Re: "Ability" or "allows"

Subject: Re: "Ability" or "allows"
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- SIMPLYWRITTEN -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 09:38:31 -0500

Mark writes:
> But there's a bit of a trap in the "use this to" and "click this
> to": the distinction between the compulsory and the optional may
> be lost.
> Suppose, for example, the reader is following a set of instructions
> and step 5 says "Select A to do the A thing. Select B to do the
> B thing." The reader may not know whether there's the option of
> doing neither, whether there's the option of doing both, or what.
> Of course, context is all. I may be a little oversensitive because
> one of our manuals once came back from a contractor with every
> instance of "You can" and "If you want" deleted...

This is a valid point. We get around it by structuring most of our manuals
in our own Clustar Method, which constructs a manual by tasks. The user
knows implicitly and explicitly that there are options (sometimes those
appear in if-then tables) and there are requirements. But rather than burden
the reader with picking through "couldas" and "cans", we just build the
task. End of problem.

Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Featuring FrameMaker and the Clustar Method(TM)
"Better communication is a service to mankind."

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