Re: Three (basic?) style questions [Summary and thanks]

Subject: Re: Three (basic?) style questions [Summary and thanks]
From: Yosuke Ichikawa <ichikawayosuke -at- obun -dot- co -dot- jp>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 16:38:24 +0900

Thank you, Charles W. Jay, Sandy Harris, Marilynne Smith, Mark L. Levinson, Bob Buchko, Jane Bergen, David Chinell and Tom Murrell for your valuable responses. I'm grateful that I got so much positive, encouraging input for my question.

Here is a brief overview, along with what I suggested to my client.

1) Capitalization in cross references.
All of you who had any comment on capitalization of the headers suggested *against* using all-caps in headers in the first place.
On the premise that the headers are in all-caps, many of you suggested using all-caps in references for consistency sake, while some of you said that initial-caps or sentence casing would be okay.

As for the headers, I can't realistically change the case at this time. But I'll keep in mind that all of you suggested against it next time I get to discuss manual format with my client.
As for the reference, with my current deadline, I don't want to go through all the changes unless it's absolutely wrong. I interpreted your replies (rather conveniently?) in the whole that while one should basically use the same casing, my original decision wouldn't be absolutely wrong.

I looked at what English manuals I can find after I put up my post and found that the Adobe PageMaker User Guide Version 6.5 does the same thing (i.e., all-capped headers but initial-caps in references).

I faxed a few pages out of the manual to my client, explained my views and
the situation, and asked her if she could give it another thought. Of course, if she still wants upper case in the references, I'll have to do it.

Interestingly, when I looked in the Adobe InDesign User Guide (version 1) to see if it does the same, I found that Adobe hadn't used full-caps in any of its headers in the first place, exactly as many of you suggested. They used sentence casing. Maybe this is due to the fact that the PM manual was made in 1996 (and, possibly retained the style from an earlier version manual), while the ID manual came out fresh last year.

Some of you suggested using automated cross-references. This is something I'll have to look into. Our manual is not very long (30 pages to 60 pages per language at most) and we don't use a whole lot of references, so we weren't really pressed for the need. (We use PageMaker for our manuals --customer's choice--, but we may have to start considering other options since we hear the product may not be updated in the future. But this is a whole different story.)

2) Reference to subheads within the same page
Many of you who had any comments on the usage of "below/above" said that it was okay. Some said that "left/right" were equally okay, while others seem to suggest they were not. Other suggestions were "previous/following" and "ealier/later".

Some of you suggested to avoid using words like "below/above" altogether and stick with "page xx", so that one wouldn't have to worry about adjustments when the page changes.

I personally feel a little (not much, but a little) awkward to refer to a section in the same page like; see "AAAA", page xx. Since the references typed manually in our case, we can choose to use different words in such cases. I first thought of using phrases like; see "AAAA" on this page, and ultimately chose what seemed to me the simplest words. I understand this would certainly be different if we decide to use automated referencing in the future (The forementioned PageMaker manual does this on page 91).

I told my client that the using "below/above" would not be wrong, so we can keep it, or change it if she still thinks necessary.

3) Bulleted list
While no one said that the sentence-style bulleted list is absolutely wrong, all of you who had any specific comments suggested against it. It is preferred to keep a parallel structure for the items, and the lead-in
sentence should be changed if necessary to keep this structure.

I told my client just this. I explained my original intent in using "or", and showed her the necessary rewrite of the lead-in sentence should I take away the "or".

Some of you gave me a very detailed response. Sorry for the simplification in this summary (I didn't quote anyone), but I've read all your messages carefully.
Again, thank you very very much.

Still waiting for my client's response,
Yosuke Ichikawa
Obun Printing

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