RE: Document layout: Whose decision?

Subject: RE: Document layout: Whose decision?
From: "walden miller" <wmiller -at- vidiom -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2001 15:44:05 -0700

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?

>>> currently, our writers decide the style of manuals, but work with
programmers to understand how they need information.

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.)

>>> The programmer's of our largest client (over 14000 pages and climbing)
used to decide their format. This was because they had very little
experience with good designers/writers. They had a multitude of experience
with bad designers/writers. It took us 2-3 years to convert the programmers
to buy into a style manual that we would control. Now everything is very
nice, but we did make some small concessions to the client. The concessions
were worth it in good will.

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.)

>>> this sounds like a war in the making if you ever voice your opinion. I
occasionally do tell the programmer's about bugs I find and GUI issues that
I find "awful," just as they find typos, misspelled words, and critique my
document design. I can take it and I find they can too.

If a programmer is really interested in doc design (enough to insist on a
design), he may have some insight... or not. But if he is really interested
you may be able to school him in the right direction.

my .02


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