Re: Word Choice

Subject: Re: Word Choice
From: Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- PROTEON -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 14 Feb 1994 09:12:00 EST

Mike Christie asks:
"I was re-writing a programmer's document to include in the user manual.
He used the word "expensive" to indicate that that a procedure used a lot
of system resources.

The question, of course, is, are there times when more words are better
than fewer? Should one >>always<< avoid colloqualisms, even when the target
audience will certainly understand what is meant? Should one always err
on the side of accuracy even when it means using more words?"

If the audience wil DEFINITELY understand it, I feel that it's
important to use a little slang and jargon. Sometimes this can help
an audience take you more seriously.

For example, when I was working on my library automation manuals, I
found myself explaining a lot of terms because I didn't understand
them so I though my audience wouldn't either. Turns out that, for
the expert-user version of the program, using the extra words to
avoid the colloquialism (something I was taught to do) actually hurt
the manual's reception. Because I didn't use jargon in an
appropriate way (i.e., the profession's jargon), user feedback showed
that the audience took the manual less seriously. Fortunately this
showed up during beta, so I was able to fix it for the final.

Once again, 'it depends on the user' (everybody join in!)

P.S. Many resources. (couldn't resist! <grin>)

Bonni Graham |
Technical Writer | Most software is run by
Easel Corporation, ENFIN Technology Lab | confused users acting on
Bonni_Graham_at_Enfin-SD -at- relay -dot- proteon -dot- com | incorrect and incomplete
President, San Diego STC | information, doing things
| the designer never expected.
NOTE: apparently my email address needs |
to be typed exactly as it appears here, | --Paul Heckel, quoted
punctuation and all, or the system gets | by William Horton
upset. |

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