Document layout: Whose decision?

Subject: Document layout: Whose decision?
From: Sunshine QT <sunshineqt99999 -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 12:49:12 -0800 (PST)

I am curious:

To what extent is it your decision as the tech
writer/tech writing department how to lay out manuals,
and to what extent is it the programmers' decision?

Our department set up a style guide and set of manuals
with side heads (for shorter line length and more
whitespace, for ease of reading.) All docs have been
done that way since we set it up last July. The style
guide is set, my templates are set. A programmer who
usually does not need documentation recently needed a
doc done and complained that he wants it without the
side-head - in other words, he wants the lines to go
all the way across. (He didn't say why.)

I have never been in a job in which programmers told
tech writing departments how to do manuals. I also
know that shorter line length means ease of reading
and whitespace helps the reader. Naturally none of
this is is totally etched in stone - you can do good
manuals in other ways - but frankly, I dont' want to.
I dont' think it is his call, and it will look funny
to have one manual different from all the others. I
also don't relish the idea of comping up with anothe
rtemplate . It would not be terribly hard, but
especially for this document (it has tons of special
formatting and weird tables and other odd things) it
would be a real pain.

What is your experience with such programmers? Any
ideas on how to handle this?

My feeling is that, I don't tell them how to program;
they don't tell me how to lay out documents. But I am
willing to listen to *your* feedback. (Since you are
fellow tech writers.)



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