for users I'll never meet*--good thing I like writing
science fiction <g>), a decent compromise would be to have
a look around the office and find manuals for various
software and hardware products (ranging from MSWord to
the toaster oven in the cafeteria). Pick one or two that are
similar to the manuals you'll need to create for your own
product, and analyze them: run through a real or "in your
head" installation to determine what works well, and what
doesn't. Use that experience to create your own template.

* About the only good thing about this project was that I
completed it quick and clean (thereby earning serious
brownie points!), and had a few of our researchers (who are
fairly similar to the end users) review it for technical accuracy
and completeness. But boyoboy--talk about documenting
vaporware!

--Geoff Hart @8^{)} Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

"If pro is opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress?"--Anon. (possibly Richard Lederer
)


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