"Read me first" and style guides, take II

Subject: "Read me first" and style guides, take II
From: Geoff Hart <Geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 10:13:31 -0400

Since I've received a few requests offline based on my
recommendation of "Read me first!", here's the full cite for Sun's
style guide:

Sun Technical Publications. 1996. Read me first! A style guide for
the computer industry. Sunsoft Press, Upper Saddle River, N.J.
(Prentice-Hall). 256 p. plus CD-ROM. ISBN 0-13455-347-0.

For a full review, see the 4th Quarter 1997 issue of _Technical
Communication_, p.427-430.

And just to clarify a point: While I dissed Microsoft's style guide
roundly for overt sins such as bowdlerizing the English language
(e.g., not using the word "navigate", apparently because that would
be taken as a Netscape plug), I don't dismiss the book entirely,
particularly if you're documenting Microsoft-based products.
Wearing my editor's hat, I fully believe that you can never have
enough style guides on your reference shelf; there's bound to be an
obscure word or phrase covered in one that you can't find anywhere
else. The key to using style guides effectively is to understand
enough about the English language that you can critically evaluate
whether a given style guide's advice is logical, consistent, and
worth following in your specific context.

Andrew's recent Platonic commentary <g> on dismissing Microsoft
out of hand is a good one, and worth remembering. There are
certainly a handful of things that I find unforgivable about Word, but
on the whole, I like working with it and find it a comfortable,
productive tool.

--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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