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Unfortunately, on this list everyone is very quick to point out the
bad stuff! I have a tendency to do that myself.....but for printed
manuals, I think the FrameMaker 5.0 manual was good, as was one of the
earlier PageMaker manuals (4.0 or 5.0). I also liked the AutoDesk
manual I saw a couple of years ago...it was excellent! It gave a quick
view (for those of us who think we know it all..or who are already
somewhat familiar with the program), then more detailed instructions
with the "why" for each step.
One thing I always encouraged my tech writing students to do was to
keep a "clip book" -- a 3-ring binder in which you store various
photocopies of selected pages from manuals that you really like.
Usually less than 5 pages per manual is adequate to really get the
look and feel. Sometimes when you want to be creative, it can help. I
just walked around my company and asked everyone if I look through
their user guides. They had a lot of programs that I wouldn't
necessarily have, so it was very instructive.
> The recent thread about best-of-breed help systems got me wondering
> might get a look at examples of best-of-breed hard-copy manuals. As
> writer in a rookie publications department, I hunger for examples of
> has worked, as well as examples of different formats and methods of
> organizing content. While I find value in reading books offering
> tips, and tricks on how to make manuals users will enjoy consulting,
> gladly chuck a fair number of those books for one or two actual
> do the trick.
> If I can't actually buy the product that comes with the manual, I'll
> the manual from someone anywhere (well, within a reasonable
> are some of the best-of-breed manuals out there?
> --Robert Heath